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The Ready Player One Test

Image generated by DeepAI

The Metaverse Is Here? Really?

Interest in the metaverse spiked and waned during 2022. A Google trends chart shows a decrease in interest starting in the spring of 2022 after a peak at the start of the year. Much of that interest was driven by Facebook’s announcement of its name change to Meta in the fall of 2021. 

If we zoom out we can see that the overall interest in the metaverse is up from June 2021, regardless of the hype bump from Meta.

Metaverse and Education

Discussion about the metaverse in education remains strong. Articles are regularly published by reputable online education websites like Getting Smart, Education Next, and EdSurge. Also, the annual conference for ISTE, a leading international organization to help educators use technology, had a variety of sessions on the metaverse as well as AI, and VR/AR. Additionally, reports have been released by both the Brookings Institute and Meridian Treehouse about the metaverse and education. One report specifically covered how gen Z is positioned to experience and shape the future of the metaverse.

Educators in K-12 and higher education are continuing to explore the implementation of this technology. Universities such as the Wharton School of Business are offering certification in metaverse studies. Schools are exploring how to incorporate the metaverse into their instruction. Morehouse University has already begun to move its learning onto metaverse platforms.

A Brief Background on Ed3

The first bricks of this technological revolution were laid in a 2015 Wired magazine article with the introduction of Education 3.0. Author Dr. Jedd Borden proposed that we “learn how to embrace technology as the ultimate empowering agent, not as a competitor or loss-of-control agent.” He doesn’t use the word “metaverse”, but he does propose that we “jump the curve” and that we need to “look ahead and not backward as we figure out how to make education something meaningful — special for our students.” 

The Learning Economy Foundation also referred to the “jumping off the curve” as the “internet of education.” In addition, the mission of professional agencies such as Ed3.gg is “developing the future of education with web3.” There is also an NFT project released by the Ed3 DAO* that describes itself as the “FIRST NFT collection made by educators, for educators, powering a community of educators.”

While no formal definition of ed3 exists, Ed3.gg founder Scott David Meyer describes it as “tech-enabled personalized learning.” In the “education 3.0” model technology will be a personalized agent of empowerment. As a fully immersive multi-dimensional digital space, the metaverse will play an important role for these learners.

*In honor of full transparency I am currently the community growth lead for the Ed3 DAO discord community.

The Ready Player One Test

In his book Failure to Disrupt MIT educator and researcher Justin Reich says that we need to be “oriented toward innovative pedagogy and a commitment to educational equity.” He adds that in order to align ourselves with these things–innovative pedagogy and educational equity, we need some guidelines. This is what inspired me to create this list of guidelines. These are intended to be used as a framework for educators as we introduce fully immersive digital environments into our modes of delivering learning experiences.

The title of this “test” is the “Ready Player One” test. This was chosen to remind us of the dystopian future that is possible if we do not correctly navigate these next 20 years. Technology solutions can be a tempting easy fix for all our systemic woes. If we don’t use foresight to build this future safely and intentionally we are at risk of causing more harm than good.

This is an opportunity to pause and consider how to effectively implement this technology in our classrooms. The parts of the Ready Player One Test are listed below, with proceeding sections that will expand on each item in more detail.

  1. Does it allow learners to immerse themselves in environments that would be too expensive or dangerous to experience otherwise?
  2. Can the learning be personalized by the student?
  3. Is it regenerative?
  4. Does it allow for learning to happen non-linearly, at any time and any place?

Does it allow learners to immerse themselves in environments that would be too expensive or dangerous to experience otherwise?

The policy brief by the Brookings Institute starts with a potential vision of our future classrooms. It describes a scene with students moving from real-life storytelling of Greek myths to a three-dimensional timeline projected onto the floor. Students enter an immersive metaverse in which they are placed in the center of a busy marketplace from 2500 years ago.

Research is emerging supporting the idea that students learn better when placed in immersive environments. Dynamic direct instruction coupled with immersive experiences and well-crafted student-led projects helps students engage with content at a deeper level.

But how exactly is this possible? How can a student in Gary, Indiana, or Bangalore, India, immerse themselves in an ancient market of Greece, or the far-away streets of Baghdad?

What about enabling students to experience the horrors of a live battle in World War 2 or contemporary conflicts in Ukraine, or feeling the fear and confusion of a raid by Ghengis Khan’s army?

This can all be made possible through an immersive metaverse. A closer look at the definition of “immersive” uncovers more possibilities. Let’s look at the Mirriam-Webster definition for some guidance.

Definition of immersive

: providing, involving, or characterized by deep absorption or immersion in something (such as an activity or a real or artificial environment)

The key word here is “deep.” Platforms like Gathertown and Zep are a great transition between web2 platforms like Zoom, but does it qualify as “deep absorption”? To truly experience learning that allows us to transcend space and time we need to go further.

In Dr. Mark van Rijmenam’s article 6 Characteristics of an Open Metaverse, he states, “mimicking the real world in the virtual world does not make sense. In the metaverse, there is infinite space. Users can quickly teleport from one experience to another.” This concept helps us move from three-dimensional to four-dimensional spaces. 

Focusing on one of Dr. van Rijmenam’s six characteristics, spatiality, presents a clearer picture of full immersion. “A metaverse that is not spatial is a metaverse with limited opportunities. Any virtual world, space, or experience should incorporate spatial anchors to make objects inside those virtual or augmented experiences persistent so people can find them and provide an experience that is more akin to the real world, which can be further reinforced using spatial audio.”

Audio, haptics, and the ability to smell and touch will all become possible as this technology evolves. This will allow the user to experience the deep absorption that immersion is all about.

The possibilities with teaching and learning here will be 10x or even 100x with this technology. Imagine a fully immersive cooking class in which you can compare spices from around the world. Using touch to compare fabrics as you learn about fashion design or interior architecture. There are numerous examples that could be generated when we see the metaverse as a fully immersive experience rather than “mimicking the real world.”

