Class vs Metaverse Pedagogy

Teachers pay a lot of attention to their point of view and interests. Most usually know exactly how to teach their subject, what they like and what they don’t. Kicking new ideas to a teacher is harder than creating a teacher it seems. Many are paying no more interest to educational technology than their students pay to the notes being written on the bored.

People cant’ be forced to pay attention — especially to chalk and talk classrooms (powerpoint is still chalk and talk), let alone hope that they remember it.

Many students want to know what the information is for – is what you are telling me going to affect my grade. If it is not in the test – then I’m not learning it — I’d rather update my FaceBook status or do something I like. If you won’t let me do that, then guess what – I’ve not paying attention.

Without doubt there are some highly inspirational, smart and charismatic people talking about technology in the classroom. I see continuous dialogue in social-streams though the metaverse. I am interested and part of my brain is wired to the metaverse. Creating ‘school networks’ or barring students from the metavers is purely a risk/security policy for most administrators. They see the metaverse and life as mutually exclusive. Our curriculum doesn’t have outcomes for the metaverse – just the HSC, so presents a clear and present danger.

In the novel Snow Crash, Hiro, the lead character is a Hacker. He describes himself as the ‘greatest sword fighter in all the world’. His metaverse avatar is controlled by the auctions of his physical body. So he does fight, in the metaverse. He dispatches avatars – but standing a parking lot, wielding a sword on his own – against a virtual enemy – is no longer the stuff of cyberpunk novels.

Reputation and existence in the metaverse is as normal as McDonalds burgers to most kids today in our society. We have to accept that students use the metaverse as a Third Space — and that changes their interests and attention massively.

Avatar Movie introduced millions of adults to something billions of kids already kn0w. A part of life IS  now played out in the duel-reality of today’s metaverse. In this reality reputation and authority is not assigned though current notions of qualifications and patriarchal status. You can be unknown at work — and a god in the metaverse (literally).

3G provided cheap, convenient and fast access to social networks as well as content. I’d rather my kid pings a friend in Montana about Maths than Google’s the question quite frankly. So why is it taboo?

Mobile phones and personal access represents a far higher threat to students (sexting, bullying, content, games, networks) than any school network could. We can’t simply make a policy that says ‘we banned them and told you, so if you get into meta-grief we can’t be held accountable. It is also about authority. My kids are 2/3 years off a mobile phone. But when they get one – it will be on the internet all the time, and I doubt they’ll be texting at 25c a throw either.

Having your own private world is rather exclusive. In the industrialist mind – it undermines much of the social structure that schools and exams teach – how to comply, succeed and submit to the interests and views of those with more power – your employer. You are paid to work, not surf the internet. How many thousands of hours went into banning websites from employees? I worked in a place where only nominated people had web-access – and then when you needed something – you had to go to them for it, and they watched you. Sounds stupid? Not really — this is how classrooms work in the bubble.

Game designers (people who present more content to students that anyone else) believe experience is the best teacher. Thinking like a game designer, not a teacher means thinking about ‘motivation’ centred learning – not student centred learning. Most teachers fear nothing more than student-social-networks in ‘lessons’. Going online will mean they are not paying attention to the teaching.

I’m not claiming Messenger and Facebook are not distracting — but if you’re not putting anything more compelling in front of them, that is not their fault, any more than it is there fault they live in a world that is intersected by technology — and the metaverse. Step one of changing anything is accept that there are other alternatives to the current view and interests. Managers are no change-agents – so don’t blame the local administration – the people who MUST change are the politicos – who right now are spending money, but yet to come to terms with the metaverse itself. We’d better not let them read Snow Crash then.


3 thoughts on “Class vs Metaverse Pedagogy

  1. Pingback: The Answer Sheet

  2. Dean, this post has a lot of statements that ring true to me. However what I take most from it is the statement about consequences when teachers fail to gain the attention and motivation of their students. This is a key ingredient to effective teaching that has become increasingly difficult to achieve considering the variety of interests present and available for people these days. Teachers are often restricted in what they can do from a range of influences yet at the core of our business and interaction and learning with students. A pity that guidelines and policy typically restrict rather than enable, resulting in us needing to work harder. But thank god for the motivation and good nature of teachers who despite the restrictions, policies and guidelines continue to chase methods of engaging students in learning.

  3. Dean, as I read your post it’s like you are writing from my own view. I too agree with Shane the point that stands out for me is the consequences when teachers fail to gain the attention and motivation of their students. It always surprises me when teachers have their units of study and they begin teaching it to the students with no consultation with them about their prior knowledge or ideas on how to approach the tasks at hand. I teach in a primary school (currently based as a NCT library teacher), and my most recent classroom experiences are with Prep and Year 4 students. Both of these year levels I always start units of work with “This is what we need to study this term/week. Here’s the assessment task, and the criteria you will be assessed on. Let’s have a look at it in detail. What do you already know? Can you tell/demonstrate to me? What would you like to know more about? What tools would you like to use to find out this information?….” I suppose as a teacher I am more like a student. I can’t stand doing something that is not relevant to my life or is not appear to be an attractive/engaging experience to be involved in. My philosophy is if I wouldn’t engage, I’ve got no hope in getting the kids to. I also agree that the strict boundaries in which us as educators/students have to work within in our educational settings won’t change until the politicians themselves change.

    My current principal made a statement recently which I think is the most thought provoking I’ve heard for a while. “Education won’t change or really embrace innovation, regardless of the efforts of the educators themselves, until the politicians and political parties no longer manage education departments. Until they are managed by independent bodies, the education systems will be at the mercy of the political party in power, and will continue to be a pawn in their quest of winning the game.”

    I think this sums it all up to be honest. We can keep fighting the good fight, and work hard at engaging our students within the limitations in which we are presented. But total change won’t come until the politicians no longer have a say in the running of our schools.

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