Leaders in various fields are working to join digital experiences with the physical world. Now, some experts are pushing for the use of the metaverse technology, a combination of video with augmented and virtual reality, to help in the educational sphere.
According to Cambridge University, “meta” means beyond and “verse” refers to the universe. Ray Oldenburg, a Sociologist, describes metaverse as a “third space” that combines the live world with virtual experiences.
Metaverse is an idea that has been around for some time. According to USA Today, the word metaverse was created in 1992 in Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel, “Snow Crash.” In the book, he created an environment of virtual reality with life-sized avatars.
More recently, Mark Zuckerberg brought the term to the forefront of technology conversation when the CEO announced Facebook would be renamed Meta. Zuckerberg envisions the metaverse as a virtual world where real people interact and participate in work, entertainment, and travel via digital avatars.
When it comes to the classroom, educators are saying that, instead of children sitting at a desk and listening to a history lesson while trying to imagine the scene in their minds, the metaverse will create an engaging, exciting environment where they can see the event right before their own eyes. It makes imagination a bit more vivid and life-like, putting students directly into the lesson.
The way an EdSurge Podcast puts it, instead of hearing about Socrates, Socrates can tell children who he was and show them around.
According to the Brookings Institute, real social interaction is essential for children, and virtual reality experiences do not have to take away from that; education in the era of the metaverse would be a hybrid of virtual and physical learning. Teachers would still lead lessons and students would still participate in live interaction among peers, but the virtual elements would create a meaningful and unforgettable education experience to connect children to the lesson.
While the metaverse is still under construction, clear communication among developers, scientists, researchers, policymakers, and educators is crucial to its future success in the classroom.
Of course, academics are important, but according to the Brookings Institute, other principles should also be covered, such as critical thinking, collaboration, creative innovation, communication, content, and confidence to be prepared for adulthood and the working environment. Children would be able to bring what they learn virtually right into the real world.
Temple University professor of psychology, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, stated that education leaders in other areas are making their opinions known regarding the metaverse’s creation to guide developers on what they believe is important, so the final product will emerge as a purposeful and intentional tool for education.
Educators are not looking to use the current educational apps on the market but rather to lead developers to create an immersive, high-quality educational experience with metaverse.