Saturday, April 9, 2016

Virtual Reality: Getting Started

At the school where I teach, two teachers were awarded a grant for a class set of View-Master VR.  After exploring Google Cardboard, they decided that the View-Master VR was an ideal product for the following reasons:

  1. Durability - They anticipate this product will not break as easily and last longer.
  2. Health - Let's be honest, schools have germs.  The plastic can be disinfected easily.
  3. Safety - Personal smartphones are safely enclosed.
Students and teachers like the Google Carboard, but for long-term use, the View-Master VR was a better choice for the intended use.

How to Get Started:

  1. Clearly inform parents and students about what devices work.  Even with plenty of notification, we still had students bring in devices that did not optimize for the Cardboard apps. 
  2. Add required apps BEFORE students come to school. Students should prepare their devices for learning at home.  They should load the app at home charge their device at home.  Many parents do not allow students to load their own apps in middle school.
  3. Have students remove their outer cases on their smartphones. We found the View-Master VRs open and close better if students remove their protective cases. Make sure they practice this at home so they can do this in class. Some of their cases are heavy duty and can get their device stuck in the View-Master.  We had one student not follow directions and was stuck.
  4. Have a day to tinker. Prior to the lesson, plan for a day to explore the app or apps, your procedure for getting the View-Master VR or Google Cardboard out and loaded with their device and how to properly put it away. (This will pay off BIG TIME)

Lesson Ideas:

With all of the apps being created, there are endless possibilities.  We are discovering apps all the time and finding a variety of ways to implement the technology into meaningful learning.

Assessment Activity 

Five Themes of Geography.  This assignment is for a 6th-grade social studies class.  The teacher found it best to create an assignment that students could fill out while using virtual reality with the following apps: Google Street View(iOS or Android), Discovery VR and the View-Master VR Experience Packs (Wildlife & Destinations).  

Investigate & Research Activity

Restaurants Around the World. This assignment is for my 6th-grade computer class.  Students are in the middle of a project-based unit learning about various Google productivity apps while designing a restaurant.  Students create a floor plan of their restaurant while using Google Drawings.  Students will also create a menu for their restaurant using an app/website, Canva.  Students will use YouVisit to explore restaurant floor plans.  I plan to assign this through Google Classroom.  Each student has access to a computer in my class.

Introduction Activity

Machu Picchu.  No worksheets needed!  The teacher plans to use this YouVisit experience as a way to introduce a larger unit.  Google Street View has VR images as well, but the YouVisit is a guided tour with a narrator.  Our school was fortunate to have Google visit with their Expeditions program December 2015.  When it is fully released, we cannot wait to go on an expedition with our classes.  It includes many locations as well.  See my previous blog post about Expeditions.

I hope this sparks a few ideas to get started with integrating virtual reality into meaning lessons.  As more content is created, I plan to continue to share!