The Metaverse in Education — How ’bout No?

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In response to: What Should Higher Ed in the Metaverse Look like? – from by Joe Schaefer

“The Metaverse is coming whether we like it or not…”

Spoken like a vendor with a vested interest in the Metaverse coming. In truth, any school or institution that embraces the Metaverse will have to contend with the significant cost of equipment, content, and developer talent that will be required to offer rich AR/VR/XR experiences. They’ll have to balance vendors’ desire for “lock-in” and large profit margins against learners’ and schools’ need for affordable learning solutions, local choice, and technical interoperability. They’ll have to ensure that there’s good pedagogy at the heart of any learning experience so it’s not all eye-candy and whiz-bang tech excitement, but rather an authentic thinking task presented in as authentic of a virtual setting as possible. Very much like gamification in ed, solutions often tend to be expensive, underwhelming, and of questionable instructional value.

Remember the last tech bauble that bewitched the minds of tech purchasing institutions – the iPad? 12 years and millions of dollars later, the research shows that it’s had no positive impact on student learning. Bummer, right?

Are you ready do that all again with a proprietary walled garden in cyberspace?

The Metaverse is coming… that indeed is true. Don’t forget though, that the people pushing it to us, Meta, are the same people who single-handedly have destabilized reality as we know it. The people who have weakened democracy, obliterated humans’ mental and physical health, understanding of science, and broken the bonds of human kindness at a global scale — now want to lure us deeper into their immersive funhouse of mirrors.

Part of being an educator is taking a learner-centric approach to your craft. I always make instructional decisions by asking “what will enhance my students’ well-being and help them achieve their learning goals?” I suspect it will be a very long time before the answer to that question is “The Metaverse”.

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Ted Curran is a Learning Experience Designer/Developer for Autodesk. He is committed to empowering educators and learners to create transformational change through effective pedagogy and technology integration. You can follow Ted on Mastodon, LinkedIn or learn more at my 'About" page. These thoughts are my own.

