The “metaverse” has existed for a while. Ever since Facebook rebranded itself to Meta, however, it seems that “metaverse” has become the latest mainstream buzzword. Before eLearning professionals try to integrate this emerging technology into their online courses, it is helpful to understand what the metaverse is.

Let’s start with a brief history of the various iterations of the World Wide Web:

Web 1.0 (the 90s through the early 2000s) was the “static” web. Most sites were not interactive or dynamic, and people mostly used the internet to consume content.

Web 2.0 (the early 2000s to current) saw the rise of Big Tech (and Big Data), social media, blogging, vlogging, wikis, etc. The general public started using the internet to create and share content, not just passively consume it. 

Web 3.0—typically shortened to “Web3“—is the latest, emerging iteration of the internet. Web3 brings immersive experiences to the World Wide Web. Think metaverse, blockchain, cryptocurrency, decentralization, and extended reality (XR)—including AR, VR, and MR. For example, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla have teamed up to create “WebXR” to let people access virtual or augmented reality environments directly through their web browser without needing to purchase an expensive headset or other devices. Very exciting!

If we look at the iterations of the internet from an instructional design standpoint, we see that they follow this general pattern:

Consuming> Sharing> Experiencing

I’d advocate taking this a step further as an ID and using it as a template for designing online courses. First, the learners “consume” the content. Then, you could incorporate group activities and peer interaction, where the learners “share” their knowledge with each other. Finally, you could incorporate active learning to let the learners “experience” concepts firsthand for themselves.