How to Get Started with Virtual Reality in the Classroom
Ever wanted to take your students on a field trip diving 20,000 leagues under the sea, flying on a space shuttle, or spectating in the Roman Coliseum? Well now you can, thanks to Virtual Reality, without leaving the walls of your classroom. Just think, no permission slips or costly field trip fees.
VR Saves a Baby’s Life
Virtual reality isn’t just for the classroom. Doctors are using virtual reality to save lives. As reported on CNN, the clock was ticking on precious Teegan’s life. Born with one lung and half a heart, doctors had sent her home with little hope. With the help of her family, Teegan’s case became known to the chief of cardiovascular surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. Generally, the team of physicians at Miami relied on 3D models to view angles only afforded by advanced printing techniques.
However, the 3D printer at the hospital was down. With time ticking, the quick thinking team of doctors decided now was the time to incorporate virtual reality. The photo of the baby’s heart was uploaded to Sketchfab, using Google Cardboard’s virtual viewer the baby’s heart became almost touchable. Allowing the team to visualize the intricate details of Teegan’s heart and lung in the specific locations in relation to the ribcage and other structures. When Dr. Burke opened up baby Teegan’s chest for surgery, he saw exactly what he had seen in the google cardboard. The virtual tour he had taken allowed him to perform surgery with no surprises. In baby Teegan’s case, VR was the difference between life and death.
Are you ready for VR?
What will you do with VR in the classroom? How will VR get your students excited about learning in a way they have never learned before? You may be asking yourself, where do I start? What do I need? What kind of resources are available. Well, let’s take a look.
What do you need get started with VR?
1. VR Viewer: There are a variety of VR headsets on the market ranging from as little as a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. As an educator, I like two words: cheap (free is even better) and easy. My go to solution for classroom teachers has been the google cardboard viewers. The pro is that these offer a super inexpensive option. The con is the lack of durability. If you have more funds, I would suggest the View Master from Fisher Price. It’s a little more durable.
2. VR Apps: There are many free VR apps. Kathy Schrock’s Virtual Reality website provides a list of reality apps that will work on both iOS and tablets.
3. Educational Partners with VR Content: The immersive experience continues with educational partners such as ClassFlow. A quick search of the ClassFlow Marketplace leads to partner content that can be embedded directly into ClassFlow Lessons. Teachers design immersive experiences aligned to standards, and students login to ClassFlow to participate.
Are you and your students ready to build your own virtual field trip? ThingLink Edu makes this possible, start with images, add text, tags, music and narration and embed in a ClassFlow Lesson. Don’t have your own 360° images? That’s okay, simply use the “remix” option in ThingLink to copy a background from the remix gallery and begin building. For more information regarding building a virtual field trip, check out Cindy Wallace’s tips found in 8 Easy Steps to Creating Virtual Field Trips.
What are you waiting for? Explore new ways to leverage virtual field trips into your classroom today.
Author: Nisa Peek, a guest blogger for the ClassFlow Community and an Instructional Technology Specialist with iTeach at Kennesaw State University