fbpx
Fira Barcelona, Gran Vía
31 Jan - 03 Feb 2023

Learning in the metaverseDigital Learning Summit: Keynote Speaker Interview

Fridolin Wild

Digital Learning Summit keynote speaker Professor Fridolin Wild talks about his ‘GhostTrack’ technology, which allows experts to create training packages that feature 4D holographic projection. He explains why the time is right for learning in the metaverse to be rolled out into the mainstream.

Fridolin Wild is Professor at the Institute of Educational Technology of The Open University, where he leads the work of the Performance Augmentation Lab (PAL).

Originally from Germany, has also worked in at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria. He has headed numerous EU, European Space Agency and nationally funded research projects. He also leads a number of special interest groups and working groups on topics related to wearables, augmented reality and standards.

What learning contexts are you working in?

My work is heavily focused on rapid reskilling for workforce development. I want to close the gap between abstract knowledge and its practical application.

I’m looking at radically new ways of linking directly from knowing something ‘in principle’ to being able to apply that knowledge in practice. The use of augmented reality can help us accelerate learning, speeding up the process of turning something we learned in the classroom into demonstrable competencies.

The ‘ghost in the machine’ that I will be presenting at the Digital Learning Summit is an avatar that can provide just-in-time instruction, for example to someone using complicated machinery. ‘GhostTrack’ technology allows the learner to be guided by an expert using 4D holographic projection.

The integrated experience capture links competence with performance, which is key in autonomous self-improvement.

That sounds a bit like magic …

I often use magic as a metaphor to explain the idea of ‘reality as a platform’; how to change the world without changing it.

This is far from being just a party trick, though. We are way past the pilot stage. Learning in the metaverse is something we are doing today.

We have tested this with a wide range of industries and job roles. It has been tested with radiologists, aeroplane maintenance engineers, stagehands, furniture production, helicopter production, sewing, maintenance of weaving mills and quality assurance of cars.

We have even run pilots for space: training astronauts and engineers.

How easy is it to create learning content for ghosts?

One of the main aims of this research is to make it easy. The aim is that authoring this type of content, performance capture and step-by-step guidance by an expert, should be as easy as explaining to someone.

We have already made enormous progress: someone with experience of the technology can produce a good quality learning activity in a few hours. As a rule of thumb, 30 minutes’ consumption should equal about two hours’ production time.

Previously, you needed both subject matter experts and instructional designers but this is changing rapidly. Our latest trials resulted in an academic radiologist colleague describing this as a ‘game changer’ because they were able to create learning content without a developer or instructional designer.

What technology and standards lie behind this?

The IEEE ARLEM (augmented reality learning experience models) working group is developing an overarching conceptual model that describes interactions between the physical world, the user and digital information.

I have been working on the Mirage XR open source platform for several years now, which is a flagship implementation of the standard. Mirage XR is a holographic authoring tool and player for mixed reality experiences. It can be used to create and teach details of ‘how to’ procedures fast, in any environment.

We are solving the problem that sequencing standards for this type of content usually lack: the capability and flexibility to be executed in the real world. Standard zipped data packages hold and transfer all of the content, including readings of body movements, workflow descriptions and bindings to the real world, so that future workplaces can easily bridge digital information across into real-world execution.

What about the learner experience?

As well as trials in higher education, we have been doing a public beta pilot for over a year and are about to run some pilots with schools.

It’s not an everyday experience for all learners. Some people who are very tech savvy take to it immediately, whereas with other students you may need to spend 20 minutes explaining to them how to use smart glasses.

Given the scale of our testing, we are however confident that this is ready for large-scale rollout. We have research papers looking at the impact on retention, engagement, satisfaction and engagement levels and the results are looking great.

At The Open University, UK, we are already planning to make this available as a standard feature in our learning platform. By the end of this year, we hope to have a five-year plan to create content for all subject areas, covering our 175,000 students.

Is digital poverty a barrier to using next generation learning resources?

We are very conscious of this issue. I was consulted by the team that produced a report on digital poverty for the UK higher education sector in 2020.

We are not where we hoped we would be with smart glasses. Hardware manufacturers sold several hundreds of thousands of devices in 2021, with sales split across several vendors and platforms. Good smart glasses are still relatively expensive, similar to a pricey notebook, so the premium experience is still limited in numbers and does not stand up in mass reach to the AR-enabled smartphone market, which grew to over a billion devices in 2021.

Even so, there are possible solutions such as collaboration with public libraries to loan smart glasses. We have seen teaching hospitals contract with service providers who loan, ship and clean the glasses. The idea of a skills library to roll out this kind of kit is interesting.

The market situation pushed us to look at other devices. We have developed for iOS and Android and it is now seamless on those devices, which makes it far-reaching.

