As schools gingerly embrace virtual reality, Meta announced Tuesday that it’s supplying VR equipment and resources to 15 U.S. universities as part of a broader goal to make classroom education more “immersive.”
Why it matters: Teachers and tech executives say VR and the metaverse could eventually be a game-changer for hands-on learning, but there are lots of kinks to work out first.
Driving the news: Meta is donating $300 Quest 2 headsets to 15 U.S. universities that use VR as a pedagogical tool.
The big picture: Meta, Apple and a host of other companies large and small are betting that VR, AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality) will become an integral part of the learning experience at all educational levels.
The equity issue: Advocates for VR in the schools say the metaverse can give disadvantaged students up-close-and-personal access to experiences that might otherwise be unavailable to them — like a visit to the Louvre or a field trip to NASA.
Of note: The body of research supporting the power of VR as a teaching tool is small but growing.
Yes, but: Many teachers are skittish about the introduction of VR — it’s expensive and difficult to manage for a large group of students, and it can be hard to make sure everyone’s engaged.
Between the lines: Meta has been struggling to make its heavy financial investment in the metaverse pay off, and it sees the education market as potentially fruitful.
Meta won’t say how much it’s giving to the 15 universities, other than that it’s “donating Quest 2 devices and [is] available for any support the universities may need.” (The Quest 2, released in 2020, is an older model; the latest is the $1,000 Quest Pro.)
Meta has set up “a $150 million fund called Meta Immersive Learning,” Clegg wrote in a separate post on Medium.
💬 Thought bubble from Axios chief technology correspondent Ina Fried: VR has struggled to find its place, but learning and training are seen as areas where there could be enough value to justify both the cost and trade-offs in terms of bulkiness and short battery life.
What’s next: As schools embrace VR, “the next ambition is personalized education,” Clegg said.