Students could descend into the crater of Halemauʻumaʻu on Hawaiʻi Island to learn about the creative power of Pele through a geologic or cultural lens. A science curriculum could be augmented with an examination of butterfly wings under a microscope and then complemented with an immersive experience of becoming a butterfly and flying over a field of wildflowers. A mathematics lesson on completing the square could have students settling a land swap in ancient Babylonia.

All of these immersive experiences when combined with effective lesson design provide learning that is deep and effective. They can all be enabled by AR/VR/XR, the metaverse, and haptic technologies.

Can the learning be personalized by the student?

The single narrative education system is no longer working. As a system it does not honor young people as the dynamic individuals that they are. New models of teaching and learning need to be designed to center on the student, not the teacher.

In Dr. Benjamin Freud’s article, The Metaverse will make schools places of becoming, Chapter I asks, “Why do I need to learn from you?”.

This question is an invitation to us as educational professionals to create systems that allow students to personalize their learning. Again from Dr. Freud, “Kids know that they can learn anything they’re curious about and that there is so much more out there than the curriculum they are fed.” Education 3.0 has an important role to address this directly.

Immersive technology via the metaverse can support students’ curiosity about topics that interest them. Blockchain technology can help document, certify, and facilitate these learning experiences in a trustless way. Token-based systems have the potential to provide students with access to resources that can help grow and regenerate these learning experiences. 

Dr. Freud summarizes these points by stating, “Learning is liberated when we are released from our physical constraints when the physical world subsumes the imaginary world and we can access anything, anyone, anytime.”

It’s our responsibility as educators to pay close attention to how these immersive worlds are designed and implemented as we transition out of the physical world and into a new one. If students lose agency in these immersive worlds there is the potential to continue the corporate-owned and data-driven models of identity extrapolation.

Learning benefits when it is personalized. Immersive technology creates personalization that goes beyond the surface level discussions that are currently happening in education circles.

Is it regenerative? 

The concept of regeneration (and regenerate, regenerative, and regeneration) has been borrowed from biology and has begun to spread across a variety of well-known industries–from agriculture, energy, finance, and education. The definition changes slightly with context, but we can extract a generalized definition of regenerative to mean “to regrow or be renewed or restored.”

The sustainability of an immersive learning system depends on its ability to continuously grow itself anew. Educator Daniel C. Wall relates this concept to education in his Medium article titled Education and Regenerative Cultures (Version 0.0) the following way:

“Education for regenerative cultures is about the life-long process of enabling and building the capacity of everyone to express their unique potential to serve their community and the planet and in the process serve themselves.” 

This circular relationship between building the capacity of the individual to serve the community, serving the planet, and then in return serving the individual must be a foundational principle of the metaverse. Without this grounding in regeneration, immersive learning becomes a novelty that may replace some fo our outdated learning models, but doesn’t add any value.

Emerging interests in virtual, augmented, and immersive technologies puts us in a dangerous position. We are “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face” if we don’t lean into the innovative pedagogy that researcher Justin Reich described in his book.  Essentially cutting off in-person learning to spite its monotony.

We can examine how regeneration can support innovative pedagogy in immersive learning environments by digging a little deeper. Author Carol Sanford developed “The Regenerative Paradigm for Education” which consists of 7 First Principles of Living Systems. These are described in a series of articles titled The Regenerative Education System and Practice.

These are the characteristics found within these principles that contribute to regenerative learning:

  • Learners are agents of their learning
  • Learners are whole individuals made up of mind and body
  • Learners possess the ability to teach themselves
  • Learning happens through both participation and observation
  • Learning happens in small nodal communities

Educators can maximize the effectiveness of immersive technology by infusing these characteristics of regenerative learning into their instruction. The metaverse will be another technology that “fails to disrupt”) to borrow from the title of Reich’s book) if we don’t.

Does it allow for learning to happen non-linearly, at any time and any place?

Decentralization has taken on a new meaning in the context of web3 and blockchain. The World Bank has identified different forms of decentralization to help communicate what it means in different industries. 

Education innovator Mike Peck coined a school-specific definition of decentralization in his article Schools in an Era of Decentralized Learning Networks, “educational systems that operate both inside and outside of the traditional school structure, using a variety of methods, sources, and technologies to facilitate teaching and learning.”

Traditional school structures are no longer viable that are limited by the physical space of the school building and the time of the school schedule. There are two main reasons for this, one is the inequality of this structure, and the second is the changes in how our society is structured.

A primary force causing the inequality in our public school spaces stems from funding models in the United States that are based on income from property taxes. The type of educational experience and learning opportunities, as well as the facilities and resources that young people have access to, are impacted by where they live. There is an even greater disparity happening in countries with emerging economies and more dislocated school systems.

The structure of our school day and the school year is extremely limiting as well. The design of the school calendar is out of date and based on societal needs from centuries ago. In terms of the in-day schedule, this Atlantic article examines adjustments to disrupt the common 8 am-3 pm model.

It also is time to rethink the structure that limits learning between eight or nine in the morning to three or four in the afternoon from August/September through May/June. We need to move towards “just in time” learning models that allow learning to happen at any time and anywhere. If a student learns best during the summer months from 2 pm to 9 pm we should be able to offer learning that honors that. Same for a student who prefers 5 am to noon.

Immersive technologies have the ability to facilitate learning that is accessible across space and time. This will help create this future in which educational systems are operating as Dr. Peck says, “both inside and outside of the traditional school structure.” The metaverse will be a key technology as these systems are built.

Non-linear learning will help incorporate two learning strategies that have been proven to improve learning efficacy: the jigsaw method and self-efficacy. The jigsaw method empowers students to become content experts and disseminate this knowledge to their peers. And self-efficacy is defined by John Hattie as “The confidence or strength of belief that we have in ourselves that we can make our learning happen.”

Shifts in the architecture of our schools and effective pedagogy combined with immersive technology are the ingredients for how we can reimagine education for the next generation of learners.

