Bringing Simulations and the Metaverse to the Higher Ed Classroom

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Michael Bodekaer Jensen, Founder and CEO at Labster, joins the podcast to talk about virtual lab simulations and the academic outcomes of bringing the metaverse to the higher ed classroom.

Just like flight simulators. We look very closely at what parts of the teaching material is the most expensive, time consuming or most dangerous areas to teach, and then we virtualize that. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect eedu podcast network. I'm Eric Olsen with Helix Education and we're here today with Michael Bodkare Jensen, founder and CEO at labster. Michael, welcome to the show. Thank you so watch. It's great to be here. Really excited to talk with you to day about bringing simulations and the Meta burst to the Higher Ed classroom. But before we dig in, can you give the listeners a little background on both yourself and labster? Yes, I'm the found and CEO here at labster and we're a group of three hundred fifty people passionately working on creating virtual science simulations for science subjects like biology, Chemistry and physics and medicine, and so we essentially scientists helping science teachers create engaging content for their students in the classroom, connect both as pre lab, post lab or even full replace been in some cases for real lab exercises. And we have several cases where we helped institutions teachers virtualize or create hybrid learning for their students to really engage the students, lower the cost for the institutions and also, especially, increase enrollments, which I hope we get to talk more about here today. Yeah, and and and, while it feels like a you know, Zuckerberg just arrived to the metaverse party, Michael's been leading the way for a while. So let's dig in your why should higher education look to leverage, to integrate the power of the metavers into their classrooms as in enrollment growth...

...strategy? I think there's a lot of really great case stories that I emphasize a couple of them here specifically, but there's so many different benefit aspects. But for enrollment specifically, I we see great ways to leverage the power of the metavers and virtual learning to truly engage the students and the parents and help them see the institutions and as modern institutions that are leveraging the power of technology to create better learning outcomes for their students. And we have a great cases, and one example, for instance, was with Arizona State University and together with Google as well, we build an entire four year virtual college degree, fully online, leveraging virtual simulations, fully accredited as well, and it's today one of the most popular as you degrees, which is is a great example where you can leverage that to drive enrolments. But also at the same time it helped them reduce overall tuition costs by reducing overall physical science cost it increases also the the learning outcomes for the students, and we've research studies to document that. And then it also reduces the workload for the teachers, which they love a lost we help make adaptive learning. We helped also automated grading and we help o walls is empower the teachers to become superheroes in these virtual metavers world by giving them data insides and virtual training symps that it can give their students. It's really impressive work. I think a lot of us are still trying to figure out and piece together what the metaverse is? This, this kind of newly popularized name that that is is not breaking brand new ground. So can you help us understand your use case, specifically in in virtual lab simulations, and how they work? Yeah, I think, and it's a really good point, and I think many people get initially scared about the concept of a murdered metaverse. Do we need to move the entire university or institution into the metavers? And that's certainly not the case. To your point, we've worked on this for more than ten years now to date, and what...

...we essentially help educate us in institution is to make it really easy and symbol to leverage the power of the metavers in small biteside's chunk. You can imagine it a little bit like inserting youtube videos into your curriculum, only we create these interactive, immersive, interactive learning simulations which are really storylines that the students are missions that the students go on to both learn the skills that they need to master the concepts but also apply those skills to real world scenarios and cases within these virtual wells. The real engage the students. It increases the learning outcomes because they understand the concept much better, and this is one of the things that we work really hard on. Is exactly this point of making it easy for educators and institution to leverage it. You can get started in literally ten minutes getting set up. We have our own Simpol element system, or you can integrate it into existing elements systems like Canavas, moodal and so forth, and we do empower teachers with training in a little as little as half an hour, for them to really let verage the power. There so lots of no excuse it for not to try out at least the potential for the bet. Ever, so it's saying, let's get into the the details of what you can and can't do in a simulation versus a lab experience. Let's talk about kind of the cost benefits of the things you can do and play within a simulation versus what it would cost otherwise create an actual lab that allows you to do similar things. Yeah, and here I really like the analogy of a flight simulator. We all familiar with flight simulators and how they dramatically reduces cost of training pilots, but also the safety over all. Right, we don't necessarily think about that, but I'm happy that the pilot I fly with is not the first time they go into a real a Plam to have been in a virtual training simulations for a long time before that that moment, and we should be thinking about the same thing when it comes to teaching science.

