“I can’t live this lifeless life anymore. Screens, lectures, messages, emails, marks, deadlines, expectations, this room, that laptop, religion, constraints, health, family, emotions, theories, equations, numbers…and me, there are many reasons. Thanks and sorry for everything.”
These were the last words of a young student at a top Indian university before he died. He was a young man in his prime who should be happy and enjoying life.
Was this a one-off incident? Statistics clearly say no. The World Health Organization (WHO), in its 2021 report, said that about 700,000 people commit suicide worldwide each year, making it the fourth leading cause of death between her 15 and her 29 years in the world. said. A 2017 WHO report on mental health found that among children aged 13 to 15 in India, 25% experienced feelings of depression and 8% experienced symptoms of loneliness. doing.
The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating a mental illness “pandemic” around the world.
Ann OECD surveypublished in May 2021, reported rising levels of anxiety in the general population in a number of countries. For example, in the UK he increased from 19% to 39%. US he went from 8.2% to 30.8%. Australia, from 13% to 21%. New Zealand from 6.1% to 15.6%. These numbers show how severe mental health problems have become during the pandemic.
We seem to have forgotten a simple universal law of humanity. Our social interactions and implicit reliance on each other’s actions can trigger emotional reactions.The virus itself is a serious physical illness, but its greatest impact is on our mental health, where the loss of face-to-face contact increases loneliness (Sommerlad et al., 2021). Adults and children are no longer able to share their emotional experiences and have lost the joyful emotional exchange that occurs when they come together in groups (Brooks et al., 2020). Social connections are essential to the human experience. For example, most students report that school is primarily a social-emotional space and secondarily a learning space.
What we have to learn from this experience is that we need to transform our learning spaces. They should be about relationships first, and knowledge second. Mental health management comes first, cognition comes second.
So what does this learning environment look like in the metaverse?
The Metaverse ushered in a single, universally connected, online virtual world. Cultivating emotional resilience in this online world requires creating social and emotional spaces. For humans to learn, adapt and thrive effectively, they need to feel socially connected and emotionally secure.
How can I enable this in the metaverse?
- Improve attention span – Life in the Metaverse presents an information overload full of distractions and confusion. Unlike in the past when students received most of their information from textbooks, today’s information is continuously updated and available at the click of a button. Knowledge will continue to move faster as technology advances. However, using multiple learning modes, such as sound, movement, flicker, and color, can be distracting. This is shown in a recent study by Horwood and Anglim (2019), who stated that the availability of devices “within arm’s reach” increased foggyness and decreased the ability to regulate thoughts, memories, and emotions. It is This contributes to shorter attention spans in children and adults. In order to navigate this ‘busy’, ‘noisy’ and ‘distracted’ metaverse, learners need to learn and practice ‘attentional regulation’. Attention regulation is the ability to focus and focus on the activity or task at hand. A balance of exploration, selection, and meaningful interaction helps develop the attention you need. The metaverse needs tasks that allow children to explore the environment and provide opportunities to discover new objects and experiences. For example, an activity that requires finding hidden objects in a digital image can help grab attention. Attentional coordination as a learning ability in our educational system beginning in early childhood helps foster attention span by suppressing distractions.
- Regulating Emotions – Interaction and learning provoke feelings and emotions. You need to develop emotional awareness to pause and notice your body’s emotional signals. Practicing Pause – Consciously allocating space and time inwardly and noticing physical sensations such as “my heart is pounding,” “my feet are shaking,” and “my hands are sticky,” can help improve your health. essential for It helps to breathe when things seem to fall apart. Evidence shows that counting and focusing your breaths can help you calm your mind. Whether dealing with difficult conversations with colleagues, family, friends, teachers, or students, the ability to regulate emotions and attention has been proven to reduce attendant anxiety, fear, anger, or despair. It is the practice of
For example, it is important to teach children to pause and pause when they are angry or frightened, and to recognize physical emotions. A perforated stomach and a pounding heart are physical symptoms that are often accompanied by intense emotional reactions. In that case, my friend. apps; conscious exercises such as counting numbers, breathing, and floor tiles; Time-outs or breaks; or walking are all good ways that you can physically distract your attention and dampen some of your emotional intensity.
- build empathy – Empathy is a powerful force that provokes emotions and connects humans. It can be evoked using stories and verbal exchanges. Stories stimulate brain networks that build emotional connections. Dialogue facilitates and enhances the sharing of knowledge, ideas, words and feelings. This is true whether we are discussing cultural diversity across physical spaces or learning in a classroom. The story can be invoked through multiple modes easily provided in the digital world. This includes oral, written, video, cartoon, virtual reality and even gameplay. This diverse narrative delivery has the capacity to meet the needs of all learners (Vaccaro et al., 2021).
An online, interactive, digital game-based course was recently designed in the Metaverse.It was developed around a text-based chat interface game called Very Me, My Love, It was also used to introduce students to the global refugee crisis (Mukund et al., 2022). The course leveraged game pause points and incorporated explicit activities such as discussion, reflection, and podcasts to highlight points where you need to be aware of your own perspective and that of immigrants. This motivated learners to learn about migrants, develop empathy, and act towards positive change. I hope this learning experience translates into the real world in terms of behavior change. The course also allowed teachers to facilitate classroom discussion and create mixed or hybrid learning models.
- Develop compassion and gratitude – Acts of kindness activate the pleasure and reward networks in the brain, releasing endorphins and oxytocin. This is a brain chemical that provides comfort and safety, and restores joy and hope. It must be emphasized that learning, whether face-to-face or metaverse, fosters compassion and gratitude. Compassion in the Metaverse is about positive change. It is about taking positive action to relieve pain and suffering and help others. No matter how small the action may seem, small actions multiplied by billions can change the world.
- promote the community – The biggest lesson learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of global connectivity. The Metaverse provides a great opportunity to raise learners’ awareness of the connected world we live in. Because the online world is the “web,” we already perceive it as connected, but the physical world is often perceived as one of physically separate silos. Clear. Learning in the Metaverse, using digital interaction, multiplayer games, and more, provides an opportunity to recognize the value of the connected world we all must protect and preserve for everyone and the future. . It provides a space for young learners to connect across geographical distances and thus offers the potential to build global citizenship.
The metaverse is here to stay, and learners cannot be allowed to disappear from the metaverse. Instead, we have to embrace the mixed reality of the physical and virtual worlds. In this mixed reality, the challenge is to maintain full awareness of when you are in the metaverse and when you are in the physical world, and to remember the importance of navigating both worlds in an emotionally resilient way. increase. Living in this complex reality requires building attentional coordination, supported by a set of abilities for emotional regulation, empathy, and compassion. Putting social and emotional learning at the center of the metaverse not only bridges the virtual-real divide (loss of awareness of the invisible line between virtual and reality), but also drives behavioral change You will have the opportunity to build a strong community and kinship. in the real world.
Nandini Chatterjee Singh, UNESCO MGIEP Senior Project Officer and Anantha Duraiappah, UNESCO MGIEP Director
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