Students’ Intentions Towards the Adoption of the Metaverse in UAE Higher Education Using an Extended UTAUT2 Model: A Hybrid SEM-ANN Approach

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
This research paper examines students’ intentions towards the metaverse technology acceptance in UAE’s higher education. However, limited research is available on the impact of using the metaverse technology for teaching and learning. The COVID-19 crisis had a great impact on the teaching and learning process. Thus, the use of the metaverse in education has the power to transform conventional approaches to instruction learning by giving students engaging, immersive experiences. The primary motivation behind this study was to understand students' intentions of accepting the implementation of this new technology in higher education. Because UAE always aims to improve its sectors by investing in technology usage, it has been chosen to conduct this study. The study aims to investigate learners’ intentions towards the metaverse in UAE’s higher education by applying a convenience sampling technique to collect 313 responses using an online survey. An extended UTAUT2 model is a useful framework integrated to comprehend the ten factors that affect the metaverse's effective adoption in educational contexts. The study identifies behavioral intentions (BI) as an essential factor to measure users’ intention of using the metaverse in higher education. Compared to other literatures, the study adopts a novel methodology by using artificial neural networks (ANN) and structural equation modelling (SEM) to test the hypotheses. The study findings revealed that perceived innovation had the most significant effect on the metaverse use in higher education, with an (87%) normalized importance score, followed by social influence (82%), performance expectancy (79%), habit (72%), satisfaction (62.4%), ubiquity (49%), and perceived risk (36%). Sensitivity analysis results further revealed that these factors play a crucial role in shaping students’ attitudes towards using the metaverse in education, as well as its impact on the learning process. The practical significance of the study enables the relevant educational stakeholders to consider the main factors that could affect students’ BI towards the use of the metaverse in learning. However, further research is needed to verify the findings and broaden the application of the suggested theoretical framework to other fields.
metaverse, higher education, United Arab Emirates (UAE), UTAUT2 model