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Are Edtech and the Metaverse the New Pen and Paper?

Reading used to be the preferred way to transport yourself into another world. Very soon, teachers and students will have an even more realistic way to immerse themselves: the Metaverse.

With edtech like VR goggles and other physically responsive tools, schools will be able to fully interact with, learn, and study in 3D recreations like never before.

Discover how these simulated realities will shape the future of edtech – or whether it be the other way around.

What Is the Metaverse?

In a Forbes roundup of metaverse definitions, leaders from across the tech sector offered their most fundamental understanding of this new world. All centered around three themes:

1. Intersection.

Think of the metaverse as a sort of “third “space” where your digital life and your “real” life overlap and interact. In an educational context, this blending can help with learning immersion by encouraging students to more fully interact with their coursework.

2. Interconnection.

Different “universes” make up the metaverse. Each connects with others, linking actions in one setting with results in another. For instance, if a student puts on a school uniform before their history world, they’re still seen in it once they enter the math universe later in the day.

3. Interoperability.

Additional metaverses will connect in a similar way, making it possible to share educational concepts and materials with a global community across the large-scale multiplatform.

Education Technology offers this hypothetical vision of the educational metaverse: “there could be a “plot of land” that’s dedicated to the human body in the biology universe. Another plot could be about the history of Athens, part of the history universe, and another area of land could be about how combustion engines work, as part of the engineering universe.”

Here’s what that might look like in practice.

Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality Classrooms

While digitized educational environments in the metaverse could be accessed from anywhere, both teachers and students would need the right tools to participate. For starters, schools will want to invest in virtual reality (VR) headsets, augmented reality (AR) glasses, and/or mixed reality (MR) technology. These would allow participants to engage with the senses and interact with simulated learning spaces. Going back in time, propelling through space, or observing the brain’s inner workings could all become a thoroughly engaging, sensory experience.

Avatar Teachers and Tutors

Artificial Intelligence could also be employed to encourage different human intelligences. Since these tools learn and adapt as they interact, an AI-supported metaverse could be useful in helping students with different learning styles and needs. Learners may even choose to work with an avatar to tutor them as they explore different educational universes.

Learners given free rein in the metaverse could still have teachers or avatar “tour guides” overseeing their exploration and giving them loose parameters to ensure they make it out with a few key takeaways.

Personalized Educational Metaverses

Learning through self-paced discovery isn’t a new concept. But used in this context, it could prove helpful for students who prefer to learn in their own time. Learners given free rein in the metaverse could still have teachers or avatar “tour guides” overseeing their exploration and giving them loose parameters to ensure they make it out with a few key takeaways. Otherwise, they could study and interact with what they find most interesting. Over time, students might use what they’ve learned in the metaverse to create a universe or give a presentation to other metaverse visitors in the space.

Gamified Learning Elements

Gamification is already a popular way to enhance engagement in learning spaces. Pairing it with an educational metaverse could be a powerful combination for holding students’ interests. Imagine a virtual scavenger hunt through the solar system where learners can earn points towards the purchase of a new, branded spacesuit for their avatar. The options are endless.

Schools are unlikely to escape the metaverse in the long run. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be selective about the edtech tools they use.

Thought leaders like The Brookings Institution are already warning that educational products for the metaverse must ensure that, “children experience real human social interaction as they navigate virtual spaces, children’s agency is supported as they explore these spaces, and there is a real eye to diversity in the representation and access to what is created.” These are the keys to an enhanced educational experience that’s as engaging as it is ethical.


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