With Pokemon Go taking over the streets and public areas throughout the world, our students (and teachers) are experiencing what life is like when virtual reality (or in this case augmented reality) becomes a part of everyday living.
In September, when summer is over and students are back at school, how can we engage students and create exciting lessons to capture their interests instead of having them look for Pokemons under their desks?
This is simple, we use technology and virtual reality to our advantage.
Virtual reality, or simply VR, is a way to experience places throughout the world, without actually leaving the classroom.
Yes, we can show our students pictures or videos of places, but in today’s society, and especially after a summer of chasing Pokemons down the street, pictures and videos simply won’t cut it. Instead, let’s take them on a hike up Mount Everest or go for a swim on the ocean floor, all from the comfort of our classroom. Once the student puts on the VR headset, all they will see is what is displayed in front of them. Therefore, they can’t be distracted by their friend sitting next to them or the people walking by outside. They will only see what you, the teacher, have put on their screen. In order to get started with VR you really only need two things, a device and a viewfinder.
First, you need a compatible device. This could be your phone, iPod, or another small device where you can download VR apps. Depending on the size of your viewfinder, you might need a smaller device, however, most viewfinders easily fit devices around 5 inches. Since most students have Android or iPhones, if they are allowed to have their phones in school (for educational purposes), you might not have to purchase any devices, since the students can use their personal ones when needed. This way, you will cut costs significantly since you will not have to purchase a class set of devices, only a few backup ones.
This is where VR takes the next step ahead of pictures, video and street view . Once you place the device in the viewfinder, you can turn your head in any direction and look around the scene as if you were actually there. Turn your head left, right, up or down and you can see all around you in order to explore the area hands free. This is great for kinesthetic students who learn from physical experiences. To learn more about multiple intelligences, check out our page here.
VR in classrooms
So how can you use VR in the classroom? With 360 cameras becoming more popular and Google releasing Google Expeditions, the possibilities are endless. Check out YouTube for several 360 videos, that when played on a device in a viewfinder, become virtual reality for the user. Google Expeditions also allows teachers to take their students on virtual field trips by delivering the same image to all devices connected. When using Expeditions, the teacher can control all of the students’ devices that are connected in order to change the location and direct the students to focus on specific features within the image. For example, if you were teaching the Civil War, you could take your students on a virtual tour of Gettysburg National Park. Expeditions leads you through several locations throughout the park, and even provides a background on each location and leveled questions to ask the students.
Come September, teachers will have to compete with the summer of Pokemon Go, in order to engage students and capture their attention. So instead of trying to fight against the technology, let’s embrace it and use it to our advantage.
By using viewfinders and personal devices, we can take our students virtually anywhere in the world with a quick swipe.
So as you sit on the beach this summer trying to capture Pokemons, think of how you can use this technology come September in order to engage your students in learning.
Follow Educator Help in order to receive updates on how you can use VR in the classroom including lessons aligned to Google Expeditions and the Common Core.
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