Metaverse in Higher Education and the Metaversities: Disruptive Technologies and Innovations in Industry 5.0 for Phygital Transformation

Metaverse in Higher Education and the Metaversities: Disruptive Technologies and Innovations in Industry 5.0 for Phygital Transformation

DOI: 10.4018/979-8-3693-2314-4.ch011
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This chapter was written based on an exploratory study, reports, and articles current at the time of writing; however, over time, it tends to have historical characteristics in relation to metaversity. The objective was to highlight the growth mindset and disruptive technologies and innovations for the metaverse in higher education. In the exploratory research, it was revealed, in the metaverse ecosystem, the existence of metaversities, the possibilities of the metaverse for higher education institutions and the presence of phygital transformation in educational contents and activities. It was concluded that new research and new paradigms are needed for disruptive technologies in the metaverse ecosystem and metaversity has the potential to bring together realities, simulations, campus replicas, time and space travel, and meaningful and immersive experiences with augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, and extended reality.
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The facts relevant to the writing of this chapter are the advance of immersive worlds in the metaverse and the possibilities for business in ecosystems with technologies based on augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality. It is known that there are paradigm shifts and disruptive technologies for e-housing and consumption in the metaverse and in the advancement of industry 5.0 are augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality for business applications.

It is clarified that the word metaverse will be used with lowercase letters, even though it is known that the term metaverse was a kind of collective digital space with compatibility and convergence with reality in the work of Stephenson (2000) published in the 20th century. This chapter intends to highlight the principles of the metaverse to support the understanding of the metaverse ecosystem, technological resources and applications based on artificial intelligence.

There are many advances in the field of Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, Big Data, blockchain and augmented, virtual and mixed realities and having the metaverse principles highlighted tends to help in understanding the contexts of cloud platforms, quantum computing, cybersecurity, and telecommunications recursions. The era of metaverse and technological trends mobilize industry 5.0 for phygital transformation.

Mobile and fixed devices are present in the metaverse ecosystem that has computational resources oriented to augmented, virtual and mixed realities, however not all higher education institutions include disruptive technologies in prescribed curricula, in the way of accessing knowledge and in successful and innovative experiences, therefore, it is necessary to understand the fundamentals of the metaverse for the paradigm shift that integrates technologies and artificial intelligence to the human growth mindset for operational, tactical and strategic thinking in industry 5.0.

Higher education institutions are responsible for the phygital transformation in society, which is increasingly becoming a (cyber) society with the advancement of mobility in the palm of hand and the advent of web 4.0. After all, it is in [innovative] technical education and higher education that young people perceive the possibilities for society 5.0 with hands on, with prototyping [pivoting] digital solutions and with recent theories about the metaverse ecosystem.

It is the paradigm shifts, the growth mindset, disruptive technologies, disruptive innovations, and human beings that develop new concepts. Although the scientific community may be reluctant to adopt the new foundations, with demonstrations and assumptions there will be convincing new theories to solve contemporary and complex problems.

People, according to Kuhn (1998, p. 212), tend to believe in new paradigms if they [the paradigms] solve problems that still cannot be solved with known concepts and fundamentals and if there is a guarantee of preservation of objective resolution capacity of problems allied to known paradigms. It is understood that human creativity and science can evidence new theories, however they [new theories] are not born with the same potentiality and concreteness of the predecessor paradigms.

It is highlighted that the resolution of complex and contemporary problems is not the only basis for the choice of paradigms and that communities of scientific specialists are able to examine them in a detailed and precise way. It was the professional interests of the scientific communities that promoted the transformation from the physical to the digital and, with investigations and research, made the phygital possible.

It is the increase in the degree of specificities and communications with other groups, both scientific and people working with the researched topic, which shows that science has new paradigms. It is understood that the increase in the degree of specificities and communications are potential, but individual experiments in everyday life and the consumer's experience tend to bring to the market the potential guarantee that the paradigm has been accepted until another can refute it.

The thematic disruptive technologies, applications based on artificial intelligence and the metaverse ecosystem together are strengthening in paradigms, there are studies for understanding and, in the quarterly report of McKinsey (2022), it was verified that many consumers are interested in spending some time in the metaverse, and Gartner's press release (2022) predicts that 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse by 2026.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Growth Mindset: In many contexts, mental configurations need management, organization, strategies and (self) regulation for personal and professional performance. The growth mindset allows people to preserve themselves in adversity and have control of the situations to which they are exposed. Psychologists report that people with a growth mindset remain optimistic, however, it is preferred to use that people with a growth mindset believe in their own potential and are sure that the strategies used tend to give excellent results. They are people who are looking for new challenges because they believe in them and in the capacity for flexibility and (anti) fragility. However, attention is needed with mental health, since they are people who demand a lot from them to get it right.

