Past, Present and Future -Metaverse in Education
| Prof. Nada Ratkovic - 01 Oct 2022

The metaverse was first described in the 1992 novel Snow Crash by the author Neal Stephenson. He coined the term metaverse as a kind of next-generation virtual reality-based Internet. “Metaverse” is an acronym formed from the word “goal”, which means “transcendent”, and the last 2 syllables from the word “space”, that is, “verse”. 
  Recently, on a global level, a lot of content and information is read, heard, and watched about one new technology and new technological field. This new multi-purpose platform can raise our online experience to a new level. But, the metaverse concept isn’t new and is considered the next evolution of the Internet with some new building blocks in place.  The metaverse doesn’t compete with the internet -- it builds on it. While the basic idea of being able to engage in a virtual online world has been around for many years, a true metaverse where lifelike interactions are possible is still years away. So it is true that the Metaverse is a promise of something new, something that brings the digital experience into the real world and vice versa.  New Interest in the metaverse is rapidly rising during the pandemic in the new era of virtual learning around the world. 
 Therefore, its meaning applied to this technology tends to show its potential. One way to achieve status in the metaverse was by technical skill (avatar), and another indication of status was the ability to access certain restricted environments (registrations and paywalls) in the sense that users experience a new reality. Unfortunately Snow Crash didn’t put the metaverse in a positive light because it was more of a dystopian view of the future. Another novel that helped popularize the idea of the metaverse is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Directed by Steven Spielberg it was later made into a movie where the novel is set in the year 2045. Users access the world using a virtual reality visor, and touch and grab objects in the digital environment with haptic gloves. The definition from Matthew Ball, the venture capitalist is mostly used to explain the term metaverse. The definition has seven main elements: First, is always present and has no end. Second, can be experienced synchronously by multiple people. Third, does not have a population cap and can be shared by everyone, while each individual retains their agency. Fourth, can offer a fully functioning economy. The fifth can span both the digital and physical worlds, as well as open and closed platforms. Sixth is interoperable, so digital tools and assets from one app can be used in others. The seventh contains content and experiences created by a range of contributors.
Metaverse in Education 
 Like all technologies, educators accepted the metaverse too. According to the Digital Learning Collaborative, in the 2018/2019 school year, 375,000 students were enrolled in full-time, statewide virtual schools. By the 2020/2021 school year, the number had nearly doubled to 656,000 students. In education, three things appear true. First, innovation theory suggests that the early successful instances that apply elements of the metaverse will be proprietary. That means that the metaverse will be a safe and healthy place for children. Second, the metaverse seems more of a sustaining than a disruptive innovation for full-time virtual schools. Finally, metaverse applications can create educational experiences that are otherwise impossible in a traditional environment. Virtual reality can bring real people and knowledge from other parts of the world into classrooms everywhere. 
First metaverse event in Croatia
 Virtual space can significantly help and added value in many areas. Croatia Telecom-Hrvatski Telekom (HT) is by far the largest investor in the optical network in Croatia. HT due to the high technological requirements adds to the evolution of the metaverse from the early to the mature stage. The basic basis for the realization of ideas is the infrastructure of 5G, WiFi 6, 6G networks, and the cloud. HT has already tested 5G+ in a live network at 26GHz, a technology that enables multi-gigabit speeds of up to 4 Gbit/s and a response time of fewer than 10 milliseconds, which are extremely important for the development of the metaverse and the creation of a whole new ecosystem.
 It already has an infrastructure that covers the distance from the Earth to the Moon and back because the total length of the fiber optic cables is 768,000 kilometers. The optical network developed by the company is capable of supporting much higher speeds than today’s, which was confirmed by the recent test of HT 25G PON technology, in which the measured speed was even higher than 20 Gbit/s.
 Metaverse is a 3D digital disruptive technological concept that will play a significant role in the coming years in the transformation of education, work, entertainment, and socialization. The use of new digital and digitally enhanced environments becomes possible through the use of optical networks with high symmetrical transmission speeds and low latencies
 It is, namely, an evolved version of the Internet, that is, a huge interoperable network of virtualized 3D worlds, which a large number of simultaneously connected people can experience in real-time. At the same time, one of its key characteristics is an optimized personal experience.
 So, we will not live in virtual, but we will in augmented reality. The future that virtual reality brings us is incredible and we will only feel its full potential in the coming years. Metaverse will be available to us through thousands of applications that we modify and use. So, we need to follow the concept Explore-Discover-Create, the fundamentals of technology in the future.


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