A little girl just experienced her first Virtual Reality Lesson

This blog: What Should VR Look Like In A Classroom? is the final blog in a three blog series on Upscaling A Science Lesson by using virtual reality in the classroom which provides readers what aspects to consider when thinking about purchasing VR. The second blog, What Are The Best Practices For Using Virtual Reality in the Classroomcovers the best practices and some of the affordable VR headsets that educators can utilize in their classrooms.

Readers will receive a few factors to consider in their classroom, while the last half shares the first experience of a class who had never been in a VR lab. These are things that I thought when I was putting our lab together. Instead, you learn from my mistakes rather than recreate it and only get frustrated.

Teach The Way You Want to Be Taught

It’s that simple. Be innovative, Be daring, and, most important, don’t make it ordinary.

Research now emphasizes the importance of student-centered activities, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teachers are tasked with finding engaging and impactful lessons and activities that will make students excited to learn more about STEM concepts. I’m so glad VR is now becoming affordable for schools to purchase and use in classes where teachers should prepare for this new technology because it will change the way you view education!

What are the resources of using virtual reality in the classroom?

It’s one of the first things that popped up in my mind.

There are countless apps already on the market and more on the way. Depending on the features, the apps will vary the price. Some prices will be free, while others may cost a few dollars.

When considering which apps to purchase, include the memory it holds and the constant updates received from companies. Depending on which device the school chooses, some VR goggles may slow down or even freeze up if the storage is nearing full capacity. (Apps downloaded from an account such as Oculus, Apple, or Google’s Play Store). I strongly recommend that you update your computer’s drivers as well when you get an update.

Many companies develop software that can be uploaded and run using VR headsets. One such example that we’re working on is Flight Sim X software. 

When it runs on a PC, users get the 2D perspective, but when integrated into the Oculus, users get the 3D experience. 

Talk about a game-changer!

Resources for Educators in Using Virtual Reality in the Classroom

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) provides thousands of members invaluable information on how to accelerate the integration of technology into education. In the article, 25 Ways Resources for Bringing AR & VR to the classroom, ISTE informs readers the many ways that educators can bring VR into the class (Snelling, 2018).

Classvr.com provides users over 500 lesson plans and scenarios for teachers at all levels.  Ferrlazo (2017) published a blog on A Beginning List of the Best Resources On Virtual Reality In Education, where he provides a plethora of information for readers to see and try out for themselves. Google(n.d.) has its own Augmented and Virtual Reality section which Brings Your

Lessons to Life with Expeditions. Virtual Reality for Education is another trove of priceless information on how to implement VR in classes (VR Resources, 2019).

What Would VR Look Like In A Classroom?

The best part of this answer is it’s up to you to decide on what it should look like and what students should experience.

For me, I wanted something that would blow the kids away and make the lesson fun.

This week I got to try our VR Lab with a group of students.

One would think that I would pick an honor or Advanced Placement class, right?

Nope – I did the opposite.

I challenged myself by doing the first lab experience with Kindergarten students.

Some of you may think I’m crazy…and you’re right. 

I’m in educator!

After taking a couple of months setting it up, preparing, and troubleshooting, we got it set up. 

There were two groups of 20 kindergarten students slowly entering the room.

Asking them to circle me, I explained to them what was about to happen.

Looking at everyone, their energy instantly sparked.

I asked them if they ever felt dizzy before, to which many said yes. Here I told the class if they experienced this feeling in the lesson, they should take off the goggles, close their eyes, and count to three.

From there, I told them how to place the goggles on their heads and use the Velcro straps to tighten them up.

Once they had their headsets on, I informed them about the importance of staying in the blue circle. (The blue circle is where the sensors can detect the controllers and user movements).

At this point, I told them to go to a station and place their goggles on their headsets.

One by one, they walk (yes, they walked) to the stations.

Waiting patiently, the adults walk up to the station and start the program.

Here’s where I wish I recorded the session.  

At first, it was like a pin drop, but then laughter and enthusiasm roared.

One by one, they finished and took off their goggles.

And as you can tell in the photo of the girl (above), their faces were priceless.

The class had just learned about the history of Aviation, where it came to life.

This is what teaching and learning should be like every day.

Conclusion

Research has shown that use of virtual reality in the classroom can benefit many from those who utilize them. With VR and AR now available, educators can now differentiate the way they can teach the material.

The benefits of using VR far outweigh those who do not use them. It is all up to the instructors to understand the places in the curriculum where VR can enhance learning (Wentworth, 2018). It’s a win-win, especially for special needs students and collaborating teachers and with more people using the Internet now more than ever, educators must take effort and make their lessons more interactive.

As educators, it is up to us to take charge of making this 3D world a reality for our students. If we ignore this opportunity, it will not only limit the skill sets students can develop but also hinder students’ transition into a confident and competent employee.

With the future of work shifting towards workforce development in VR, job centers, colleges, and industries are already planning to integrate this new technology into their training.

My challenge to you is this —get the money and support to get VR in the classroom because when you have it ready to go, your students will be prepared for the future of work and opportunities beyond the horizon. 

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