Oddly enough, tablets and phones tend to be relatively high quality in poor areas as they are the user’s main device, replacing laptop or desktop computers.

Not everyone changes their phone every year though, and we have tried as far as possible to be compatible with older devices. In general, anything five to seven years old is still supported. We support any Apple product from 2014 onwards and any Android product from 2016 onwards.

You will always find cheaper phones without a gyroscope or with a poor camera. A €40 phone may well not give you a proper AR experience and we are conscious of the need to put support in place for students who can’t upgrade their phone.

Making next-generation learning accessible to all is something that the industry and learning providers need to work at. Equipment isn’t the only issue: adequate study space is just as important. Our vision of the future can’t simply involve locking people in a simulation. It’s a problem if someone is moving through your holograms, or making noise during your Zoom call, or if you have no clear space to write notes.

What’s next?

We want to get this type of learning into the mainstream. We have the technology, the pilots, the outreach and the support so, if we can’t make it happen now, then when?

I’m a huge fan of open source and it is in the spirit of The Open University. We have to get technologies out there. The pandemic has shown the need for this. Now is the time to make the metaverse open before the market shuts it down.

Fridolin Wild is the keynote speaker at the Digital Learning Summit, which takes place on Wednesday 11 May at ISE 2022.  

You may also like to read...

Our sponsors and partners

Presenting Show Partner

KNX

Bronze Sponsors

Adder Technology Limited
Sennheiser
Cloud Electronics

Platinum Sponsors

Sound United
Crestron
Jabra
Shure
Lang AG

Media Partners

Grupo eventoplus
Sistemi Integrati
365 Retail
Medientechnik & Systemintegration
Resolution
POS-Manager Technology
proaudio.tech
OFFICE ROXX
Essential Install
Equipamiento para centros educatives
IT Business
Commercial Integrator US
Digital Security Magazine
Systems Contractor News
Doctor ProAudio.com
AV Technology
ON OFF
Hotel Management International
Mediakwest
Mondo*stadia
TVBEurope
UC News
rAVe [PUBS]
POS-Ladenbau
AV-views
instalia.eu
A1 Lighting
AVNation
DCN
Residential Systems
OnlineLightExpress.in
proaudio.tech
iXtenso.com
Future
Lighting Asia
Independent Education Today
HiddenWires
Sonovision
Professional System
LAVNCH [CODE]
Blooloop
Inavate APAC
SignPro Europe
KNXtoday
CASADOMO
digital signage
InPark Magazine
CEtoday
ISP Integración
Ebner Media Group
a&s Adria
Event Partner
AV News
Business Partner PBS
Tecnohotel
KommunikationsRaum
PROSOUND
CE Pro US
TPI
Lighting&Sound America
HC Home Comfort&Design
ECN - Electrical Contracting News
Essential Install Commercial
Electricien+
Education Technology
Retail Focus
UC Today
Smart Building Italia
ISP Audio & Light
A1 Retail magazine
mondo dr
Inavate EMEA
Enterprise Management 360
PRO AV NORWAY
Interempresas Seguridad
Score Magazine
ESMARTCITY
Systems Integration Asia
Mix
Installation
Smart Buildings Magazine
display Verlags GmbH
IntegrationMag
Panorama Audiovisual
AV magazine
TPMEA
Media BIZ
Comunicaciones Hoy
AVI Latinoamerica
SYSTEM INTEGRATOR MAGAZINE
LightSoundJournal
Educacion 3.0
Light & Sound International
IT Reseller
smartintegracionesmag.com
Sound & Video Contractor
Sign and Display
asmag.com
IT-Markt
Pro AVL MEA
AV Magazine
AV-SIGNAGE
DA Retail
Pro AVL Asia
Digital AV Magazine
TPV News
ProMediaNews
Connected Home & Business
Conectronica
Production Partner
InfoAV China
Connessioni
AVNews.hu
rAVe Europe
Smart Intégrations Mag
Domotica.it
AVintegracje Magazine
University Business
FKT

Event Partners

Webex by Cisco
Sony
Women in Lighting
ZeeVee
Jabra
Poly
Matrox
Sharp NEC
Shure
Easescreen
Wildwood PR
Crestron

Gold Sponsors

INFiLED
Barco
Lenovo

Associate Partners

Wildwood PR
ISCVE
Domonetio

Official Marketing Suppliers

Future
Fizzz Media
Inavate APAC
SmallWorld Publishing

Silver Sponsors

Televic

Technology Partners

Netgear
Middle Atlantic
Listen Technologies
Pixera
Lang AG
Vioso
Adamson
Exhibition Hub
AV Drop
Barco
AVstumpfl
Shure
Fluge AV
HD Ledshine
Midwich Group Plc