VR IN THE CLASSROOM
When I first experienced virtual reality, I didn't make it's connection to education. The idea that we could "play games" in the classroom with virtual reality seemed to offer little to no educational value. After experiencing the VR apps available last year, I completely changed the way that this technology could and should be used in the classroom.
When putting on my Google Cardboard and looking around, I immediately began imagining how this experience could break our kids out of the classroom scenery, and dive into their lessons (literally).
Eventually, I was overwhelmed by the many 360 videos on YouTube as I immersed myself into the experience. Not only was I watching what I wanted to watch, I could watch the same video multiple times and have a completely different experience each time. Pausing the video only brought about more disbelief as the experience was frozen in time but I could still look around.
Understanding several cameras wrapped in a circle pointing outward and stitched together made sense, however, my lack of knowledge in app development is much more fuzzy. Regardless of the way this technology was designed, this resource is growing and should be seriously evaluated. FYI, this list could be updated daily as new VR apps for EDU keep coming. If you want to stay in the loop with current VR apps, join this Google+ Community - VR in Education.
MY TOP VR CLASSROOM APPS...FOR NOW
If you are looking for panoramic photos to come to life, this app allows users to view and create their own spheres from all over the world. The benefit of this app, is the opportunities to create VR experiences and share the content by link for others to view in the app or on the web. One of the best features in this app is the opportunity to add hotspots within the image. As you view, you can select the "i" to gain more insight into the 360 experience.
The negative with the RoundMe app is the unexpected content. This app was not designed for education, although unusual, it's possible to accidentally arrive up in the middle of an inappropriate panorama.
CLASSROOM IDEA: Take a panoramic image of your classroom to prepare students and parents for the first day of school and embed the scrolling image on your classroom website.
CLASSROOM IDEA: Have students create a panoramic image and add hotspots to North, East, South, West, identify the biome, or create a scene for a written story.
While Nearpod has been around for quite some time, they have recently added a new feature that is incredibly easy to add VR in your lessons. Adding the exploration of different scenes and locations can change the atmosphere in your classroom and bring students to places they would never see without this technology. The inclusion of VR can be assesses by questions, activities, YouTube videos, and more.
In order to use the VR feature in Nearpod, you must have a Gold, School or District subscription. Using the Gold subscription, I was able to get 50 participants to join in the lesson at TCEA 2016 without a single problem. The VR feature works best on mobile devices as 360 cities is unpredictable on computers.
CLASSROOM IDEA: Take your class on an adventure to an unknown location and ask the kids to make predictions of their location from what they observe in the VR field trip.
I was incredibly blown away the first time I experienced 360 videos in YouTube on my phone. How is it possible to watch the video all around me? I am absolutely hooked on 360 videos, and I hope that our schools will catch up with the technology requirements as quickly as it's available. When I ran across in360tube I didn't quite understand it's benefits. I found the need to use the app when I couldn't bring myself to add YouTube on student devices. It was then that I realized how valuable this app was because it eliminated the advertisements and recommended videos.
The benefits to using this apps certainly outweighs to cons. I have found that the app is down for maintenance at times and not all videos that are 360 in YouTube don't pull in in360Tube correctly. At this point, this is the best option I can find and hoping the app continues to improve.
CLASSROOM IDEA: Select a specific 360 video and ask the students to write a story that incorporates the elements of the video.
CLASSROOM IDEA: Have the students play "Where's Waldo" and look for specific items: rock erosion, writing verbs seen in the video, the season observed, landforms, etc. BTW, Where's Waldo does exist in 360!
While it's hard to pick just one, Google Spotlight Stories seems to be my favorite VR app to show classes, because being apart of a 360 style story is so much fun! The story will pause as you explore the scenery around and resume when your back to the main scene. Google Spotlight Stories gives me hope of a new way of storytelling. Imagine the future of 3 different stories happening all around you within the same video. Our view of the world is all we see, but WHAT IF we could see the story from multiple perspectives? The possibilities are endless and I hope this will be a reality in the future.
The dilemma I run into with this app is the requirement of the latest iOS and a fairly new device. With such an incredible app, it was ironic to see no updates since July 2015 and the app doesn't allow split screen for Google Cardboard...yet. I'm curious what Google has in store for the future of this app to transform stories forever.
CLASSROOM USE: The students can watch the stories and then write the words to the story that could be read during the experience.
I have recently started using the 360 experiences from AugThat and taken session attendees on mini-vacations. Exploring the world around us is important, and these 360 panorama images are breathtaking. If you haven't checked into the amazing AR lessons in AugThat, you'll definitely want to check out the VR activities.
CLASSROOM USE: Ask students to draw a picture that was not in the scene, but could have been.