Submissions/ Competition





Navigating the Metaverse:

 Exploring its Impact on Social Interaction, Education, and Commerce


Fang Yen-Jung

M.A. Program in TESOL for In-Service English Teacher (ETMA),

 National Chengchi University

1121_501019001: Reading and Writing II

Prof. Liu Yi-Chun

November 20, 2023



In 1992, the term “metaverse” was coined in a sci-fi novel titled Snow Crash, envisioning a virtual reality-based internet where the protagonist, a pizza delivery boy in real life, transcends reality to become a significant metaverse player (Stephenson, 2000). Fast forward to present, this once-fictional concept is evolving into a reality poised to revolutionize the technology and entertainment industry. By leveraging immersive technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), an immense, three-dimensional environment unfolds seamlessly alongside the real world (Dionisio et al., 2013), fostering global engagement, innovative learning pathways, ownership of virtual goods, and transforming transactions such as buying, selling, and investing. The metaverse is defined as a computer-facilitated universe parallel to the reality, which carries profound implications for the future, reshaping various facets of our daily lives, including social interaction, education, and commerce.


The metaverse, defying traditional confines, not only enhances our sense of interconnectedness but also revolutionizes social interaction, surpassing the constraints of prior communication in 2D computer-mediated environments like Skype and Zoom. According to Hartmann et al. 's (2015) spatial presence theory, individuals using highly immersive virtual reality systems encounter a greater sense of spatial presence which refers to the perception or illusion of being situated in a mediated or virtual environment, as though physically present within that space (p.116). In addition, these advanced systems have the capability to generate a more extensive range of social cues, including audio, text, visual, and even haptic signals, leading to an enhancement of social presence (Sharan et al., 2022). In the tentative framework presented by Hennig-Thurau et al. (2023), empirical studies were conducted to support the claim that the 360-degree, immersive experience in the metaverse, facilitated by virtual reality headsets, creates a bigger space for diverse social cues. Within this framework, 328 German students were assigned to settings such as 2D Internet and Virtual-Reality Metaverse, engaging in various contexts like work, joint consumption, and employee-customer interfaces. The results underscore the paramount importance of social presence in the virtual-reality metaverse. Participants consistently reported a heightened level of social presence when using virtual-reality headsets in the metaverse compared to the 2D internet, across diverse contexts. This heightened social presence not only fosters social interaction but also contributes to positive evaluations, eliciting favorable emotional experiences in most settings. In conclusion, the metaverse, with its immersive capabilities and expanded range of social cues, sets the stage for a more profound and positive social experience, challenging the boundaries posed by traditional 2D communication platforms.


Beyond its impact on social interaction, the integration of the metaverse in classrooms is becoming more prevalent, injecting fresh vitality into static subject knowledge (Díaz, 2020). In the bibliometric analysis of the metaverse in education (Tlili et al., 2022), the researchers examined application trends based on studies available in the Web of Science (WOS) since 2007 when research on applying the metaverse in education commenced. Although the number of studies experienced fluctuations from 2007 to 2021, there has been a noticeable upward trend in recent years. Among them, the majority of studies favor high technological levels of simulation and intimate interactions, pointing to a preference for the Virtual Worlds (VW) Metaverse over the other three types (Augmented Reality, Lifelogging and Mirror Worlds) categorized in the studies. When it comes to the distribution of the studies in educational fields, the findings reveal that 53% of Metaverse research studies were employed in the domains of natural science, mathematics, and engineering with general education (15%) and arts and humanities (11%) coming next in utilization. The research further illustrates that, in terms of STEM disciplines such as natural science, mathematics, and engineering, the Metaverse provides tools that assist in creating three-dimensional models, facilitating teaching and learning. Additionally, the Metaverse is employed to create an immersive learning experience, allowing students to interact with virtual objects related to their experiments, potentially enhancing their understanding and engagement. In the field of education, the widespread adoption of the Metaverse results from its potential to generate innovative learning opportunities by integrating the virtual realm with traditional physical classrooms. This combination opens avenues for collaborative, cooperative, and problem-based learning. Lastly, in arts and humanities, the Metaverse is often used for language learning purposes, enabling communication among individuals speaking different languages within virtual environments. This capability presents novel and innovative opportunities for acquiring proficiency in foreign languages. Building upon the diverse educational applications of the Metaverse, the integration of virtual classrooms within this dynamic environment is increasingly prominent. In today's educational landscape, several virtual classrooms within the Metaverse have emerged, such as Avantis World by Eduverse, Universe by ViewSonic, or Roblox Education and more. Complementing this trend, Avantis World is a virtual learning platform that provides access to numerous educational virtual reality experiences. Users can explore these experiences within the virtual theme park, and it offers distinct zones and learning scenes, each focusing on various educational subjects. For instance, students can embark on an instantaneous field trip to outer space to study planets or transport themselves back in time to ancient Egypt to witness the lives of ancient times (ClassVR by Avantis, 2022, 0:38). As we navigate the evolving landscape of education within the metaverse, the multifaceted integration of the metaverse in education, as evidenced by its impact on various disciplines and the rise of virtual classrooms, reflects a dynamic shift towards a more interactive and immersive learning environment. This transformation opens up innovative educational avenues, redefining the way we approach learning and teaching (Díaz, 2020).


