You can’t avoid hearing about the metaverse these days – this relatively new conception is impacting how we envision the future of retail, travel, social media, and of course, education. Still in its infancy, when and how the metaverse will revolutionize education is difficult to predict. But the vision is there.
How Will the Metaverse Impact Education?
There is no question that the metaverse will impact education. What we experienced during the height of the pandemic, with students and teachers being forced into virtual spaces for learning, has only highlighted how important it is to embrace technology. And as jobs of the future require more technical knowledge, we must ensure that students have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art technology, to better prepare them to be part of the modern workforce. But because the metaverse is still under construction, so to speak, an opportunity exists for education leaders to help ensure the metaverse serves schools and students properly.
Educators Can Lead the Way
In an exciting look at education in the metaverse from Brookings, the authors point out, “Today, as the metaverse infrastructure is still under construction, researchers, educators, policymakers, and digital designers have a chance to lead the way rather than get caught in the undertow.” They paint a picture of interactive, multidisciplinary, cross-curricular education that immerses students directly into the environment about which they are learning. The authors of the Brookings research note that, “the interaction is inherently social with live people and live moment to moment, emotionally laden interactions. And notice that the teachers are still crucial to this experience.”
Experiences in the Metaverse Affect Our Brains Differently
Why is the metaverse such an important consideration for education? Because the learning is active, rather than passive. The learning creates memories for the students of actually being in a place. The Brookings research used ancient Greece as an example, but any historical location could have just as easily been used, or an astronomical phenomenon, or a field trip somewhere that a school could never afford to budget (The Louvre, for example). Stephen Fromkin writes in a Fast Company article, “Interactions in the metaverse give us the impression that we are having real experiences and creating real memories – because we are.”
But What About Measurable Outcomes?
We will hopefully move well beyond standardized testing and measure student success in more practical ways. One form of measurement is engagement. Imagine students being excited about education, being able to interact with figures from history, and being able to step into places from a distance – to touch, feel, and look around while there. A good example of rudimentary AI that is paving the way for education in the metaverse is the Digital Einstein Experience. Try it out. With a simple permission to use your microphone, you can have a conversation with Einstein, and he will respond to your questions.
The metaverse is coming. It is an inevitability. How it will impact education is still up in the air, but we have a huge opportunity to help guide the process to ensure we are meeting the needs of students, teachers, and districts as it becomes more commonplace.