Jeffrey R. Young
Oct 29, 2021
Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta yesterday, as part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s sweeping vision of creating a next-generation “embodied” internet inspired by science fiction, where users, as he described it, will be “in the experience, not just looking at it.” And he is targeting education as one key part of that vision.
What that metaverse will look like is still a bit vague, but the company gave some hints in prepared statements and in an hour-long video it released. And it has committed real dollars to the educational part of its effort, promising that its Facebook Reality Labs will invest $150 million in an education program to assist with tech development and to train people to use augmented and virtual reality tools.
And Facebook (er, I guess now Meta) announced that it would partner with Coursera and edX to help push Meta’s curriculum in augmented and virtual reality, which it calls the Spark AR Curriculum. A spokesperson for edX, which started as a nonprofit by Harvard and MIT but is in the process of being sold to for-profit 2U, said the group would share more information about the partnership and its broader shifts in the coming weeks.
The choice to bet the future of Facebook on the word “metaverse” is an interesting one at a time when Facebook is under intense scrutiny for its growing power, and after the recent leak of internal documents that suggest the company has moved forward with features despite internal research showing social harm. As it turns out, the term “metaverse” was coined in a dystopian novel that is highly critical of growing corporate control of society and of internet technologies.