Concluding Thoughts

Education is particularly ripe for change, but many transformative technologies have not been invited into our learning spaces. Legacy systems are resistant to embracing things that will make their structures and rules irrelevant.

Immersive technologies are one of these technologies. Instead of pushing them away, we need to invite them into our schools to help facilitate new learning opportunities. The “Ready Player One Test” is a framework that educators can use to guide their decision-making around immersive technology because not all implementations of this technology are beneficial.

In 2023 when the opportunity arises to implement the learning that uses immersive technology ask yourself if the learning you are designing passes the Ready Player One Test. 

  1. Does it allow learners to immerse themselves in environments that would be too expensive or dangerous to experience otherwise?
  2. Can the learning be personalized by the student?
  3. Is it regenerative?
  4. Does it allow for learning to happen non-linearly, at any time and any place?

Fireflies, Education, and the Future

What do fireflies have to do with education, society, and the future?

The Firefly Problem

In a recent episode of “People I (Mostly) Admire,” host Steven Levitt interviewed applied mathematician Steven Strogatz. Strogatz was explaining the phenomenon of the pteroptyx, a Southeast Asian firefly that will synchronously light up along the mangrove forests throughout the year.

See the video below to watch it in action.https://www.linkedin.com/embeds/publishingEmbed.html?articleId=8902216548767875099&li_theme=light

But how do they do it? How do they know when others are going to light up?

Previously scientists had speculated about what caused this phenomenon. One idea was that there was a “master firefly” that set a rhythm that they all followed. Or maybe it was the weather that dictated the rhythm. 

The actual reason is a lot more interesting.

Biologists discovered that when the first fireflies start emitting their light at sundown the other fireflies are watching each other. Slowly they start to adjust their own lights to match what they are seeing. As Steven Strogatz describes, “It’s like musicians in an orchestra can keep time together even without a conductor, by everyone adjusting based on what they’re hearing. 

Dynamical Systems for the Win

The firefly phenomenon can be explained by a branch of mathematics called “dynamical systems” also known as “chaos theory.” 

Strogatz describes it the following way: 

“Anything that changes its behavior in time according to certain deterministic rules. So deterministic meaning, it’s obeying some rule. It’s not happening at random. It’s got rules that determine the future given the present. So we try to study the implications of rules, by working out their consequences over long time scales into the future.”

So what does this tell us about human behavior?

Think about how we come to a consensus. How do groups of different people decide on a solution?

Or if we go even deeper, how are we all connected? How is it even possible that we are all connected considering a large number of people on the planet?

We just passed the 8 billion people mark for the world population. It seems impossible that two people may know the same person out of this large of a population. But if you’ve ever sat on a plane with a stranger and started talking you may have been able to determine a person that you both know. How is this even possible?

This is what Steven Strogatz along with his co-author Duncan J. Watts called the “small-world phenomenon” in their seminal paper “Collective dynamics of ‘small-world’ networks.” It’s also where the famous Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game originated.

Goldilocks Randomness

Think back to the fireflies. I mentioned that the way they synchronize their lights is to watch each other and then time their own lights to match someone else’s. But how do they know who to watch? Who is watching who? And how do they know who to sync their lights to?

The key, as the paper explains, is to introduce a small amount of randomness to a system. If things are too regular a complex system will not be able to synchronize itself. But if too much randomness is introduced it disrupts the whole system. You can say you need a “goldilocks of randomness.” Not too much, but just a little. A tiny permutation is all that’s required to produce a dramatic result.

Humans, the Future, and Education

I believe a similar phenomenon can drive change in our educational systems. Education is one of the most complicated systems humans have created (along with healthcare and the stock market).

Most teachers will tell you that it feels impossible to enact any sort of significant change. We know what we want the future of education to look like, but we have not synchronized on how we will get there. The challenge isn’t the what, but the how.

The firefly example shows that introducing just a little bit of randomness can help get a complex system to synchronize itself. I see each teacher being that small amount of randomness.

As each teacher enacts change in their classroom, they are introducing some randomness into the system. Soon other teachers will see what they are doing and begin to adjust their “light” (to use the firefly example) and synchronize their work to what they are observing.

The idea is that over time this tiny permutation can produce dramatic results.

COVID as a Permutation

The last 20 years of educational change have felt like a slow slog. Attempts at small linear change have not had a large-scale impact on the system. There have been tremendous advances in technology but education hasn’t been able to evolve at the same rate.

COVID has been a black swan event that has accelerated many technological changes. The “phase transition” from how we used to use technology to how it is being currently used was almost imperceptible. Mr. Strogatz describes it the following way:

“So we were wondering, as you go from a regular world to a random world, would there be a phase transition somewhere in the middle where you would suddenly have a small world? And to our astonishment, there was no phase transition in the middle. The phase transition was all the way jammed up at one side of that transition.”

We have transitioned from one world to another. Now we are tasked with building a preferred future for our educational systems. By “synchronizing our lights” we will be able to illuminate a future that honors the needs of the next generation of young people.

Ed3 Weekly: Now We’re Cooking

Welcome to my all new subscribers from this past week. If you haven’t subscribed to my weekly newsletter you can click here to join over 100+ others who are learning about the intersection of web3 and education.


The end of the year brings a lot of year in reviews. Many that I have encountered have focused on the negative state of cryptocurrencies and NFTs for 2022. Value wise most tokens are down 50% or more from January. But there is more to web3 than just cryptocurrency values.

A number of important advances continue to be made in web3 as the crypto winter (or “crypto extinction” as one person called it) slogs along. Now is a good time to focus on what is being built and ignore the frenzy-driven headlines that dominate mass media.

This week we will highlight exciting new developments in web3 now that the FOMO that defined 2022 comes to an end. In this week’s newsletter I will share resources on the following:

🤝 Article from Coinbase about how the web3 social stack can help control your data, identity, and relationships

🏫 A private university announces that it is the first European university to implement VR technology

🤖 Stanford University shares its findings on how ChatGPT will shake up education

🌐 McKinsey releases a report on the business growth of the metaverse in 2022


Decentralization of Social Media With Web3

Image by Coinbase Ventures

Web2 social media networks have reached a point at which the “walled garden” approach has shown its shortcomings. Ownership of user data and identities has created a power structure that makes it difficult for competitors to break through and challenge these structures.

