Virtual Reality, or VR, provides a means to have an experience of a location or object (whether real or imaginary) through a mobile device, often viewed through a headset, in such a way that when the viewer moves around they see the virtual view moving with them. So the images are usually 360 degree images and can be in 3D so that when viewed on a mobile device within a headset with twin lenses it appears to the viewer as being as close to being there as possible. When you move forward, tilt your head, look up – it’s as if you are doing the same in the virtual reality experience.
What are the options for the classroom?
The least expensive option for using Virtual Reality in a classroom would be Google Expeditions using Google Cardboard viewers (while they can be viewed without a twin-lens 3D viewer the viewer will lose the feeling of 3D) which are held by the hand up to the eyes. More expensive options are available with a variety of VR viewer headsets (such as Microsoft HoloLens, Gear VR or Oculus Rift headsets) and accompanying sensors (often handheld) so that the experience can involve touching or interacting with objects within a VR experience – as you approach or touch something in virtual reality it will react in a way as it in real life.
Google Expeditions with Google Cardboard Viewers
Google Expeditions are virtual reality experiences designed with a classroom guided exploration in mind. The teacher downloads the choice of virtual reality location using the Google Expeditions app and starts the expedition. Then when the pupil on the same wi-fi connection starts the app on their device they will see the teacher-directed expedition awaiting them.
In Google Expeditions the teacher application provides suggestions for questions or directions to guide learners as they explore the virtual environment. The teacher can see on their mobile device app where the learners are exploring on their screens, and can make suggestions as the learners explore.
How do I use Google Expeditions with iPads or Android tablets?
The video below shows how Google Expeditions can be viewed on iPads rather than smartphones. Many school may already have iPads or Android tablets, and the Google Expeditions apps will work on these too. However the Google Cardboard viewer is designed with the size of a smartphone in mind. If you wish to use the app on an iPad or Android tablet then when running the setup at the point where you see the two images side by side there is a small icon at the top right which lets you change the twin view to single view. Having done that the view will no longer be 3D and will no longer be held up to the eyes of the viewer but simply handheld.
Where can I find Virtual Reality Experiences for my classroom?
Google Expeditions provides a superb source of Virtual Reality experiences ready to be downloaded for use on devices in the classroom.
Discovery VR provides a wide range of downloadable virtual reality experiences in an educational context. Each is available for specific devices and come with notes for use by the educator with their class to guide their learners in the exploration of the experience.
This is an excellent oportunity for secondary geography teachers who wish to develop their skills and confidence keadng fieldwork activities.
Field Studies Council Scotland delivers Environmental, Biology, Adventurous Activity and Geography courses for over 5000 students a year. This course builds on this expertise and aims to introduce participants to a range of different fieldwork activities which can be used with secondary school students. Attendees will consider how to structure ‘traditional’ observational fieldwork, geographical investigations and sensory fieldwork aiming to engage students more effectively with the places they are studying and interacting with. The course will also explore how to incorporate the effectiev use of formative assessment and technology into fieldwork.
Geocaching is a way to use mobile devices to engage learners with a geographical area – creating or finding hidden “caches” which can be found by solving clues to locate them.
OpenCaching is a free source of geocaches which can be downloaded to a mobile device (there are free apps for mobile devices). This site explains exactly what geocaching is all about, how it works, how learners can create geocaches or search for existing geocaches shared by others. The site details the etiquette of setting geocache challenges as well as providing guidelines for users who find geocaches, and links to the free downloadable apps for mobile devices.
Geocaching.com is a US site which provides a host of background information about geocaching, how to get started and how to create or find geocaches. There is a Geocaching 101 which provides answers to a series of frequently asked questions.
Jen Deyenberg, in her Trails Optional blog, has written extensively about the use of geocaching in the primary classroom in particular. There are several blogposts in the geocaching category on this blog each either giving examples of how geocaching has been used to support specific curricular areas, or how to go about setting up geocaches. The helpful gudies as well as illustrations of what actually happened in the classroom makes these useful for primary teachers looking for inspiration.
What I liked
about David’s ideas the most is that in his own learning journey he has started
to challenge what knowledge is important to teach. Like many teachers he
started out teaching ‘depth’ but
realised in the end that ‘breadth’
was just as important. Big History also challenges subject silos. In encourages
people to take a more integrated look at science and humanities and realise
that both have common ground and many parts of both curriculums are not very
YouTube Video below explains Big History in a lot better way than I ever could:
After Washington Ian remained in contact with
David and facilitated a conversation between him and Joe Wilson, Head of New Ventures at
the SQA. Ian and
Joe were keen to explore how we might get Scottish Schools involved in the
pilot programme for 2012/2013 before the large scale worldwide rollout in
2013/2014. Joe and I also met with David when he visited Scotland in early 2012
and as a result of a lot of hard work from Joe (and others) combined with a
personal recommendation from David. Scotland
participated in the global Big History Pilot.
we expected the pilot was a success and the Big History Course is now
available for all schools and educators globally. There is also a public
version of the course that will go live in September 2013.
resources and learning tools built into the course (including the teachers
dashboard) are really good and although it is currently only aligned to the US Common Core ELA
standards for 9/10th grade, making links to CfE is not rocket science.
I have to admit
to being a bit of a rubber duck fan – I mean who isn’t…?
Anyway, I came
across this interesting map that shows some of the locations that 29, 000
rubber ducks ended up after they escaped (well
fell off!) a cargo ship in January 1992.
What a fantastic
context for teaching about ocean currents and also a good opportunity to create
a geographical mystery. After a bit of Googleing I found out that the story of
these little fellas is quite well documented over on rubaduck.com(there really is a website for
everything!) and a 2007 article written for the Daily