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Meta and Esade analyze the “metaversity” or tomorrow’s university

According to the report Business education in the era of metaverse, in order to remain relevant, universities must change by using technology to deliver an augmented learning experience for both professors and students.

Meta and Esade have published a report about the impact and benefits that generative AI and the metaverse can have for education. Entitled “Hacia la transformación de la universidad” (Transforming universities), this report analyses the present-day landscape and the changes needed in the world of education in order to successfully incorporate these new technologies into the learning process.

Universities still play an important part in society but, due to the developments of recent years, they must change in order to remain relevant. Immersive technologies – virtual reality, augmented reality and blended reality, together with GenAI – could be crucial for this overhaul of the education system in order for tomorrow’s universities to improve digital skills and thus improve young people’s job prospects. 

According to Ivan Bofarull, Chief Innovation Officer at Esade, “This report travels the road from the present to the future and considers the long-term impact of certain new technologies such as AI and the metaverse – but always in the sense of platforms or levers for consolidating the relevance of universities and broadening their purpose and mission in society”.

José Luis Zimmermann, Director of Public Affairs at Meta Spain & Portugal, believes that “Immersive technologies and artificial intelligence will have a real impact on society, and it’s important for us to be able to make the very most of them. Within the teaching world, universities will have a crucial role in fostering essential skills such as critical thinking amongst young people. Meta is delighted to support surveys like this one. It’s important to showcase the role that universities will have in the future and analyze how they must change in order to meet the demands of today’s world”. 

Augmented learning experience

One of the findings of this survey is that universities must shift their focus from what they deliver (departments and programs) to the needs and challenges they must respond to. Since even the most specialized information is available to everyone in today’s digital era, universities must not be merely centers of knowledge: they must be hubs for cultivating socio-emotional skills and facilitating critical thinking and reflection.

In this new landscape, the role of professors must change too. What used to matter was the transfer of knowledge, but now, with the help of AI and immersive technologies, professors need to improve their teaching skills in order to help students learn and take decisions. Students will then cast off their passive role and become pro-active participants focused on learning through experience.

As regards the possible applications of generative AI and the metaverse, they can help with tasks such as knowledge and content production. Generative AI, for example, will create knowledge and content of greater value, whilst the metaverse will be the space where simulations are created. The metaverse can also help personalize the experience and pace of learning because inside this space each student interacts with data based on their own individual profile.

According to this study, the traditional educational model cannot continue teaching for a future that no longer exists, and there is a demand from society for universities to be a catalyst for organizational and social change. Amongst other things, this means contributing to public debate, being involved in the creation of start-ups, and participating in organizational change.

Also, according to this study, tomorrow’s universities would thereby broaden their traditional mission and become a “metaversity”, educational establishments which, thanks to permanent tech support, can deliver an “augmented” learning experience for both teachers and students.

This collaboration is part of a larger, independent research program being funded by Meta across Europe. Academics and think tanks in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and Germany are analyzing how immersive technologies can contribute to the future of education, improve existing learning experiences, increase the job prospects of young people and contribute to professional and executive training. 

Link to the manifesto and the full report ‘Business education in the era of the metaverse’