It started with an email...
"I've been interested in Google expeditions since I learned about it last year. Now that it's open, can we look into getting some Google cardboard sets? Would love to do some actual 'virtual' field trips, and I think other teachers would too."
My first stop on this rollercoaster ride of virtual reality was to see how we could get Google Cardboard to Hong Kong. The reality is with Amazon being pretty open and an awesome procurement team we were able to get the Viewmaster viewers within the fist semester.
But let's move back a little bit...
How do you integrate smart phone based virtual reality when the Parent Association DOES NOT want their middle school students using their own phones in the school?
I looked over the kits that are available from Best Buy and used this as a model for what we were going to need. To start off a test kit for 10 students and a teacher device. Ultimately we have build a kit that has:
Let's travel the world!
Once the kits were up and running I spent a few months getting teachers okay with the idea of using Virtual Reality in their lessons. I held voluntary expeditions where I took teachers to places that were related to their subjects, (Ocean scenes, body systems, historical sites). Ultimately, teachers were very excited about the possibility of using the VR in their class.
How is it being used?
So far, when I have come into a classroom with the VR machines we are doing a mix of pre-learning, lesson enhancement or post unit review. This allows students to gain a picture of the land, scene or image that they will be studying. 6th grade science traveled on a "magic school bus" type expedition through both the digestive and respiratory system. This provided the students who were going to be researching and presenting on these systems an additional viewpoint of understanding. This was greatly enhanced by the addition of excrement in the lower intestine that caused some students to laugh and others to look a little green.
Where are we headed?
My goal for this semester is really 2 areas:
1. Elementary integration-helping the ES teachers see the HUGE potential in this tool for them.
2. High School integration-Cracking into HS classes that could use an infusion of VR.
Ultimately, my goal is to make learning more effective and innovative. When that happens, VR or not, we are all good!
Taylor currently serves as a Coordinator of Innovative Learning for a mid-sized school district in Texas. He is a speaker, writer, and coach for all who are in conflict with the status quo.