The knowledge our students need to be successful after they leave the classroom is constantly changing. Many schools are emphasizing project-based learning and STEAM in their curriculum to prepare students for the future of work and 21st-century jobs. Some families and educators are looking into the metaverse and virtual reality as a way to take kids beyond the classroom. The term “metaverse” is everywhere. So what’s all the hype about the metaverse? Why is it relevant in education?
Millions of students are logging onto the metaverse everyday. This digital world coexists alongside our own, and is challenging us to make virtual connections in new ways.
At Kai XR, we connect students with the metaverse. We are ushering kids, students, and educators into the future of education, allowing students to access a new world where virtual reality meets a digital second life, and where they can immerse themselves in previously inaccessible learning environments at the touch of a button.
In this article, we’ll explore what the metaverse is, and how it might change teaching and learning in the not-too-distant future. We’ll also give an overview of some tools and resources that you can use to start exploring the metaverse today.
What Is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a network of extended reality experiences that blur the lines between the physical and digital. It’s a network where people can access digital, 3-D content. It’s not an app, website, or offering by a single company. There are a few factors that define the metaverse, including:
- The metaverse is made up of many different, connected virtual worlds
- The metaverse is built by many different groups
- The metaverse will enable people to connect with each other in new ways
- The metaverse can be accessed with many different kinds of technology
In the coming years, the metaverse may become a technology that we depend on as much as smartphones or the internet. Right now, its meaning is still fluid, as we are in the earliest stages of its creation, and the evolution of the metaverse is still growing. That means the answer to ‘What’s metaverse?’ is changing as this creation grows.
Many companies already see its value. Take Facebook, who re-branded as Meta last year, and who hope to usher in widespread adoption in the coming year. They envision the metaverse as a central piece of classrooms in the future. The company is investing $150 million to develop educational programs centered around virtual and augmented reality. Meta is also partnering with edX and Coursera to create curricula that focus on the use of these types of extended reality technology.
Meta isn’t the only group in tech with eyes on extended reality. In the wake of Meta’s shift towards developing the metaverse, Microsoft purchased the gaming company Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. Activision Blizzard is behind the creation of massive titles like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. Now, Microsoft is rethinking these as “metaverse platforms” instead of simply “games”. The company has also hinted at plans to make their platforms accessible from any device, a hallmark of the metaverse.
And here are Kai XR, we believe the metaverse will change how young people learn. Educators and librarians are already setting up VR classrooms, and kids are visiting and exploring the solar system and national monuments through our virtual field trips.
Teens are now on Roblox, a digital environment with nearly 50 million daily active users. Users can do all these activities from their computer:
- Attend fashion shows and concerts (Lil Nas X hosted one recently!)
- Join holiday celebrations
- Participate in talent competitions
- Learn from educational seminars
- Create art
- Visit new worlds
- Hang out with virtual friends
The metaverse is built around the idea of interconnectedness, and when it becomes mainstream, a typical day could include:
- Attending a meeting in virtual reality, with each person represented by an avatar they control
- Shopping online for real-world items by trying on clothes with your avatar
- Participating in a training seminar that allows you to manipulate virtual representations of new tools and devices
- Going to a concert with friends in virtual reality, where everyone in the audience gets the same front-row view
- Meeting with friends’ avatars in virtual reality to talk about the concert afterwards
In just a few years, the metaverse may become as intertwined into our daily lives as the internet is today.
The Technology Building the Metaverse
The metaverse may sound distant, but the technology bringing it to life already exists. With widespread access to these kinds of devices constantly growing, tech companies and developers alike are eager to create this new ecosystem.
The metaverse incorporates many technologies including:
- Virtual reality
- Augmented reality
- 3D modeling
Both virtual reality and augmented reality represent two of the many evolving technologies being used to create this new world and reality. They are pushing the boundaries of traditional learning farther than we’ve ever seen before.
These two technologies are similar, but have some important differences.
