A vision for a humanising and sustainable future of language learning with the metaverse

Nergiz Kern (In Press, 2023), Journal of Futures Studies

This paper resulted from my futures studies in the Becoming a Futurist course by the renowned Futurist and UNESCO Chair in Futures Studies, Sohail Inayatullah. I had the option to write an academic paper of 1500–2000 words for certification by the Center for Futures Intelligence and Research (CFAR) at Tamkang University. I ended up writing 8000 words! This meant that I earned my certificate and was able to submit my article to the peer-reviewed Journal of Futures Studies.

The reason I chose the topic of the metaverse and the future of language learning is an observation I have been making about educators’ reactions to technology hype.

Many educators, including in the language teaching sector, tend to follow technology hype that is created by technology companies and the media, instead of developing a more critical and sustainable attitude towards emerging technologies and promises made by edtech companies.

This is often made worse by some educational consultants and teacher trainers who themselves either believe and blindly follow the dictates of tech companies and the media, or have a vested interest in doing so. Some of them genuinely want to help educators, others profit from being the first ones to offer training courses, or from selling the technology to schools and universities. There is nothing wrong with selling and making money if what they offer is pedagogically sound and provides a balanced approach, but unfortunately, this is often not the case.

Following the hype, usually a period of disillusionment sets in. The media starts declaring the death of it almost as excessively as they did when praising it. Together with the realisation that the technology did not deliver the educational revolution that was – yet again – promised, teachers move away from it, and on to the next technology.

There is a need for educators to…

  • stop this unhelpful behaviour, or ‘used future’
  • think critically about new technology
  • think about alternative futures
  • take back agency in deciding which future they prefer.

The aim of the paper is to demonstrate how to do this by using futures thinking tools, using the example of one of the more recent concepts that was hyped and then declared dead: the metaverse. As a language education specialist, my focus and examples are on the future of language learning, but nearly everything I say applies equally to any use of educational technology in any subject.

It’s a long article, but I know from feedback I have received that it is written in a clear language that is accessible. Also, the latter parts are mini stories (aka scenarios) and a story from the future. They include everything I say before in story form. So if you like stories, you’ll enjoy these. Then, you can still go back and read the research if you are curious how those stories came to be.


With the media hype moving from the metaverse to artificial intelligence, educators’ attention has also shifted. However, technology companies, governments, and various other entities are continuing to develop their versions of the metaverse. It is important that educators do not lose sight of these developments, and instead use futures thinking tools to envision alternative futures, and work toward their preferred one, as exemplified in this article, avoiding patterns of unhelpful behaviour from the past (Selwyn, 2021). The article finishes with a Backcasting inspired story based on scenarios, deepened through CLA, and developed using the Six Pillars Foresight Method (Inayatullah, 2008).

Read the full article (In Press version, 2023) or download the PDF (will be available once it is fully published and has a DOI).