Virtual Reality in Education

One of the gimmicks of my room is that we got a VR headset near the end of the year. (Specifically, an Oculus Rift). I was really excited to get one, since I already use a personal one at my house fairly frequently.

There’s a lot of fun games and activities that can only be experienced in VR, but the best part of owning a VR headset is definitely watching others have their minds blown by using a modern headset for the first time. As a teacher, I got to do this a lot. The technology is a lot better than people who haven’t used modern VR expect.

Anyways, in case any other teachers out there are considering purchasing a VR headset for their classroom (I think the Oculus Quest at 400$ is especially viable), I thought I’d do a post about some potential uses of VR in the classroom.

How I have already used it:

So I only had VR for like the last month of the school year, but we used it a few fun ways:

  • First, we played Minecraft during breaks / after school. This game has a ton of potential for art projects and community building. The best part of Minecraft is that other students on iPads, computers, or phones can play on the same server and interact with the student using VR.
  • I had students sign up for a 20 minute block so they could each experience: “Traveling While Black” – a VR experience about “The Green Book” and the Jim Crow era. This paired with our antebellum South unit to bring to light how much injustice continues to exist today.
  • Beatsaber is always a hit. It’s also really good exercise, but has the downside of being such a good workout that everyone sweats into the headset and makes it a lot less fun to share a device.

Other potential uses:

History

Anne Frank House VR – “The award winning Anne Frank House VR offers a unique and emotional insight into these two years. Experience the world-famous Secret Annex in a never before seen way. Travel back to the years of the Second World War and wander through the rooms of the Annex that housed the group of 8 Jewish people as they hid from the Nazis. Immerse yourself in Anne’s thoughts as you traverse each faithfully recreated room, thanks to the power of VR, and find out what happened to the Annex’ brave inhabitants.” (All Headsets Supported: Oculus Quest, Oculus Go, and Oculus Rift)

Science

National Geographic Explore VR – Travel to Antarctica with National Geographic Explore VR, and set off on a thrilling expedition of discovery. Navigate around icebergs in a kayak, climb a massive ice shelf and survive a raging snowstorm as you search for a lost emperor penguin colony. (All headsets supported)

Google Earth – Explore the earth / street view through Google Earth. (All headsets supported)

Math & Engineering

Minecraft – A VR version of microsoft’s Minecraft game. It’s supports crossplay between VR and Computers / iPads/ smartphones. Minecraft is basically unlimited legos, and it also has lots of educational modules created by teachers & Microsoft. (Oculus Rift Only). Next year I want to provide this as a group-option for art projects to demonstrate mastery of certain units. For example, maybe students could build a model of cathedral for our Medieval Europe unit?

Art

Oculus Quill – A VR Illustration application. Students can use this to paint 3D and 2D artwork. (Oculus Rift only)

Oculus Medium – A VR Sculpting application. Students can use this to craft & sculpt 3D art work. (Oculus Rift only)

Physical Education

Beat Saber – A lightsaber based rhythm game that integrates music and movement. Extremely fun & addictive, and surprisingly good exercise.(Oculus Rift & Oculus Quest only)

BoxVR – A boxing based exercise app. (Oculus Rift & Oculus Quest Only)

Dance Central – A dance-based game that is fun, musical, and good exercise. (Oculus Rift & Oculus Quest only)

Final Thoughts

Virtual Reality is a tool like any other. Right now it’s still in its infancy stage; there’s a good amount of educational things you can do with it, but not like a lot.

I can really foresee VR making dramatic transformations in the educational system overtime. It could be amazing for homeschooling (imagine attending virtual class like right out of Ready Player One), for teaching social skills (there’s actually been a decent amount of research on this already), but also for reaching the “R” in the SAMR scale and redefining the way we learn about Math, Science, History, Art, or ELA.

I’m really glad I have the set in my classroom, but I don’t think I’m going to push for one-to-one VR devices just yet :p

I’ll leave you with a quote from the book that I’m still waiting for the sequel to come out for:

Unlike their real-world counter-parts, most of the OASIS public school teachers seemed to genuinely enjoy their job… Teachers could take their students on a virtual field trip every day, without ever leaving the school grounds.

Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s