Virtual reality, or VR, refers to a fully computer-based recreation or simulation, typically viewed through a headset or other device that projects an image directly in front of the user’s eyes and blocks their view of the physical world. It projects a 360° digital environment around them. When you move in real life, you also move in the simulation, too.
VR can transform a classroom into a robotics lab, the International Space Station, or a rainforest teeming with life. These multisensory experiences can feel real and immersive. How cool is that?
Augmented reality, or AR, is a cross between VR and physical reality. In AR, digital images are imposed over the real world. These images are often interactive.
A student using AR could look at their desk and see a digital electron microscope, or a science experiment ready for them to explore. While they interact with these virtual tools, they would still see their classroom and peers around them. If you’ve played Pokemon Go or heard of the game, then you know what augment reality is.
While VR immerses the user in a simulation that can feel realistic, AR blurs the lines between where reality ends and the virtual begins. Both of these tools are central parts of the metaverse, because they enable us to connect with virtual environments.
Educators have been finding ways to incorporate transformative tech into classroom instruction. The metaverse offers great opportunities to enhance young people’s brain development and learning experience across various educational styles and needs.
The Metaverse Classroom
Part of the metaverse’s educational power lies in its ability to adapt to student learning needs. For example, it could make differentiating content a smoother process than ever before.
Preparing content that accommodates all the different ability levels in a classroom is currently a painstaking, time-consuming process. Interactive AR and VR tools will will allow teachers to easily adjust a lesson to match the flow of their students’ mastery. At Kai XR, you can tailor lessons to specific learning styles, including helping students who learn more visually and kinetically. Our growing collection of viewing guides— included with VR field trips—can also help educators engage kids who may learn better through listening, reading, and writing.
The metaverse will also enable teachers to support second-language learners in entirely new ways. For example, each learner could experience a print-rich AR classroom with reference materials in both their home and target language. This type of immersion could make language acquisition much easier.
So, what will learning and teaching in the metaverse look like?
We know that one-size-fits-all solutions rarely work for schools and teachers. The metaverse is as diverse and intricate as a real-world classroom — and that means it will have the flexibility to support every student with hands-on learning opportunities.
This is what 21st-century education looks like:
- A student learning to calculate the area of a circle could resize virtual images in augmented reality, observing how the area changes in relation to the radius. Young students learning to count, add, and subtract will be able to use AR math manipulatives that change as they say each number aloud.
- In science classrooms, students learning about cells will be able to investigate their organelles in VR. An AR chemistry lab would enable students to conduct endless experiments. Physics students can apply their learning by engineering machines in a VR workshop.
- In a literature classroom, students may hold a talk with an author that lives across the world. During this conversation, they could seamlessly step into the setting of the book, or even watch pivotal scenes play out in virtual reality.
Every subject and age group of students could benefit from the metaverse and VR classroom through uses like:
- Gaining hands-on job training and career exposure
- Having endless attempts at art projects without worrying about using materials
- Observing key moments in history to understand how they impacted the world
- Participating in the engineering and design process without limitations on size or supplies
- Visiting monuments and historical sites during Black History Month
- Learning real-world skills like driving in safe, controlled environments
The metaverse is growing rapidly. It’s up to parents and teachers to ensure that students are responsibly exploring this digital space.
At Kai XR, we’re helping kids of all ages safely take their first steps into the metaverse. Our virtual reality field trips are completely ad-free, and explore carefully curated topics. One of our top priorities is safety.
Many metaverse platforms are engineered for use on VR headsets. However, there isn’t enough conclusive research to say if these devices are safe for young children yet. That’s why we designed our platform with young learners in mind. Kai XR was founded by an educator, and we continue to be committed to connecting classrooms to content that is the best of the best.
Our metaverse field trips use 360° technology to turn handheld devices like tablets and smartphones into virtual reality experiences. This allows young students to safely enjoy the learning benefits that extended reality can offer.
The use of our virtual field trips is already helping students grow and thrive. Here’s what they’re learning:
- Critical thinking: Students are analyzing the environment around them and making timely and holistic decisions to move to the next stage of a game or a virtual field trip.
