Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are buzzwords that every educator wants to know more about. They are two distinct functions. Kathy Schrock, columnist for Discovery Education explains:
Augmented reality layers computer-generated enhancements on top of an existing reality to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it.
Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of real life… It immerses users by making them feel they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand.
The differences are actually pretty simple. Virtual means experiencing a world that doesn’t exist. Augmented means adding something virtual to the physical world.
- 900 VR Expeditions — requires the Expeditions app
- Class VR
- InMind VR–a sicientific VR game
- Jurassic VR–Aptosaurus VR experience to experience a dinosaur up close
- NearPod VR
- Tour Creator–make a VR tour in Google
- Timelooper. This one will take you back to important moments in history from all around the world.
- Titans of Space app will take your students to the moon.
- Trench Experience VR will take you into the trenches in WWI.
- UnimersiveVR–learn with VR
- VR tours of museums
Ways to use VR
- VR field trips
- for students with Special Needs — The Jackson School in Victoria, Australia has been using the Oculus Rift to help students with special needs and the Silesian University of Technology in Silesia Poland is doing therapeutic exercises with autistic students using virtual reality technology.
- experience careers first hand
- time travel to historic events
- explore the human body
- feed curiosity
Watch this student exploring xxx with VR:
More on VR
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.
The potential impact of Virtual Reality (VR) in the classroom can’t be overstated. It has become the most exciting education device in a decade, enticing students to become engaged in pretty much any topic that includes a VR overlay. As a learning tool, it’s affordable, inclusive, and worth the moderate learning curve required to get it up and running.
Let me step back a moment and explain what VR is. HowStuffWorks defines it this way:
using computer technology to create a simulated, three-dimensional world that a user can manipulate and explore while feeling as if he were in that world.
Marxent explains it simply as:
the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Virtual Reality’s most immediately-recognizable component is the head-mounted display (HMD).
If you (desperately) want to unpack this revolutionary tool in your classroom, there are lots of online resources — some free, some with a fee — available to address a wide variety of education needs. Here are my favorites:
If you use the Expeditions app (see below), here’s a curated spreadsheet of 900 free expeditions available to you and your classes. It is crowd-sourced and sorted by tag, name, Panorama title, location, brief description, link, with a cell where teachers can note any additional required materials.
On a separate tab of the spreadsheet is a similar curated list of augmented reality expeditions, for those who have that technology available.
Here’s an interesting piece from Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Jane Sandwood, on the explosion of wearable technology and its place in the education ecosystem:
As of 2015, 94% of K-12 students had a computer in their home, with 61% of the same demographic having internet access as well. With the rapid and constant growth of technology combined with the myriad of ways that it’s permeated the lives of all of society, especially youth, there’s no place where technology is wholly absent. As a result of this, wearable technology has advanced farther than phones in pockets and can include things as advanced as virtual reality headsets that allow students to experience a completely different atmosphere.
Though it can feel easy to become overwhelmed by technology, the reality is that technology of all sorts and types is here to help us, and nowhere is this more true than in the field of education. The vast majority of students are inseparable from the technology that they carry with them daily. Because of this, education must look at ways to coexist and thrive with the technology rather than shun it.
Helping to Hear
Education doesn’t stop outside of the classroom. Utilizing modern audio technology allows an incredible amount of versatility to when lectures can be accessed. Oftentimes, lectures will be entirely delivered in audio, causing there to be little to no loss in learning from the loss of the visual aspect.
Audio technology is especially portable and non-intrusive to in-classroom lessons as well. Headphones can be used to hear the lesson more clearly if students are far from the instructor or hard of hearing. There are also countless well-made translator apps that can help students that don’t natively speak the language of the lesson to understand what they’re being taught.
Virtual Reality–VR–is the 2018 buzzword among students, teachers, and even parents. And rightfully deserved, VR has the ability to recreate so many of the rules that used to shape education. Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Sara Stringer, shares her opinion on the key factors that could affect the importance of VR to education:
Opinion: How VR Will Impact Student Education
Virtual reality (VR) is an exciting new concept that continues to shape how users see the world around them. It’s one of the few technologies that inspires students who have never known life without smartphones and the internet.
The learning potential of VR is incredible. It offers new ways to inspire and engage students and will undoubtedly have a greater presence in education as the technology becomes more available. In particular, students who are enrolled in online charter schools can greatly benefit from these technological advances. However, to really predict the prevalence of virtual reality in the future of education, we have to take a look at three key factors.
One of the things that makes VR so universal is its ease of use for students of all ages.
Younger students—preschool to early elementary—typically learn through experience. Putting them into immersive environments can complement the learning they’re doing at home or in the classroom and extend their understanding of new concepts and ideas. Through VR, they can visit far-off places, see dinosaurs walk the earth, and observe wildlife in their natural habitats.
VR gives students more contextual information to what they’re learning. Reading or watching videos about the tides is one thing; being submerged in the ocean to witness the influence they have on sea life is another. It can also unlock students’ potential and keep them engaged no matter what subject they’re learning. They can gain new perspectives on the people, places, cultures, and subjects they’re studying. More complex subjects, like anatomy, can come to life for older students. Not only can they virtually visit a lab, but they can hold a heart in their hand.
The first thing most teachers think about when discussing gamified learning is the online math games kids play. Maybe Vocabulary.com and its spelling games come to mind next. But those webtools exemplify where the gamification of education started. Their approach is good but way down the SAMR pyramid to what can be done today, easily, in classrooms.
Let me step back a moment to explain the SAMR Model as it applies to the use of technology in education. It is used to discuss the implementation of technology in the classroom by organizing tech-in-education tools into four categories or types of usage:
- Substitution: Technology is a direct replacement for something, e.g. ebooks in place of print books or online math drills in place of worksheets.