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1 Response

  1. May 22, 2022

    (Looking Back and Looking Forward takes a look at the articles and posts I found interesting from the previous week, along with reflections about how the trends they point to might shape my thinking about education and technology.)These are indeed “interesting” financial times (interesting, as in the curse, “May you live in interesting times”).Stocks are down. Newer alternative investment options like cryptocurrency are down. NFTs may be moving permanently into the rearview mirror. There’s increasing talk of a recession. Oh, and there’s still a whole host of “unknowns” related to the persisting pandemic.Investors are admitting that it’s not business as usual. Companies are preparing for an economic downturn. On the tech side of things, layoffs are trending. It should probably come as no surprise, then, that publicly-traded edtech companies are struggling.Phil Hill posted this informative chart last week, showing just how turbulent the financial waters have been on the edtech side.I think Phil is right in saying that we should expect more acquisitions as bigger companies and PE groups with money swoop in to take advantage of depressed company valuation is the space. I also like Michael Feldstein’s take that the current disruption may force a much-needed focus on “quality.” The challenge, of course, is that education and edtech have always been somewhat messy and complex.Quality EdTech companies show a deep understanding of how their customers work and the obstacles preventing them from achieving positive change at an inflection point for their sector. And this quality of thinking isn’t necessarily going to come through in a pitch deck because it requires a conversation about the context that the investors often don’t have. In the “interesting trends in higher education” department, it’s worth noting that full-time enrollment in online MBA programs has surpassed that of in-person programs. We’re also seeing a continued decline in net tuition revenue from first-year students and private colleges.The story in K-12 this past week was about grade inflation. ACT released a study detailing the rise of student GPAs since 2016 and showing that things got even worse during the pandemic. While some see this as a big problem, others question whether rising grades necessarily point to something negative.Something else that caught my eye last week was the discussion about millennials not finding good jobs until they were in their 30s. According to two recent reports from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce:Most of the oldest millennials didn’t settle into good jobs until their early 30s, the reports found. In contrast, older members of the baby boomer generation mostly found good jobs by their mid-20s.As they aged, the share of millennials with good jobs started to outpace that of boomers when they were the same age, according to the reports. But the longer transition period can still mean consequences for the younger generation, like not being able to pay off student loans, buy a house or chase new dreams.The fact that young adults are taking longer to gain financial independence has consequences for the way they live their lives and how many will make decisions about the value of a college degree. One thing making things easier for young adults is the increasing number of companies offering education as a benefit. Count Lowes as one of those companies, now offering 300,000 full-time and part-time employees a chance to pursue college degrees, certificates and high school diplomas for free through its Lowe’s Guild Learning Marketplace. Also interesting is Walmart’s new careers program pilot aimed at giving degree holders experience running Walmart stores. Through this College2Career program, recent graduates can take fast-track route to management and have a chance to earn up to $210,000 within two years of joining the company. Finally, I really liked Noah Smith’s exploration of the type of asset Bitcoin really represents. He suggests four theories.Theory 1: Bitcoin as the future of moneyTheory 2: Bitcoin as a worthless fadTheory 3: Bitcoin as “digital gold”Theory 4: Bitcoin as a tech stockIn case you were thinking of Bitcoin as the future of money, you might want to check out recent comments from Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the digital asset exchange FTX. He said that the proof of work system of validating blockchain transactions, which underpins bitcoin, was not capable of scaling up to cope with the millions of transactions that would be needed to make the cryptocurrency an effective means of payment. “The bitcoin network is not a payments network and it is not a scaling network,” he said.Further ReadingHigher EducationPrivate colleges’ net tuition revenue from first-year students declined in 2021-22, study findsSurvey: Students want connections with professors but may not initiate themFull-time online M.B.A. enrollment surpasses in-person programsA strategic reset: micro-credentials for higher education leadersLessons Learned From Launching a Micro-Credential ProgramK-12 EducationThe Education Exchange: “Extremely Large” Learning Losses for Students Whose Schools Went Remote for Many MonthsACT Says Grade Inflation Is a Serious Problem. It’s Probably Not.PROOF POINTS: New evidence of high school grade inflationEducation, Educational Technology, and Learning DesignA Flight to Quality in EdTech Venture Capital?The Market Fall of EdTech Will Have Non-Financial ImpactsIt’s Been A ‘Brutal’ Year for Public Education CompaniesThe Next Generation of MOOCs The Metaverse in Education — How ’bout No?About the Class Technologies Acquisition of Blackboard CollaborateHow Blockchain Can Encourage LearningThe corridor of uncertainty: AI-generated essays – time to rethink written assignmentsIncorporating AI and learning analytics to build trustworthy peer assessment systemsFraming and Designing the HOWSo you want to create an online class independent of a schoolUpdate on Choosing an LMS @BryanAlexanderAssessment in the age of artificial intelligenceHow to Ensure Learning and Employment Records are Designed With and For LearnersWorkforceUnlike boomers, millennials didn’t find good jobs until their 30s. Here’s what it means for colleges and employersYoung adults today are slower to gain financial independenceDigital Promise Launches New Learning Community of End Users of Learning and Employment RecordsLowe’s joins in on debt-free college trendWalmart Fast-Tracking College Graduates Into Managers Earning $210,000How to Ensure Learning and Employment Records are Designed With and For LearnersTechnology and CultureDon’t expect large language models like the next GPT to be democratizedIt’s not business as usual (and investors are admitting it)Recession 2022: Companies Prepare for a Possible Economic DownturnThe same phone for 25 years? iFixit on right to repair’s remaining obstacles, hopeFacebook News payments at risk? Journalism’s $1bn questionTech company layoffs tracker shows cuts across the boardBlockchain Technology is Revolutionizing the Real Estate IndustryWhy Build in Web3How to Move Your Crypto Off Coinbase to a USB-Like Hardware WalletCrash of the crypto titansBinance’s LUNA investment, which peaked at $1.6 billion, now worth just $3,000Collapse of Luna cryptocurrency leads to $11 million exploit on Venus ProtocolBitcoin Has No Future as a Payments Network, Says FTX Chief16 May 2022. Fashion | Bitcoin – by Andrew Curry


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