Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are buzzwords that every educator wants to know more about. They are two distinct functions. Kathy Schrock, columnist for Discovery Education explains:
Augmented reality layers computer-generated enhancements on top of an existing reality to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it.
Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of real life… It immerses users by making them feel they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand.
The differences are actually pretty simple. Virtual means experiencing a world that doesn’t exist. Augmented means adding something virtual to the physical world.
The AR that most people are familiar with is Pokemon Go. This app was wildly popular because of the seamless integration of real and fantasy. Moving this sort of AR to education gamifies learning in ways that challenge creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving.
One tool that stands out in the creation and use of AR for Education is Metaverse.
What is Metaverse?
Metaverse has become one of the most popular AR apps in schools. It is a forever-free platform with no in-app purchases, no premium offerings, and no limits on what you can use on a zero budget. It blends a website for the creation of AR experiences with an app for their display, nimbly allowing users to create, share, and interact with their AR ‘experiences’ (or projects). It’s easy to use and requires no coding. Users can access a wide variety of AR games, lesson plans, and other experiences created by others and shared in the Metaverse ecosystem via the free app (reminder: Always preview these to be sure they fit your student group). For those looking for greater personalization, they can create their own on the website.
Users create an experience using a scene builder where they make choices based on a decision tree method, something like the familiar programming ‘if-this-then-that’ process but simpler. Start by adding scenes to a storyboard and then connect them to achieve the goals. Each scene can include clues, questions, directions, links, videos, polls, and more. Once completed, it can be shared through the app, with a link, by posting to some social media, or by uploading to a class LMS (learning management system). Experiences can range from something as simple as walking through a historic event to solving math problems. The learning curve is moderate but well within the reach of teachers and older students. Why moderate rather than easy? Because of Metaverse’s power, robustness, and versatility.
While creating experiences is best for 13+, using the app is recommended for grades 4-12.
This video well describes what Metaverse is (a little long–seven minutes):
How to get started
Doing augmented reality sounds complicated but not in Metaverse. First, you’ll need both the free app and a free account on the website. The app, available for Android and iOS, lets you find and play augmented reality games including a large selection of educational games. The website allows you to create the AR experience.
Here’s how you start:
- Log in using your Facebook account or your email address.
- Download the app to your phone, tablet, or Chromebook. You don’t use it to create the experience, just to enjoy it.
- Enter your Metaverse Studio and click ‘Create experience’. Projects are called ‘experiences’ and the workspace is called a storyboard.
- Follow prompts to design the experience using Metaverse’s large collection of free images (3D and 2D). Your experience can include 360˚ images, videos, polls, device cameras, sounds, questions, text, point systems, and more.
- Once the experience is completed, publish to Facebook, Twitter, an LMS, or share the link. You also get a QR code to activate it.
- You can choose to allow cloning or sharing with the public in the Metaverse Universe.
- There is an advanced option for embedding the experience in your own apps using an API code.
- Once the Experience is published, anyone with the Metaverse app can view your experience. The easiest way is to scan the QR code which will activate the experience on the Metaverse app.
If you need help as you create, there’s a bubble in the lower left corner which will connect you to Luis. To my surprise, Luis is a real person, always on the website, ready to answer questions. If you’re the type who loves watching directions, Metaverse offers sixteen tutorial videos for beginners.
The top four education uses for Metaverse are Breakouts (here’s a spreadsheet with a long list of Metaverse Breakouts by topic), Scavenger hunts, timed quizzes, and Choose your own adventure stories. A few other popular uses are interactive stories, AR field trips, student-led learning, and programming (like the popular Hour of Code).
If you’re looking for a high school project for Hour of Code, look at what this high schooler did on his own, to help fellow students. Simply amazing:
Here are screenshots from Metaverse:
Kids will feel like Harry Potter but they’re actually part of the next revolution in learning: AR, powered by Metaverse. If you’re looking for a show-stopper for Hour of Code, you’ve just found it.
–This is a sponsored post but the opinions are my own. Know that I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend.
More on Metaverse
How to create a scavenger hunt–a <2 minute video
Marty Cryer’s Nouns and Verbs game (in Metaverse)
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today and TeachHUB, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.