- Creativity: Kids are reimagining the use of space, coming up with new ideas as they get exposed to artists, monuments, historical sites, that they will unlikely experience at a young age.
- Cross-collaboration and teamwork: The metaverse is designed to connect people, places, and ideas. Students can collaborate and meet their heroes, new people, and work together to solve problems
- Social-emotional learning: As students face real-world scenarios or important moments in the past, they get to put themselves in the shoes of people, and comprehend their own emotions. They develop empathy at a young age, which is key to developing relationships in life and career.
Apps and Games to Bring Students Into the Metaverse
The metaverse is growing rapidly, with over 100 tech companies focusing on its development. Early adopters of this next-generation technology can experience the metaverse for themselves through platforms including Meta, Roblox and of course, Kai XR!
In 2021, Meta cemented the company’s shift towards developing AR and VR content. This marks another milestone in a journey that had already been underway for at least seven years, since the company bought Oculus in 2014.
Oculus, now Meta Quest, was one of the first metaverse companies to produce VR headsets for consumers. Their flagship products like the Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest helped introduce the world to virtual reality, and established the value of creating content for this new format.
Now, Meta is poised to focus on the metaverse in earnest. In late 2021, they announced plans to create as many as 10,000 new high-skilled jobs in the European Union alone to focus on developing the metaverse. This content will likely utilize the VR and AR technology that Oculus headsets are built around, but also be accessible from devices like smartphones and tablets.
The Metaverse with Roblox
Roblox is one of the most popular brands investing in the metaverse. They went public last year, and are still growing. Though often thought of as simply a game, Roblox is actually a complex metaversal ecosystem.
Worlds, games, and events in Roblox aren’t controlled and created by the company Roblox itself. Rather, users create and maintain these experiences. These worlds continue to grow and change even after a player logs out.
Roblox is already being used by teachers and students across the world. It can help students learn how to code and think programmatically. It also has an advanced physics engine that can allow students to explore forces and motion, and even build simple machines.
Enter the Metaverse with Kai XR
At Kai XR, our mission is to break down educational barriers, making the metaverse accessible to every student. That’s why we’re designing VR and AR virtual field trips for kids of all ages.
Since you can use any device to access our trips, you can explore history from the comfort of your room and from any classroom!
We offer over 100 VR field trips, including:
- Chichen Itza
- Explore an Asteroid
- Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night
Explore Chichen Itza in the Metaverse
Journey to the Yucatan Peninsula without leaving the classroom with Kai XR’s Chichen Itza virtual field trip. This immersive VR learning experience will take your students to Chichen Itza, which was once the most populous city in the region.
During this field trip, students can examine the buildings of Chichen Itza while learning about its historical significance, construction, and even its connection to astronomy and math.
A VR field trip to Chichen Itza would complement a study of classical civilizations, such as the Mayans, or even provide a fascinating real-world connection for students learning Spanish. This field trip uses the metaverse to make this incredible Mayan city come to life.
Explore an Asteroid in the Metaverse
Kai XR’s Explore an Asteroid virtual field trip shows students the Earth and space in a thrilling new way. Students can witness an asteroid impacting the Earth’s surface from up close, while learning how gravity makes events like this happen.
This field trip would enhance student learning about space, forces of gravity, or even geological processes that shape the planet’s surface. Watching the power of gravity in action through the metaverse can help students deepen their understanding of this natural force.
Explore Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night in the Metaverse
Few works of art are as immediately recognizable as Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Kids can visualize this painting as if they were right next to it. The nighttime cityscape is reimagined in 3D, while impressionistic lines swirl through the sky overhead.
This VR field trip challenges students to see this piece of artwork from a completely new perspective. Art and history students of all ages will be transfixed by the way the metaverse immerses them in this famous painting.
The Metaverse: Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century
The metaverse has boundless potential to reinvent work, school, and the classroom as we know it.
At Kai XR, we’re helping kids explore this new world in safe, educational, and engaging ways. Eager to get started teaching and learning with the metaverse? Sign up for Kai XR to travel across time with your students through our virtual field trips.
Featured Image: Eren Li