This article by Coinbase explores how web3 introduces a technology stack that can challenge the prevailing hierarchy. Hosting, profiles, and applications are all covered as things that web3 can address. There is also a case study of Farcaster a decentralized social network gaining in popularity.

The First Metaversity in Europe

Image provided by Modul University

The metaversity (metaverse + university) concept has been spreading across the United States. Programs at Morehouse College and South Dakota State University are a couple that has been leading the way.

Now Europe is getting in on the action. This announcement by Modul University Vienna centers around a partnership with VictoryXR to integrate VR/AR into their programs. Hopefully, this is the start of additional partnerships on the continent.

Higher Ed Weighs In On ChatGPT

Photo: onurdongel / iStock

Heard of chatPGT and AI-generated text? Not sure how you couldn’t be if you’ve spent any time online over the past month.* This is without a doubt transformative technology. I have enjoyed reading and watching schools and educators alike wrestle with its impact on learning.

This media release by Stanford University puts the responses of a variety of educational professionals in one place. It is really interesting to see the different ways that people are viewing the impact of chatbots.

*Check out my own blog post on this topic

Investments in the Metaverse Are Growing

2022 will definitely be seen as the “year of the metaverse.” This report by McKinsey provides data and graphs to quantify what kind of impact the metaverse has been having. There is a lot of very insightful information covering awareness about the metaverse broken up into different demographics. It also covers the “value” of the metaverse and what direction businesses can expect it to go.


Thank you for stopping by for another issue of my web3🤝education newsletter. If you’re on LinkedIn you can check out a version of this newsletter on my LinkedIn page and give me a follow. You can also subscribe here or give me a follow on Twitter.

Robots x Humans

The future of education will be humans partnering with artificial intelligence to co-create. I prototyped this partnership by building a multi-day lesson plan using a chatbot. Through this collaboration I was able to address the following needs that are common to many education professionals:

  1. Using time more efficiently
  2. Incorporating problem-solving and creative thinking
  3. Building scaffolded instruction
  4. Real-world application

The framework below was generated on ChatGPT using the following prompt: Create a multi-step lesson plan on teaching middle school students empathy in project design

Here is the lesson plan along with activities that I would use to complement the steps created by AI. The AI-generated text is in italics my original words are in plain text.

Introduction

Introduction: Begin the lesson by explaining the concept of empathy and why it is important in project design. You might start by asking students to think about a time when they had to design a project for someone else. Ask them to consider what they did to make sure their project was meaningful or helpful to the intended audience.

This is a good introduction, but lacks any specifics on how to deliver the learning outcomes. An introductory activity I use for exploring empathy is to put students in pairs and have them design a “hybrid food” that contains the elements of their partner’s favorite food. Students interview each other about what types of foods they like, and what textures and flavors. One person takes this information and creates a new unique food from this description. In doing this activity students have created pizza with falafel or pasta with carne asada. It’s a fun way to get students to practice their listening and communication, integral skills for empathy work.

Defining Empathy

Define empathy: Provide a clear definition of empathy and explain that it involves understanding and relating to the feelings and experiences of others. You might use examples or scenarios to illustrate what empathy looks like in action.

For the “defining empathy” part of the lesson, have students watch this video and put them in small groups to write their own definition of empathy. Place the definitions somewhere for the entire room to see and do a short discussion/feedback to generate a class definition. Source your own materials on social and emotional learning such as videos and articles if the video I shared doesn’t resonate.

Practicing Empathy

Practice empathy: Next, give students an opportunity to practice empathy by asking them to brainstorm a list of different groups of people who might be affected by a project (e.g. elderly, children, people with disabilities, etc.). Then, ask students to think about what those groups might need or want from a project, and how they might go about designing something that meets those needs. Encourage students to share their ideas and discuss them as a class.

The chatbot did a pretty good job providing some specifics about an activity to use to help practice empathy. In addition to “brainstorming, a list of different groups of people who might be affected by a project” students can use observation to practice empathy. If students choose to design for people with disabilities, for example, walk around their neighborhood and take pictures of things that would be impactful on this group. Use the photographs to facilitate a discussion about what their needs are and how to solve for those needs.

Empathy in Action

Empathy in action: To further illustrate the importance of empathy in project design, you might show students examples of projects that were successful because they were designed with empathy in mind. For example, you could show examples of products that were designed to be accessible or user-friendly for people with disabilities, or community projects that were designed to address a specific need in the local area.

This phase of the lesson is a good time to expose students to case studies in design. Introduce how empathy is used in action by showing this news report on IDEO’s design process. Then have students work through three or four different products designed to solve a problem, for example Nike FlyEase shoes or this expandable conveyor system. Students can outline how the examples embody the principles of empathy identified in the first part of the lesson.

Applying Empathy

Apply empathy: Finally, give students the chance to apply what they have learned by working in small groups to design a project that demonstrates empathy. Encourage students to consider the needs and wants of the intended audience as they develop their project ideas, and to think about how their project will address those needs in a meaningful way.

It is important to use intentional scaffolding in this phase of learning. Provide students with an extended period of time to create a design or prototype (1-2 weeks depending on the depth of their application). The Stanford University “Introduction to Design Thinking Process Guide” has a section on prototypes. 

Their deliverable can be a written summary, a drawing or digital design, or even a physical prototype created using simple maker tools. This could include plastics, textiles, wood, paper, or lasers, 3D printers, sewing and embroidery machines, or a vinyl cutter. 

Closing the Lesson and Reflection

Throughout the lesson, be sure to emphasize the importance of empathy in project design and how it can help to create more meaningful and impactful projects. Encourage students to continue practicing empathy as they work on future projects, and remind them that it is an ongoing process that requires practice and awareness.

