Claire Field on the coming force in immersive on-line learning


It may be the global tech companies and gaming platforms, rather than traditional learning management system providers, that education institutions will need to turn to

With the pace of government-led policy reform underway in Australian tertiary education at present it can be difficult to find time to look over the horizon.

Many CMM readers will have seen the recent headlines of Microsoft’s US$68.7 bn acquisition of leading “game development and interactive entertainment content publisher” Activision Blizzard.

Fewer perhaps will have made the connection between this announcement and their education offerings.

With three billion reported games users in the world today – the more that gaming and entertainment offer fully immersive experiences (in the metaverse), the more people are likely to expect that on-line learning will also be fully immersive.

Rebecca Kantar, head of education at the on-line games platform Roblox, spoke at the December 2021 QS Reimagine conference. Roblox reports 47m daily active users and they are now looking to unlock the platform’s educational potential, particularly in schools.

Moving beyond social media and gaming, and into education in the metaverse, is also at the heart of Facebook’s current strategy.

John Preston, at the London School of Economics, writes persuasively of the potential of the metaverse to change the work of educators. And in November Colin Simpson provided CMM readers insights on the tools which will support learning in the metaverse.

As Australian institutions grapple with how much of their COVID shift to on-line delivery to retain, and as the government encourages much more on-line, offshore delivery – it may not be enough to plan for continuous improvement of current on-line offerings. It also may be the global tech companies and gaming platforms (rather than traditional learning management system providers) who education institutions will need to turn to, to move their on-line delivery to a fully immersive experience.

Major disruption to on-line learning needs to be in the minds of education leaders at the same time that they grapple with the reforms underway in the here and now.

Claire Field is the host of the free ‘What now? What next?’ podcast. In the latest episode she speaks with Gavin Lind from AUSMESA on the reforms underway in the VET sector