It is in many cases very dangerous or in many cases time consuming very costly for the students to use and leverage these real world physical labs, and often also the schools can only provide very limited time or access to the labs, and so by leveraging virtual simulations you can not only reduce cost, you can also increase access, equal access as well. We have full accessibility support, for instance, for for any students who are visually impaired or of other types of impairments. We give them full access to this or even for remote learners. Obviously, in this world we live in now, they can get equal access to the in full experience, even if they have to, for whatever reason, work from home for a couple of weeks and so forth, and they can stay up with the cheating and curriculum. So, just like flight simulators, we look very closely at what parts of the teaching material is the most expensive, time consuming or most dangerous areas to teach and then we virtualize that and we work with top leading institutions all over the world, top experts, to really ensure the quality of the learning material as well. So with this approach we can really always ensure that our similar simulation is provide the most value at reduce cost. And what we have several studies working with entire systems or individual institutions where we demonstrate that by virtualizing parts of the education and you can, you don't have to entire entirely virtualize the courses, but just parts of it, you can still reduce cost by up towards ninety percent compared to using physical science facilities for biology, chemistry, physics and so forth. So massive cost savings. Potential learning outcomes increases, as well as student engagement by using the power of gaming in the murderment in the middlevers. Yeah, even beyond the the cost savings are their additional constraints in limitations within a physical...

...lab environment that you just don't have to deal with in a virtual simulation. Yeah, exactly. I mean I think that you can obviously with the pandemic here, we saw so many students experiencing learning laws because of the inability to access physical APPs, and that continues now. is we live increasing in a world where institutions have to be either prepare for having hybrid or even, in many cases now implementing fully hybrid learning environments, and in those cases the virtual wealth can really help ensure that all students have equal access. They can always stay up to date with any learning and we don't experience any learning laws otherwise that would otherwise be happening. In addition to that, does as a means we have full accessibilities Support v KEC double a compliance, which is really important as well for ensuring accessibility. So that's another are thing that we actually can leverage the power of virtual learning and the metaverse to create experiences that otherwise some students would not necessarily be able to experience in the physical laps due to these constraints. So so yeah, your metaphor about about flight simulations and that obvious benefit is such a such a good metaphor. The the other one that I jump to was why so many educational leaders find Harvard Business Schools case study model so successful is because of how practical the learning is, putting these students into these real time situations. It's very simulation based. Would you suggest that lab simulations provide this similar benefit? Yes, yeah, I mean it's really incredible what we see in the research studies, and we have now more than sixteen peer reviewed independent research studies that document the learning outcomes off the virtual simulations that we create. And I want to emphasize here not all virtual laps are created equal, that there are there many different quality levels and we really emphasize and invest heavily in the highest possible level of quality when it comes to learning outcomes and gamification and accessibility and so forth. But what we see in the studies...

...is that when we impower the students with case based learning, engaging storylines and allow them to apply their learnings as they learning them in these case stories and examples, it dramatically increases the learning outcomes. Study that was published even in in nature magazine, highly period High High Quality Science Paper documented a doubling, a one hundred one percent increase in the learning outcomes for the students when we compare or combined it with the traditional teaching lectures as well. So this is really a way for teachers to leverage the power of the metavers and virtual learning to dopple the learning outcomes off their time spend the same amount of time spent with their students. So it's a really powerful experience for the students as well as this superhero power, at that's like to call it, for the educators. So we generally really liked the idea of how it how it business school case studies and we take the same learnings and experiences for that and we apply that in this science and healthcare teaching space as well with these virtual learning experiences. And I want to give one other example that that I think really demonstrates this potential that you have in the virtual world. You can imagine in in a physical lap, if a teacher started out by saying, all right, everyone, we know that learning through failure and trial and error is a great way of learning, so I want to guys just to go and it's into the science lab and just have fun, break stuff and environment every way. And obviously this is not a good stop physical lab and are there are cases where we've had explosions. Literally. We've seen that here in Massachusett, Boston, where we're based, where and many other parts of the world that there are incidents happening in the laps, but at the same time you can dramatically increase learning outcomes if you allow the students to learn through failure and trial an error, and this is what we can do in these virtual environments. We allow the students to experiment and test and especially understand what happens if they perform...