The chatbot did a good job including a final reflective piece for the lesson. After students have presented their prototypes in an exhibition have them write reflections in a journal or portfolio. Use the following as prompts: What do you understand about empathy? How can you use empathy in future projects? Or How can you apply empathy in your daily life?

Teachers and Robots Working Together 

There has been a proliferation of social media posts with articles about chatGPT technology. There is evidence that this tool is an effective way to help support teaching practice. But I have yet to see one that details how we can combine our own creative human abilities with AI. This is important because it shows how AI can help address the four challenges I identified at the beginning of the article.

  1. Using time more efficiently
  2. Incorporating problem-solving and creative thinking
  3. Building scaffolded instruction
  4. Real-world application

AI is also effective for other instructional tasks such as generating fact-based assessments, homework assignments, or even slideshow presentations. I learned that we cannot rely solely on AI to create these resources. This post was to demonstrate that the creative abilities of educators have an important role in designing supplemental activities and tasks.

I look forward to seeing how other educators use their skills to co-create effective educational resources with the help of artificial intelligence. I believe AI will make more room for teachers rather than move us out of the instructional experience. It will also help us focus on more creative components of our job as the mundane tasks of our profession get addressed by AI.

Ed3 Weekly: So Many Questions

Questions, questions, so many questions. Albert Einstein said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Curiosity is an essential skill in the world of web3. There are so many new terms and ideas being introduced that it can get overwhelming to keep up.

The landscape of the future of the internet is becoming more apparent. We should all be asking questions about how it will function in our lives. How will our systems look? This will apply across all industries from healthcare, government, energy, and more.

This all ties back to education. Our job is to design conditions that allow our students to thrive. A fundamental understanding to do this is the discipline of “futures thinking.” This helps us what Alvin Toffler called our “possible, probable, and preferable futures.” These are important lenses that help us access new knowledge to guide our educational design.

My hope is that if you have been digging into the resources I have been sharing in the previous thirty-four issues of this newsletter you have some questions. If not, I am here to help with some questions of my own and I found some relevant resources to share with you.

🏫 Web3 founder writes about the impact of decentralization on our school structures

🎧 Podcast episode from The BBC breaking down the metaverse into simple ideas

📽 Video about the term “VUCA” and why it is important for educators to understand what this means

🧑‍🎨 Newsletter article about learning design and how it will change in the future


Will Decentralization Eliminate Schools?

Photo provided by mpeck.eth

I have previously shared articles by Mike Peck and ones he co-wrote with Vriti Saraf. As co-founders of the Ed3 DAO* they have a unique insight into the impact of the future of the internet on education. They have written about the impact of DAOs on education models as well as the ways web3 will have a positive impact on education.

This article by Mike Peck dives deeper into the topic of decentralization. Mike has a deep understanding of learning architecture and he brings a comprehensive understanding of how these structures will be impacted. This article is a great way to get curious about how the structures that we take for granted will shift in the future.

*Full disclosure I work as the community growth lead at the Ed3 DAO

Still Not Sure Why People Are Talking About the Metaverse?

Photo provided by BBC News

We’ve all been inundated by metaverse talk. But it never hurts to revisit the topic to make sure you have all your bases covered. This podcast episode by BBC reviews the foundational principles of the metaverse in an easy-to-understand and factual way.

There are numerous interpretations of what the metaverse may and may not be. I find that in each summary and analysis I discover new things. Part of being curious is remaining humble. Realizing you don’t know everything and that blindspots still remain.

Do You Know What VUCA Means?

Kevin Bushweller & Emma Patti Harris/Education Week

This video doesn’t relate directly to web3, but I find it extremely important. If you have an interest in web3 then you have an interest in the future. Along with that future visioning, you have an understanding of how volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous it is.

“VUCA”, an acronym with roots in military planning has a major role in how we design and plan in our schools. While it became a little trendy during the immediate months after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a concept that we need to keep at the forefront of our thinking as we continue to navigate these times.

How Design Will Change in the Future?

Graphic by Dr. Philippa Hardman

The role of the learning designer has changed significantly in recent years due to the proliferation of technology and the shift toward online learning. With the increasing use of digital tools in education, learning designers are now responsible for designing and developing a wider range of learning experiences. As a result, learning designers now need a more diverse set of skills, including expertise in instructional design, multimedia production, and technology. (Text generated by chatGPT edited by me)

This newsletter article is subtitled “How to get & stay ahead of the learning design game in a post-AI world.” As my AI-generated paragraph above demonstrates, tools like chatGPT have major implications on how we design learning experiences. It is crucial that we as educators critically examine these tools to best understand how to incorporate them into our instruction.


Thank you for stopping by for another issue of my web3🤝education newsletter. If you’re on LinkedIn you can check out a version of this newsletter on my LinkedIn page and give me a follow. You can also subscribe to the Ed3 Weekly Substack or give me a follow on Twitter.

The Magic of the Hidden

By the Way

As a musician and educator, I source a lot of insights about my craft from the world of music. One recent insight came from an interview with John Frusciante guitarist in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He discussed how his guitar playing on the album “By the Way” was influenced by Eddie Van Halen. This helped me realize that instruction focused on content loses the magic of what is hidden.

Typically a guitarist influenced by Eddie Van Halen would be employing two of his signature guitar techniques, two-hand tapping and whammy bar dive bombs. John’s guitar playing on the album is void of these. His style is described as “recognized for the melodic and subdued emotions.” These are not things that you would associate with Eddie’s playing.

John explains it this way, “there’s a certain confidence between the way I am playing those simple things that I’m playing, and a certain precision in the accenting of things, and the rhythm playing. It’s a lot of things that I got from his style that just aren’t the obvious frontal parts of his style.”

Venice Queen

In that same interview, John also talks about how his rhythmic guitar playing was influenced by his interest in drum and bass music. When writing the acoustic guitar part of the song “Venice Queen” he used his exposure to the pulsating rhythms of electronic dance music to dictate his right-hand technique.

