Friday, March 24, 2023
Legal Considerations for Offering Metaverse-Based Education
Jon Garon (Nova Southeastern University), Legal Considerations for Offering Metaverse-Based Education (2023):
Although the metaverse is still in its early stages, those emerging metaverse platforms such as Roblox and Fortnite have over 400 million monthly active users, the majority of which are 13 or younger. A generation of learners and future citizens are emerging from a future that is not evenly distributed or well understood by the parents, educators, and policy makers who provide resources and establish educational policy.
This article identifies key considerations that must be addressed to anticipate and shape primary, secondary, and post-secondary education using “the educational metaverse,” a range of virtual reality, augmented reality, and similar technologies. The article first explores the intersection of recent First Amendment jurisprudence involving non-classroom speech in the context of virtual reality platforms as well as identifying the potential ways in which the metaverse as a medium has its own influence on the speech and messaging it encompasses. The article then turns to the various legal, ethical, and societal implications of shifting experiences and even institutions into the metaverse environment.
Specifically, the article addresses the consequences of the digital divide on access to low-income, marginalized, and under-served communities, concerns regarding online harassment, and the importance universal access and equity in the provision of technology. The article also addresses the obligations under various educational and privacy laws, including FERPA, COPPA, ADA, and the Rehabilitation Act to provide each student in the educational metaverse a quality educational program. Finally, the article looks to the contractual practices used by vendors in the metaverse to identify important practices for educational institutions to assure that students’ creative rights are respected and the use of private contractual terms of service do not interfere with the fundamental rights of the students, teachers, and families involved in the ever-expanding use of pervasive technology to mediate learning.