...and explode a dangerous experiment, and there are literally some of our experiments where we allow the students to open endedly completely make any type of chemicals they want and and in many cases end up with actual explosions in the lab, so that they understand the dangerous and how to also react in those cases, how to apply the right safety protocols and so forth, to ensure that you're fully prepared for entering the physical HAP before you do so, just like the flight simulator there as well. It's so exciting that you've been able to see and prove out that increase in outcomes. I am curious for maybe your specific thoughts on on. Why do you think this is happening? I think I think for a lot of us were the Meta versus a newer concept us. We see a lot of novelty there, we see some gimmick there. What is actually happening where the students are learning deeper and they are more engaged? Is it the fun novelty aspect of we we can see the outcomes, we can see it's actually happening, but what do you think is actually happening? That's a really interesting question and I so. I we work with leading researchers around the world when it both comes to the scientific topics, but also game design experts, but all so learning science experts. So it's a whole feel within learning design and curriculum design, instructural design, and we take the cutting edge research and we apply that to the design of these learning experiments. So it's important say you cannot just create a virtual world and then send in the students to allow them to create different types of experiments. You have to think very carefully about what kind of pedagogical approach applies best to this type of topic or teaching or learning outcome that you're seeking to teach the students. And so one one such example is a research within productive failure, which relates to what I just talked about. There's a whole research field just around how student learn. Students learned the best through failure and in that specific case there's a very interesting research demonstrating that if we allow the students to experiment and and actually reach a...

...certain level of frustration, so we don't make it too easy for the students, we allow them to be sort of reach a failure point that starts to make them wonder, HMM, why, why is this not working? And that triggers parts of the brain and activates parts of the brain. Essentially you call it's called activation of prior knowledge that is relevant for then learning the actual concept that you're now about to learn. So once we've primed the student essentially through these initial experiences and activated prior knowledge, then we can teach them the specific concept that we want the tune students to teach. So we really work carefully with these experts to ensure they've always design the storylines both so they are engaging, fun and leverage is game design, but also these aspects of learning signs so super fascinating and interesting. And just to give you a sense of just how complex it is, we invest heavily in every single simulation. I like to say they're really eats and every one of them a true masterpiece and and it really is a combination of ten people in the group we call thems content squads that worked closely together across all these different disciplines to ensure the highest level quality, highest level of learning outcome, student engagement and so forth. Michael's incredibly impressive work leave us with some next steps. Institutions listening to this, envying the institutions you mentioned too, or are you little ahead of them there? They want to start baby stepping their way toward bringing simulations to their classroom. Where should they start? Yeah, I mean that as a reasonally, can get going in ten minutes at least. They try it out or have a couple of teachers and students give it a try in your institution and highly recommend that. We have free trial access. You can go to lapstercom, sign up for a trial and get that going initially and see that effect and then, you know, think of ways or courses, curriculums or degrees where you think you could spice up that degree a little bit with some virtual metaverse gaming to really inspire both the students to apply or and roll in those...

...degrees, but also for the parents to really see the cutting at sinologies that are being applied there. That would be my recommendation and again super as that. To get started, you don't have to be scared and you don't have to convert the entire curriculum or institution into a virtual metaverse. You can literally just insert parts of that metaverse, snippets off it, into your existing degrees and courses. Michael, thank you so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to reach out if they have any followed questions or want to take advantage of that demo? I would love to talk to you or hear from you, so write me anytime. Michael and Labstercom, or go to a website labstercom, check out the hundreds of learning simulations and see which part you would be most interested in and then give it a try there. Awesome, Michael, thanks so much for joining us today. Thank you. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcoma playbook you've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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