Listening to this driving and melodic rock-n-roll song it would be hard to hear the impact of music that uses samples and synthesizers.

Music shows us that instead of focusing on the “what” in education, we can focus on the “how.” This shift in focus can move us from only assessing content knowledge and make space for the assessment of self-knowledge.

Getting to Know You

A common experience at the beginning of the school year is a “getting to know you” activity. These commonly function as “ice breakers” or introductory diversions from the start-of-the-year routines. Adopting a musical mindset of assessing self-knowledge can help us leverage these moments to do so much more.

Frame these as important moments in which the students look inward and share valuable information about themselves. Use simple and free creative tools like Canva or Adobe Creative Cloud to have students create original pieces of digital media. Co-create rubrics with students that incorporate language around competencies like self-awareness and communication.

One template I use was shared with me by Claudio Zaval Jr. With this template students can identify unique traits, characteristics, or interests that influence them. Combining these digital creations with the peer and self-assessment rubrics that you co-created with the students, both you and the students gain insights into who they are as individuals.

Teaching Like Frusciante

John Frusciante’s guitar playing is confident in its simplicity and its precise rhythmic style. I have followed John’s guitar playing my whole life and wasn’t until that interview that I became aware he had adopted those stylistic characteristics from Eddie Van Halen.

In a similar way, John’s guitar playing has influenced my style as a teacher. From deep studies of his guitar playing, I have developed my thoughtfulness and creativity. Much like John who does extensive examinations of various musical and guitar styles I immerse myself in a variety of instructional techniques.

Ask Yourself

What magic is hidden behind your own unique style? How do you incorporate your individual interests to shape your instruction? What are the unexpected people or places that sneak their way into how you approach the craft of teaching?

By asking these questions we can unlock the magic hiding behind who we are as educators.


If you would like to hear the entire interview it is embedded below.

Ed3 Weekly: How Do You Web3?

This tweet from the Ed3 DAO Twitter account got me thinking:

What is my strategy? How do I source all this information for this newsletter? Where do I go to find valuable resources to share?

I realized that this is a great opportunity to share how I approach these questions.

Most people’s journey in web3 is a mix of podcasts, YouTube videos, Medium articles, and maybe some sharing on Twitter. From the beginning that was my inspiration for creating this newsletter in the first place.

I started to realize that it is hard to find the signal in the noise. It was also a challenge to locate reliable resources that connected all of this information to my job as an educator.

My goal in sharing how I source information is to inspire you. I would love to see more educators producing content around web3 and how they apply it to their schools or classroom.

There’s no exact science to this. In fact, part of my “hack” is to trick the algorithms into feeding you articles and posts from people and topics that offer valuable information. I source a lot of my information from traditional sources like Twitter, Google News, or LinkedIn, the use of effective search queries helps to fast-track this discovery.

Enjoy this week’s issue with resources from:

📰 Misha da Vinci’s newsletter explains the role that web3 has in shaping the future of humanity

🤖 News and opinion website Vox discusses improvements in AI technology

🎙 Podcast interview with an Edtech founder about the power of blockchain and digital ownership for educators

🥽 Article shared in my LinkedIn network on the efficacy of VR lessons

Web3 and the Future of Humanity

Image from Misha da Vinci

Newsletters are a great place to get a mix of individual opinions/outlooks and interesting resources. You should already know that because you are reading a newsletter right now! There are a variety of newsletter types to access info on web3. Some are specifically geared towards the blockchain, but I would also suggest subscribing to ones that cover AI, NFTs, the metaverse, or futures thinking.

One of my favorites is this newsletter by Misha da Vinci. It’s a nice mix of thoughtful commentary and top-notch resources. I always learn something new and my thinking is pushed in a new direction. I’d recommend this issue in particular. It is a great reflection on how web3 can shape the future of humanity.

Can AI Be Too Good?

Jasu Hu for Vox

Major publications are getting hip to web3 and are providing well-researched articles on this topic. For example, quality resources can be found in Forbes, Time, Politico, Bloomberg, and CNBC. They vary in scope and focus with some being more finance-centered or metaverse. But in general searching large media platforms can be a great place to get insight into what the masses are reading.

This article on AI was recently published in Vox. It is a rather in-depth analysis of how AI is impacting our society. The viewpoint is more pessimistic than a web3-focused resource tends to be, but it is thorough. It is important to read how writers with backgrounds in futures, technology, and science discuss web3.

“Finally” a Real NFT and Education Use Case

Image from Luke Franks

I am a major podcast consumer. Apple and Spotify offer a huge library of podcasts on their platforms, especially on crypto and the metaverse. Sometimes it feels like it is too much. It is hard to find quality podcasts that provide thoughtful analysis and deep conversation.

I’ve recently become really partial to the Welcome to the Metaverse podcast. The host is really warm and covers a wide variety of topics from education, business, and finance. This particular episode was interesting for its focus on an emerging edtech product with an NFT angle.

VR Lessons Can Increase Learning

Image by Futuclass

I have spent a lot more time on LinkedIn over the past month. The reasons behind this could be an annoyance with Twitter’s algorithm tweaks, or just looking for something new. I have found that there is a huge community of educators, futurists, and technologists on LinkedIn sharing about AI, the metaverse, and blockchain. The content is much more thoughtful and informative than what I have been finding on “NFT Twitter.”

This study is on the learning impact of immersive environments that I came across in my LinkedIn network. I have previously shared about the importance of sound research exploring the learning impact of web3-related technologies. As educators, we rely on academia to provide research and data that either supports or repudiates what we do in our classrooms. I look forward to accessing more professional-level resources as I grow my Linkedin community.


Thank you for stopping by for another issue of my web3🤝education newsletter. If you’re on LinkedIn you can check out a version of this newsletter on my LinkedIn page and give me a follow. You can also subscribe to the Ed3 Weekly Substack or give me a follow on Twitter.

Ed3 Weekly: Got Skills?