Phygital Transformation: The expression originated for consultancy, for the strategy, for the analyzes and for the design of the experiences that involve the physical with the digital with the economic and social biases. It is the alteration of the state of a system that has objects, applications and digital solutions with physical mechanisms and is supported by development and by designers for the elaboration of interfaces for immersive recursions. It is important to have the context that has the overlap of the physical with the digital in place and space with synchronous or asynchronous time. There are journeys and processes that use the four-dimensional to show the inseparability of virtuality and reality. It is a manifestation that integrates experiences with physical and digital elements and highlights the feelings, emotions, attitudes and behaviors that affect and are affected during the phygital journey. It is necessary to reflect on the challenges and opportunities of uniting the physical with the digital and verify which characteristics result from the inseparability of the physical and the virtual in the metaverse ecosystem and in the phygital platforms. There are emerging principles and practices [knowledge] in phygital transformation and the impacts must be measured. In phygital business, the business model aggregates physical and digital opportunities and structuring and well-being are physical and virtual. It is noteworthy that there are many challenges for the realization of phygital capabilities and skills, as well as the ecologies of the platforms.

Principles of the Metaverse: Although there are many advances in the metaverse, there are limitations in the early 20s of the 21st century. The basis of the metaverse started with web 3.0. The second iteration of mixed reality is in full development. Platforms enhance immersive and social experiences in virtual reality and there are efforts to operationalize and make immersive spaces compatible with augmented reality. The metaverse ecosystem is booming in the areas of Marketing and e-commerce and, in higher education, higher education institutions are migrating to immersive spaces with the digital twin. It is possible to interact in the metaverse with avatars and digital humans that are three-dimensional representations. Brands are developing spaces in the metaverse to attract consumers and higher education institutions serve students [three-dimensional representations] with professors and with technical and administrative staff as digital humans in phygital experiences. Mixed realities are constant challenges for developers and designers in interconnection and interoperability. Hardware companies are working on the metaverse with four-dimensionality. There are development proposals based on accumulated experiences from the world wide web and in brand development academies. Artificial intelligences are being included in immersive experiences. As the metaverse is for the whole (cyber) society, accessibility initiatives and the inclusion of human diversity are seeking the possibility of enhancing accessible hardware and software for (cyber) citizens.

Metaverse Ecosystem: The ecosystem is a set of infrastructure, development, design, proposals, digitalization, phygitalization , rendering, interaction, culture, brands, business models, interests, values, three-dimensional semiotic objects, technologies and disruptive innovations and a lot of effort for the results, not necessarily in that gradation. It is understood that, in the metaverse ecosystem, there are hardware, or software, artificial intelligence and digital humans or not in full phygital transformation. In user-to-user interaction, there is social presence, emotional intelligence, verbal and non-verbal communication, analysis of social networks, artificial intelligence, virtual robotics, and natural language generation. In user interaction with businesses and brands, there are virtual showrooms and digital assistants, virtual advertisements, advertising, publicity and Marketing, digital product designs and prototyping, data analysis, smart business, training, phygitalized employees and blockchain. In the user's interaction with the object, there are artificial intelligences and robotic configurations, sensory technology, gamification, generative design, blockchain, open data and training.

Metaversity: These are campuses created in the metaverse under the demand of college, university center or university leaders to enhance immersive learning. The creation or (co) creation of digital twins from the physical higher education institution can be considered an advance of virtual and augmented reality in the educational area, since it enables immersive teaching and learning in higher education through virtual realities, augmented, mixed, or extended. The first metaversities were created in 2018 and, with the improvement of software and hardware, higher education institutions invested in technological infrastructure and in the purchase of glasses and headsets with virtual reality. The perception that simulations in health courses and immersive laboratories could help in teaching and learning increased the demand for the development of immersive educational solutions. The reduction of costs with physical structure and the mitigation of risks leveraged investments in metaverses for higher education. Companies such as VictoryXR and Frame are responsible for developing educational opportunities in higher education with virtual, augmented, mixed and extended realities. The proposal is that errors can be added to learning from an andragogical point of view and do not cause damage to human lives and infrastructure. Academics [avatars or digital humans] can experience the functioning of a human heart, for example, and can return to the organ whenever they have doubts. Professors, academics, and technical and administrative staff are three-dimensional digital avatars or humans in metaversity. One must replicate campuses in the metaverse is a limited use and research within the metaverse ecosystem in higher education should be encouraged so that phygital [physical and digital] opportunities enhance the inseparability of teaching, research, and extension activities. Innovation, disruptive technologies, and professions that do not yet exist in the educational area with the metaverse may be able to enable quality and environmental and social management in metaversities. The extension of campuses in the metaverse is sought, not just the digital twin and the digital can complement the physical in the phygital transformation.

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