The metaverse, merging the physical and virtual worlds, empowers businesses to thrive simultaneously in both environments, leading to a redefinition of the entire commercial landscape. Within this expansive digital space, retailers connect with potential consumers worldwide, offering novel purchasing experiences beyond the confines of traditional 2D internet. Notably, HUGO BOSS, a German luxury fashion brand, has opened a virtual showroom as an extension of its Miami Fashion Show in the digital world. By using AI to translate the creative concept of the show, the showroom engages users worldwide to discover BOSS products in an innovative way (Baxevani, 2023). The looks displayed in the showroom are shoppable in its online store that users can access from the virtual showroom (HUGO BOSS, 2023). In the automotive industry, VR technology has been long utilized, exemplified by Cadillac's introduction of virtual showcase rooms in 2017, enabling authentic exploration of car features without a physical visit (All Things Media, 2017, 0:20). Beyond enhancing physical sales, companies also tap into the metaverse by creating virtual products, generating additional revenue streams. In the gaming platform like The Sandbox, all users are able to craft, share and monetize their virtual creations and assets from small items like wearables to entire lands by utilizing blockchain technology and Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) (The Sandbox, 2023). Blockchain ensures decentralized, transparent, and secure interactions in virtual worlds (Xie et al., 2019), while NFTs serve as cryptographic proof of ownership and authenticity for unique items (Rehman et al., 2021). Most NFT transactions involve cryptocurrency; however, this virtual currency flows bidirectionally, allowing holders to buy or sell virtual money. This demonstrates a strong connection to the real economy (Ceruleo, 2014). Ultimately, the symbiotic integration of the physical and virtual realms in the metaverse not only transforms the way businesses operate but also leads a revolutionary era in commerce, where global connectivity, immersive purchasing experiences, and novel revenue streams redefine the very essence of consumer engagement and market dynamics.


In summary, the metaverse has brought about and will continue to bring significant transformations in social interaction, education, commerce. It facilitates connections among people from different locations who can interact within a three-dimensional space, engaging in conversations and socializing in real-time. Furthermore, being in the metaverse provides individuals with a heightened sense of spatial presence, as if they are physically present in that space (Hartmann et al., 2015), allowing a broad range of social cues, leading to an enhanced sense of social presence (Sharan et al., 2022), thereby bolstering social interaction. In the current educational landscape, the metaverse is utilized across different domains, from STEM classes to arts and humanities. It serves not only as a tool to facilitate teaching and learning by providing 3D models and enabling interaction with virtual objects related to students' experiments, but also as a platform for students to enhance their foreign language proficiency by engaging with individuals who speak different languages (Tlili et al., 2022). In the realm of commerce, the metaverse introduces a paradigm shift, enabling both consumers and sellers to engage in a new way of trading. Through the creation of virtual showrooms, sellers can connect with potential customers worldwide, allowing them to experience products without the need for physical visits (Baxevani, 2023; All Things Media, 2017). Additionally, the metaverse empowers users to own virtual goods through the purchase of NFTs using cryptocurrency. This unique ownership is further emphasized by the action to convert these cryptocurrency holdings into traditional fiat money, demonstrating a strong connection to the real-world economy (Ceruleo, 2014). In brief, I believe the existence of the metaverse is akin to the creation of a parallel universe, where individuals from across the globe have the opportunity to connect, engaging in a myriad of human activities with just a simple click or wearing a headset. While the metaverse holds immense promise, it comes with concerns and potential risks, encompassing issues of security, privacy, business models, moral and ethical principles, and social impacts (Tlili et al., 2022). Nevertheless, within these challenges lies the crucible of innovation. Navigating these issues presents an opportunity to unlock the metaverse's full potential. It is important to approach the metaverse not just as technology but as a platform for enriched social interaction, education, and global commerce and a myriad of possibilities yet to be explored.





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