The web3 ecosystem has continued to grow which has increased the demand for future-ready skills. This isn’t just the relevant hard skills to build on the blockchain, code decentralized apps, or design artificial intelligence generators either. There are a number of soft skills that companies and builders are looking for as they hire more people in this space.

This demand connects to a broader shift in the interest in new job skills across markets. A recent report by BCG, The Burning Glass Institute, and Emsi Burning Glass has identified that one-third of the top 20 skills requested in postings for the average US job has changed since 2016.

This week I am sharing some platforms that are helping to foster these new skills. An interesting twist to this adoption is that the facilitation of these new skills is happening directly in the web3 ecosystem. This could create a “chicken-and-the-egg” effect where people need to learn web3 to move ahead, but the place to learn web3 is already on web3.

My primary purpose for curating the resources in this newsletter is to encourage educators to begin incorporating learning into their instruction that provides students with opportunities to interact with web3. A diversity of industries will interact with the blockchain, the metaverse, and AR/VR. These include fashion, sport, lifestyle, entertainment, art, design, and gaming.

The demand for job-ready skills in these industries will be increasing as we move closer to the “plateau of productivity” in the Gartner Hype Cycle. We can prepare young people for this emerging job market by giving them opportunities to use web3 tools in our schools. Here are some platforms and companies that are already implementing ways to engage with this upskilling process.

🧑‍💼 Announcement on how Sotheby’s creates the “The Metaversity for Creative Business Leaders”

👾 Summary of how a company utilizes gaming as a pathway for real-world education and history

🛠 The CEOs of Learnoverse and BitDegree announce the launch of a metaverse education project

💻 Fast Company explains the necessity for execution in the metaverse space for it to succeed

Helping Business Leaders Learn About Web3

Image source: Decentraland

The creative industry is an area that should see tremendous growth over the next 20 years. Sports, fashion, art, and design all appeal to the next generation that will be entering the workforce from high school and college. The Sotheby’s Institute is making a move into this space with this announcement about its web3 education program.

It will be interesting to see how Generation Z and Alpha approach these industry changes. How will their digital, multi-modal, collaborative approaches shape this next iteration of the internet? Programs like this one might be part of influencing that transition.

Using Gaming to Educate

Photo from caesarverse.io

This recent announcement from the gaming platform CaesarVerse is shining a light on a new application for the gaming industry. Gaming has already positioned itself as a leading part of the transition into web3 with the incorporation of NFTs and cryptocurrency. Could they have a role in education as well?

This video game is a combat-style game set in the Roman era. The two founders have a passion for Roman history and have built a historically accurate open-world experience. In addition to the in-game NFT assets, the focus of the game will also be on blending Roman mythology with historical facts.

Educational Programs and Spaces Inside Web3

Image: Finbold Magazine

At MetaExpo Singapore they released an estimate that said there will be a demand for up to 150 million jobs “to bring the metaverse into existence by 2030.” They also estimated that “around 7 million teachers will be required to educate the next generation of people who will create the metaverse.”

This is where platforms like Learnoverse have the potential to have a big impact on this emerging job market. The announcement at the MetaExpo is to “commit to upholding shared ideals such as providing equal-opportunity learning, making education accessible around the globe, and establishing procedures for the responsible accrediting of educational material.”

Executing In the Metaverse

Photo: Greg Rakozy /Unsplash

“Poorly built video game” and “I don’t think it’s a good product. It’s not. It’s not fun, it’s not good.” These are a couple of examples of how the metaverse and metaverse platforms have been described.

But what about the “potential” for the metaverse? This article from Fast Company describes how the metaverse is not different from other forms of emerging tech. It will come down to one thing: execution.


Thank you for stopping by for another issue of my web3🤝education newsletter. If you’re on LinkedIn you can check out a version of this newsletter on my LinkedIn page and give me a follow. You can also subscribe to the Ed3 Weekly Substack or give me a follow on Twitter.

Ed3 Weekly: Living In Two Worlds

Hello educator and web3 frens,

There are times in the web3 space that I feel like I am living in two worlds. One world is full of imaginative innovation in which new platforms are being built and distributed. The other world is skeptical and antagonistic full of doubtful projections of web3 applications.

Skeptical voices are healthy additions to the dialogue around innovation. An overabundance of optimism can cloud our blindspots. In order to create new things we need to account for the limitations and build around or over them.

When it comes to web3 there are four common skepticisms about its adoption:

  • Web3 is undefinable
  • The user interfaces are horrible
  • It’s not really decentralized
  • Uses way too much energy

I won’t go through each of these and try to dispute or argue them. Each has some truth to them. The purpose of this newsletter is to share out resources about what is happening in the space, relate it to education, and let you decide for yourself.

This week’s issue digs into the discrepancy between web3 as the next iteration of the internet and as a space built on delusion. I share some reflections from the doubters, and then some examples of how web3 is existing out in the world today.

Summary of this week’s resources:

🎧 Podcast interview from Bankless with the world’s most well-known web3 skeptic

🌐 An article from Venture Beat asks if Meta’s failures prove the metaverse is dead

🥽 EdTech Magazine profiles how students at Morehouse College are learning in the metaverse

🖼 New York Times covers how NFT artists are finding support from museums

Web3 is Going Just Great!

Image from https://web3isgoinggreat.com/

If you don’t know the name Molly White do you even web3? She is the pre-eminent web skeptic. Her website Web3 is Going Just Great is completely dedicated to questioning the value of web3 and highlighting every negative web3 news story that comes out. Hers is a voice to be aware of and understand. I have stated before that the willingness to immerse yourself in the ideas of the skeptics is an important trait for those in this space.

This podcast interview on Bankless is a great way to build your understanding of her thinking. I really enjoy listening to these conversations as it gets me to think deeply about my own views. It also gets you to ask some great questions for yourself, like “do I really understand web3?”.

Is the Metaverse Dead?

