Welcome to the Classroom of the Future
3 Unexpected Ways the Metaverse Will Transform Math Education Within 5 Years
It’s no wonder new education technologies are often met with skepticism.
While innovations in classroom technology over the past two decades have undoubtedly advanced education, the pace and rate of success have fallen far short of the promise and potential to dramatically change learning outcomes.
Now, as the world explores how it will evolve within the new realities of the metaverse, educators and technologists alike are facing a unique set of questions and challenges about how these emerging technologies and virtual worlds impact existing learning paradigms.
Here’s what to watch for in math education over the next 5 years:
Students Will Embrace a More Powerful Role in Their Education
We see kids struggle every day to connect the dots between the realities of their physical world and the concepts central to learning and gaining math fluency. But transport these same students into a virtual world where they are empowered to be curious and employ inquiry-driven reasoning to solve real-world problems spatially and suddenly these kids are transformed.
Let’s visit the math classroom of the near future.
We see students building low-cost yurts for a village in central Asia or inventing a transportation system for a new urban center, and acquiring the math skills they need along the way. Students are in a shared (and secure) 3D virtual environment with no classroom walls or geographical limitations. Each student is equipped and empowered to learn core math concepts using spatial reasoning, movement, visualization and other ways students best retain mathematical concepts. And the context of this learning is a real-life problem, one they embody in a first-person experience, not on a page.
Their teacher is ready to coach, mentor and guide them. With access to real-time information about each student’s misconceptions and successes, the teacher can provide just-in-time feedback to drive deeper understanding. They help bridge connections to symbolic notation as students build math models in VR derived from physical experience, lead students toward new avenues when struggling, and celebrate success together.
As virtual reality takes hold in schools, students will gain confidence in their abilities to critically solve problems and make sense of the world around them, on their own terms.
The Next Model for Learning Will Unify Teachers and Students
For years, math teachers have been on the frontline of “building the case” for math class, doing metaphorical cartwheels to communicate relevance and help students experience success. They’ve been doing so with tools that not only expose students to contrived applications, but are orthogonal to how most people naturally learn best. This led to a loss of trust with generations of kids who don’t believe that math instruction has long-term value, despite the number of times we stated this undeniable fact in classrooms. And this lack of trust has not only shaped students’ experience of the discipline, but also the relationships they built with the adults who “forced” this upon them.
As more players look to stake their claim in this new world, the deciding factor for success will be the content curriculum and delivery model that build rich teacher-student and student-student relationships while scaling best practice pedagogies related to the content itself.
Positioning students as successful agents who are solving existentially important problems with their peers– using cutting edge technology and with the guidance of their teachers– unifies students and teachers under a new banner: we learn math together, to solve problems that matter, and utilize collaborative virtual spaces and spatial tools to think through complex structure and patterns. Math isn’t 2D, yet modern math notation is because we had to write it down on paper. And there will be a large swathe of students and teachers who will be invited to the party because of the added dimension.
Just like Chromebooks, VR headsets will become ubiquitous
On the continuum of technology adoption in schools, we’ve barely reached the infancy for VR. But within the next several years, VR hardware will become as accessible, affordable and ubiquitous as the Chromebook.
Integration will look a lot like the initial introduction of personal computers into schools in the 1980s. Carts are where we start. Initially, most schools will equip students and teachers with a shared bank of headsets. Within five years, VR headsets–which will become much slimmer and more powerful–will be 1:1 for students in most districts. As more hardware providers enter the market, costs will drop and we will see greater efficiencies and feature-fit for education use. VR-specific curriculum for every grade level will become the standard.
VR serves a very different, unmet need as an instructional tool for deepening learning and increasing retention. It will coexist with existing classroom tools and technologies including Chromebooks, calculators and compasses.
Virtual reality will drive the next seismic shift in education as we not only redefine our relationships with technology; we also reimagine and strengthen our relationships with each other. The classroom of the future is starting to come into focus, and for those of us educators, students and innovators who are fortunate enough to have seen a glimpse of what’s to come, we can report that there is so much to look forward to.