Even in its infancy, the metaverse has become a buzzword that remains a bit difficult to pin down. So, what exactly is the metaverse, and why is it such a big deal?
Vriti Saraf, founder and CEO of k20 Educators, a global social learning community, explains that the metaverse is “a virtual version of everything you can do in real life. It is interoperable, owned by no one, and allows a lot of different platforms to live within it.”
What this means is that anyone, not just a handful of tech companies, can contribute to building the metaverse. Facebook and gaming platform Roblox — which has 50 million users daily — are two of the major players expanding the metaverse.
And while social media and gaming platforms may not immediately bring to mind education, Facebook has plans to invest $150 million in virtual reality learning experiences in the metaverse, while Roblox already offers ISTE-aligned lesson plans for a variety of subjects and age groups. Roblox is also providing millions of dollars in grants to help more education-focused organizations, such as Project Lead the Way, create online learning experiences on their platforms.
Schools Are Using Multiple Resources to Access the Metaverse
Although the metaverse is evolving, Camilla Gagliolo, senior director of event content at ISTE, points out that K–12 students do not have to wait for a complete build out to participate.
Educators and education-minded companies are already carving out a space in the metaverse and calling it the “eduverse.” Educators are using resources from Labster (which provides a platform for virtual labs and science simulations) and the VR platforms ENGAGE and Mozilla Hubs (which support virtual collaboration by simulating being in the same space). Teachers can also create virtual tours for students on Driftspace.
Movement and exercise are also areas with strong metaverse potential in educational settings.
In the Metaverse, Educational Resources Empower Students to Learn
Education experts believe it is inevitable that the metaverse will have a huge impact on learning. When teaching about the human body, “you can either introduce them to a textbook, where they can learn everything sequentially, or you can place their avatars inside a human body,” says k20’s Saraf. “One student can choose to go to the brain, other students can choose to go into the intestines. That choose-your-own-adventure learning experience is very empowering for most students.”
And because the learning takes place online, a metaverse platform also gives students and their avatars access to the entire world.