Image created by Louis Rosenberg using MidJourney

This article from Venture Beat poses the question Is the metaverse dead? Rather than present a skeptical view about the state of the metaverse, it argues that the metaverse is actually inevitable. It also makes some salient points like the metaverse is not NFTs and web3 evangelists are to blame for the confusion around the metaverse, blockchains, and cryptocurrencies.

So is the metaverse inevitable? That’s what the author proposes. Read the article to challenge your assumptions, rethink some norms, or possibly gain some support for your critiques.

Morehouse College Leading the Way into the Metaverse

Image from EdTech Magazine

I’ve covered the work being done at Morehouse College before. Their commitment to building metaverse platforms for learning at their institution of higher ed is admirable. This article in EdTech Magazine provides an update on how their project is advancing.

There’s a lot to love about the work that Muhsinah Morris and her colleagues are doing. This quote really stands out to me about the impact that immersive environments can have on learners: “As an HBCU, a lot of our pedagogy is based on culturally responsive spaces and making sure our students can identify with content that typically doesn’t feel like it’s for them.”

Check out the article to learn how they are leveraging these spaces to make the content feel more relevant for all students.

Museums Embracing NFTs

Refik Anadol Studio; via The Museum of Modern Art, New York

My entry point into web3 was through NFTs. I saw huge potential for this technology to financially support creators. I am a musician myself so I had a personal interest in understanding how this technology functions.

Now that the NFT hype has faded, it is nice to see that museums are maintaining interest in NFTs as transcendent pieces of art. The work of Refik Anadol is in that category of truly otherworldly art. The New York Times covers his art and how museums are working to support digital artists.

If the above link remains behind a paywall, you can also try this link that I can share with friends as part of my own subscription.


Thank you for stopping by for another issue of my web3🤝education newsletter. If you’re on LinkedIn you can check out a version of this newsletter on my LinkedIn page and give me a follow. You can also subscribe to the Ed3 Weekly Substack or give me a follow on Twitter.

Ed3 Weekly: New Beginnings

Hello educator and web3 frens,

I am feeling a sense of renewal for a couple of reasons. First off, I have officially moved my Ed3 Weekly newsletter here to Substack. I thought it was a good time to make this move as the future of the Revue platform is uncertain with the recent purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk.

The format and purpose of the newsletter will remain the same: to provide curated resources to help grow understanding of web3 for educators and web3 learners. One small change is I will re-brand this newsletter specifically under the “Ed3 Weekly” name. This seemed like a logical step as I continue to build my own writing on my blog (http://dagan.blog) and my own substack (dagan.substack.com).

I will continue to cross-post this newsletter on both my own blog and my LinkedIn newsletter. My goal is to make these resources as accessible as possible. Making sure it is posted in as many ways as possible seems to be the best way to achieve this goal.

The other reason I am feeling some extra web3 love this week is the amazing Ed3DAO “Web3 & the Evolution of Education Unconference.” It was truly a transformative event with hundreds of educators and education lovers coming together to share about reimaging education. If you missed it or just want to relive the experience, the featured talks are listed on this playlist on the Ed3 DAO YouTube channel.

But onto the web3🤝education resources for this week! As we celebrate new beginnings, I am sharing things that I think are building the foundations for the “post FTX” era that we are about to enter.

Since I mentioned the elephant in the room, I only have one thing to say. I am not a crypto or Defi expert and don’t know the technical details about what went down. What I do know is that we will look back on this as a defining moment when we reached an adoption infection point. I look forward to a bright and productive web3 future from here on out!

This week you will find resources about:

🤖 The Pew Center exploring the growing influence of AI and what it means to be human

🧠 Ed3 thought leader Scott David Meyers shares his thoughts on a post-FTX world

🌐 Metaverse expert Cathy Hackl writes in Forbes that yes the metaverse is a big deal

🏫 EdSurge continues its coverage of the metaverse and its impact on higher ed

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humans

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

As AI has moved into the mainstream (see this article from last week’s newsletter) questions about its ethics have been heavily discussed. This article by the Pew Research Center is a good summary of the main ethical concerns that we should be addressing as this technology is increasingly incorporated into our daily lives.

There are also a number of suggestions about how to effectively manage an AI-infused future. A variety of academics, experts, authors, and entrepreneurs share their thoughts about what this technology is and where it is going.

Web3 is dead. Long live web3

AI-generated image from Canva

I consistently lean on the thinking of writer and entrepreneur Scott David Meyer. He has been writing and developing in the web3 space for a while and always has the best perspectives on changes in the industry.

This brief article is a great perspective on how “true web3 might just find more fertile ground.” Whether it’s a change in nomenclature or interoperable credentials, the future of web3 will continue to ebb and change with the times.

The Metaverse Is Coming And It’s A Very Big Deal

Image from Getty

Cathy Hackl, aka the Godmother of the Metaverse, has an amazing ability to paint the clearest pictures about the ways that metaverse technology will exist in our future lives. This article from Forbes is another brilliant piece that takes you directly into our immersive future.

Cathy walks you through the economy, culture, shopping, and entertainment in this thorough explanation of what real metaverse experience will look like. Her insights are always foundational building blocks to help answer the question “how are you getting ready?”.

The Metaverse Is Built on University Innovation. Higher Ed Should Stake Its Claim

ProStockStudio / Shutterstock

EdSurge has consistently been exploring web3, NFTs, and the metaverse in its coverage of technology and education. You can see articles here, here, here, here, and here. This latest article looks specifically at how higher ed can guide the adoption of metaverse technologies.

I am a little torn on this. On one hand, I have appreciated how universities have traditionally led the way in adopting new technologies in education. Our educational institutions are slow to evolve and since the advent of the internet over 50 years ago we have relied on higher ed to push adoption. But I also worry about the disconnect between the learning being guided at universities and the needs of our K-12 students.


Thank you for stopping by for another issue of my web3🤝education newsletter. If you’re on LinkedIn you can check out a version of this newsletter on my LinkedIn page and give me a follow. You can also subscribe to the Ed3 Weekly Substack or give me a follow on Twitter.