For the last few weeks I’ve been watching a plan unfold, from the initial glimmering of an idea to glorious technicolour explosion. Moshie took our brief – to design an alchemy lab – and stunned us with her beautiful, detailed drawings. Niall worked his magic and turned these 2D drawings into a 360 degree VR lab. Kevin put together a Thinglink and populated it with the images and all of the submissions. Wendy did some H5P magic and lots of other stuff. We (Wendy, Kevin, Todd and I) put out a call for people to select icons (taken from the lab drawings) and submit an object back to us based on various themes, and are thrilled that there are about 50 of these now displayed in the lab. But you don’t want to sit here reading about it, do you – come and look around the lab for yourself. If you have a VR headset, you can use that for the immersive experience, but it also works on mobile or desktop. At the end there’s also an opportunity to get involved in some remixing, so if you’re feeling left out, here’s your chance to join in.
(This post has been sitting in a text file over the whole of the Christmas break)
A while back a blogged about my classes brief experience of Google Expeditions one of the things I didn’t mention was the thought that it might be interesting for children to be creators of content.
The other day I was reminded of Google Expeditions by Malcolm Wilson’s post <a href=”https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/ICTFalkirkPrimaries/are-we-really-there-virtual-reality-in-the-classroom/”>Are we really there? Virtual Reality in the classroom</a> which gives a great overview of VR & Google Expeditions. He also posted some links. I’ve not followed them all but one leads on to Cardboard Camera on the App Store. This is a google iOS app (there is an android one too) that can:
Capture and share moments with virtual reality (VR) photos. VR photos let you experience scenery and sound in every direction and in 3D, making things near you look close and faraway things look far away.
I’ve only had time to give it a couple of quick tests on my phone. The one I made in the class certainly seemed to impress the pupils when viewed in Google Cardboard.
The app saves at an image with a .vr.jpg extension in the camera roll as well as the app. When imported to photos on a mac this turns out to be 10994 pixels by 1706 and weights in at 4.9 MB. You can see an exported & much reduced version below.
As you view the image you can hear the sound recorded at the time. So You can either have atmosphere or a voice over.
According to the app store:
Compatibility: Requires iOS 9.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
I wonder if it is worth having an iPod Touch in class. I have always been slightly surprised that iPod Touches disappeared from the education scene when the iPad came along. The fact that they should work in google cardboard or other VR viewers might bring them back?
Featured image screenshot of the Cardboard Camera in action.
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.