- Augmentation: Technology not only replaces a traditional tool but adds functionality, e.g. using Google Earth to explore the setting of a story rather than a map
- Modification: Technology allows for a significant change, e.g. using screencasts to explain a process.
- Redefinition: Technology allows for the creation of completely new ways of learning that were previously not possible. e.g. using virtual meeting tools (like Google Hangouts) to include housebound students in a class.
The SAMR Model directly relates to the evolution of games in education, from simply substituting online drills for worksheets to creating new ways to learn that students love. The gamification of learning became popular at first because students exhibited great aptitude and tolerance for learning new material when gameplaying, but the reason that popularity lasted is even more simple: Applying the characteristics of gameplaying to learning works! The most well-known example is the viral popularity of Minecraft and the way it has been applied to every academic corner of learning.
Here are some general ideas of how you can gamify learning in your class, on a budget and without extensive retraining:
Vivek Singh, education professional and contributor to Ask a Tech Teacher, has some interesting ideas on using your native LMS as a social learning platform. He has some great thoughts on breakout rooms, discussion forums, virtual reality, and gamifying lessons. I know you’ll enjoy their thoughts:
Earliest forms of learning, dating back to the stone-age, involved storyboarding one’s experiences on rocks. These photo-stories would prove as a valuable resource for generations to come. Education, thus, has its roots in the earliest social interactions. One of the fundamental qualities that ensured our survival is collaboration through knowledge sharing, imitation and behavior modeling.
Little has changed in today’s space-age. We inadvertently learn from our daily social interactions, with most of our informal learning happens through online sources of information. For example, YouTube, social media, news websites, even self-help videos/blogs which are present in every possible genre. This way of learning is attributed to the advent of the internet which has impacted the adoption of online learning software to facilitate formal education. LMSs are now being accepted as one of the ways to learn smartly. Taking note of the importance of social learning, some LMSs have begun to add features to promote social learning, for those students who are studying online. Learning Management System features that support social interactions amongst students, enhance the learning outcomes for any given online module or course.
What makes your LMS a social learning platform?
Features and activities that enable collaboration among learners could be implemented in the form of chat-boxes, discussion forums, live interactive sessions supporting real-time data sharing capabilities, and many more. Here are some critical features that can essentially leverage an LMS to become social in the true sense.
Every teacher I know has virtual reality on their radar. It’s one of those short-listed disruptive technologies that kids want to be involved in and will change teaching for the better. I was thrilled when Amanda Ronan over at Teach.com suggested that she write a how-to for teachers on getting virtual reality started in their classrooms. I think you’ll enjoy her thoughts:
Suddenly, virtual reality is everywhere. The technology lets you experience worlds you’ve never dreamed of visiting. You’ve seen people drop their phones into what look like small cardboard boxes and suddenly they’re transported back in time or to the moon.
As an educator, you probably look at those devices and wonder if you need a degree in computer science to figure out how to use them, let alone how to incorporate the tech into your classroom. But, we’re excited to let you in on the secret: VR is super easy to get started with.
Get Started with VR
Just follow these simple steps and you’ll be the hippest teacher around. Not to mention, your students will be totally engaged in the world, both real and virtual, around them. Set an example, and you might even get the whole school on board. Talk about leadership material.
1. Pick Your Equipment.
To use virtual reality in the classroom, all you need is a smartphone capable of downloading the VR apps or videos (more on those in a second) and a headset. The VR headset provides different screens, and therefore different images, for each eye. They also include sound and motion-sensors, so when you move your head, the image moves, too.
If your school has a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, you can ask for student volunteers willing to download the apps or videos onto their phones. You’ll only need enough phones with the apps as you have headsets. Teachers just getting started with VR usually start out by having groups share a headset.
One of the best ways to start out is with the Google Cardboard headset. There are a bunch of different options, but they start are $7.00 each. This keeps the tech affordable. If you order a few for your classroom and find yourself using VR more than you thought you would, order a few more. Or, if your students love the experience, you can possibly convince your district to invest in an account with Nearpod, an educational company that offers everything you need to do VR right, from the headsets, to standards-aligned lesson plans, to the opportunity to make and produce VR lessons yourself. Being a tech ambassador is a great way to influence change in your school on an organizational level so get excited and let your enthusiasm be contagious!
Day by day, technology is becoming more and more present in our lives. As the time goes by, we tend to rely on technology more and more. A good example would be the kids nowadays. They are becoming tech-savvy from a very young age. Twenty years ago, kids were outside playing games from football to hide-and-seek, today’s kids are becoming too attached to their gadgets. They spend their time playing video games rather than hanging out with their friends.
Technology can be either a curse or a blessing, depending on how we use it. In good hands, it can be directed to the achievement of great purposes. Even so, if we use it in an unfavorable way, it can have a lot of malicious side effects.
Augmented reality is a technology that is gaining more and more popularity. Just remember what a huge hit Pokemon Go was this summer. Even though it’s a new technology, it doesn’t mean that it has to be very expensive. You don’t have to buy expensive glasses, you can just use your smartphone or a tablet for educational purposes.
Let’s take a look at three helpful reality apps. They can make your lessons exciting and beneficial for your students.
This is a helpful app because it can combine two elements and create a new one. For example, you can take two triangles and transform them into a rhombus. This way, math teachers can help their students find out more about how different shapes are created.
Another advantage of the app is that it can help students learn mathematical formulas easily. People find it easier to understand a definition or a formula if they visualize it. In this case, the learning process can be drastically increased if an app like this is used during math classes.