Immersive technology, and especially the VR headset, is taking the world by storm. Although Virtual Reality is anything but new technology, many industries turn their attention towards it. Gaming and entertainment may be the leaders, but the education sector is also expected to see a significant impact.
Virtual Reality technology allows students to get fully immersed in a subject. A VR headset might be funny-looking for those who don’t wear it, but once you put it on, the world is different. The real world, which is full of real interruptions, can be completely blocked with a VR headset. All is left is the learner and what is being learned.
This is the main reason why immersive technology has caught the attention of the education world lately. This, and also the fact that it’s becoming more accessible. (Google Cardboard can be purchased for just a few dollars, while Samsung Gear for around 100 dollars.)
VR technology helps teachers create incredible learning experiences for their students — experiences that will stick to their brain faster and for a longer time than traditional and otherwise boring lectures. Teachers that embrace virtual reality and use it in their classrooms can take their students on amazing journeys on various parts of the globe, at different times, on the Moon, on the bottom of an ocean and even inside the human body.
How? By using VR apps, of course.
5 VR apps that can be used in the classroom
The following apps are available on both Google Play and the App Store, and work with all types of VR headsets — including the budget-friendly Google Cardboard. Some particularly target the education market, while others have a broader usage, without losing the “Wow!” element.
However, each of these apps gives an insight into VR’s potential in the classroom.
Google’s Expeditions app has almost 300 experiences designed with education in mind, from getting up close with historical landmarks to exploring the International Space Station, from diving underwater along sharks to visiting national Parks all over the globe.
Teaches therefore can bring their lessons to life and take their students in these virtual trips. Google’s expeditions are collections of linked VR content and supporting materials that can be used alongside the existing curriculum, or integrated with it.
If words are not enough, perhaps the sparkle in these kids’ eyes will make a better case for giving Google Expeditions a try:
This app has been created exclusively for the Google Cardboard VR headset. It is designed to help children understand what’s inside the human body and how everything works, by letting them play doctors in a safe immersive environment.
The part the apps designers are most proud of is the fact users can opt for an X-ray vision to see inside the bodies of the cartoon characters and diagnose their illnesses. All activities happen in a fun, informative way.
If you yourself are not a Biology teacher, pass this video to your colleagues. Maybe they’ll find it and the app useful for their classroom activities:
Now we’ll move on to Chemistry teachers. The Chemistry VR app takes chemistry on a whole new level by putting all elements of the Mendeleev table in the context of an escape the room game.
Students are encouraged to understand the periodic table and how chemicals work by solving various puzzles that require different elements to be mixed together. Once they solve a chemistry puzzle they have to put their brains to work to solve another one if they want to progress through the game.
Check out this video of the app, or better yet, download it:
VR Solar System
This app makes its users feel like astronauts and embark on a virtual reality journey through space in our solar system. The Earth, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Venus, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto are all waiting to be visited.
One interesting thing about VR Solar System is that it is available in 10 languages, including Spanish and Russian. So feel free to share it with your international teaching friends.
The following video offers a preview of the amazing Virtual Reality experience in outer space this app has to offer:
This app offers a growing collection of dynamic 360° video experiences, like exclusive clips from behind-the-scenes of various shows, incredible adventures that could be too risky to perform in real life and simply amazing views of places on our planet you didn’t know even existed.
Discovery VR a rather general app, but it’s awesome nonetheless. If you dig deeper, you’ll definitely find a 360° video that you could use for a class activity.
Here’s an amazing video about what it’s like to see sounds, or better understand what synesthesia means:
Over to you
What do you think, as an educator about the potential VR can bring in the modern classroom? Do you include VR apps in your instruction? If not, are you considering this for the future, or you rather see it as just a fad?
Do share your opinions in the comments section below!