Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2017

Metaverse

Ambitious augmented-reality tool engages users, promotes coding skills

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
N/A
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
4-12
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Pros: AR experiences engage users and gamify learning; ability to create experiences promotes creativity and critical thinking.

Cons: Creation takes time and is complicated for the average user; could use more in-app support features and character effects.

Bottom Line: This dynamic tool allows users to create and experience augmented-reality activities while learning 21st-century skills.

The time it takes to design effective augmented-reality (AR) learning activities may cause teachers to hesitate, but Metaverse makes the process more accessible with its scene-centered platform. Create digital scavenger hunts by adding location blocks or item collection commands to the experiences. Promote gamification and movement by designing digital "breakouts" for teams of students, or let students collaborate to create their own. Challenge students to work in teams to solve a riddle or puzzle, or bring the magic of virtual reality to the classroom by incorporating a 360° video scene. Empower students to create “choose your own adventure” style stories or presentations to share with the Metaverse community, or create a professional development that will have teachers thinking like kids again!

Allowing students to take control of their learning can be difficult for teachers, but Metaverse is the kind of tool teachers can learn to use alongside their students. Short on time? Select from the ever growing collection of user-created experiences. If you do this, be prepared to dig for gems as not all experiences are worthwhile. A word of caution: content may not be suitable for all ages, so preview community content before sharing with students. Also, while there are many experiences for students around the age of nine and up, Metaverse Studio requires an email login and is intended for users aged 13 or older.

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Metaverse is a platform (website and app) for creating, sharing, and interacting with augmented-reality (AR) "experiences." Metaverse Studio, recommended for older users (13+), is where creation occurs. New experiences begin with a blank storyboard that allows for nearly unlimited combinations of scenes, characters, commands, and navigation options. Scenes can contain clues, directions, questions, web links, videos, and more. Users connect scenes to create a partial or complete experience that adjusts to viewers’ responses. Once a user creates an experience, it can be duplicated and edited to create another, so users don't have to start from scratch to create additional experiences.

Using the Metaverse app, students can then participate in teacher or other user-created experiences via a link, QR code, or social media platform. The experiences vary from simple, such as reviewing parts of speech, to complex, such as coding using JavaScript. The number of experiences is currently limited but will grows as new users add content.

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Metaverse Studio is designed with the 21st-century learner in mind, promoting skills such as creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, analysis, coding, and iterative testing. By design, this tool promotes a trial-and-error user experience, and each scene must be carefully planned and connected in order for it to work in the app. While a coding background or even basic knowledge would be an advantage, it's not required to get started. That said, coding functions such as arrays, strings, and environmental properties may confound users and may discourage time-stretched or tech-reluctant teachers from creating much beyond basic Q&A activities. For this reason, it may be helpful to watch one or more of the online tutorials.

Without a ton of step-by-step support, users may struggle with the process of creating content, but many students, especially gamers, might be comfortable with this sort of “figure it out” process similar to games like Minecraft. Also, there's no way to go backwards in an experience unless the creator builds it in, so students may accidentally close experiences and have to start over from the beginning. Additional features such as sound effects and a way to rate user-designed creations would be great additions to this ambitious tool. Although Metaverse can be frustrating to use at first, the reward of creating or enabling others to create exciting and engaging learning experiences is well worth it.

 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Through carefully planned activities, users can collaborate to solve problems, find items on scavenger hunts, review content, and create unique experiences to share with the community. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

With unlimited possibilities for creating experiences and new features being added continuously, teachers willing to spend the time can design or empower students to create activities that teach a variety of skills.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Wading through the ever-growing collection of activities can be overwhelming, but there are some gems. Website and community forums are helpful, but most average users will need online video tutorials.


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

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