Thursday, December 31, 2020

Diving into VR in EDU

 Great news...

Through a couple of grants and a local sponsorship, I have 6 Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets in my science class!

Diving into #VRinEDU has been such a cool experience. I started with some sandbox time for kids the weeks before break. They were able to familiarize themselves with the Oculus Quest 2 headsets through some fun apps like Tiltbrush, First Steps, Beat Saber, Cubism, Wander, and more. We learned together, for sure! Using my iPad, I can do what is called "casting" to jump into each headsets view. So, I can see what students are seeing. We also worked on etiquette and cleaning protocol.

Students working in the hallway-

Student created artwork showing seismic waves-

Now, I'm planning our first two weeks back after break and VR is definitely on the "menu". Legit...students are working through a menu of activities that will be closing up our Earth Science unit. The areas of the menu are what you would see on a regular menu- drinks, appetizer, main dish, and dessert. Each category has activities for the students to choose from.

I used the VR app, NODA, to plan out the basics of the menu. That is one app that has some serious potential in education. It allows you to map out ideas in the VR space. You can add contributors into the map space and work together. Think of concept mapping on steroids. You build your "web" of ideas all around you. You are immersed in the your ideas.

My video of my planning-

Eventually, students will use this app. I just used it this time to build out my overall flow of the menu. Hopefully, students will find it fun to collaborate and brainstorm in the VR space.

Our activities on the menu are varied. One is using legos to build geologic columns. Another is using a stream simulation website. I have some fun painting activities for students to create door covers, a hallway mural, and some iPad graffiti for the geologic concepts of erosion, deposition, and the changing earth. There is a really cool iPad app called, Earthviewer, that shows our changing planet of the past 4 billion or so years. I also have built in time to work one on one with students based on pretest results. So, some targeted instruction can happen while students are chomping their way through the menu of activities.

In regard to using the Quest headsets, I have options for students to use them to build VR artwork for changing organisms over time in the Tiltbrush app. Students will be able to paint in key organisms in the various eras of time. 

Note- Headsets are all set up to the same Google Drive account. So, they will all be able to access the same file, and as students paint and build up the artwork, it will update for them all. Collaborative artwork in a VR space exploring various life over Earth's time.

Students will also have the option to use the Wander app to visit places around the world that highlight geologic processes. Imagine touring the world and jumping from the Grand Canyon to volcanic sites in Iceland, then exploring glaciers in Alaska! Wander is the app that is like Maps on steroids. It is amazing! Instead of just seeing a photo of sea arches, students will take a tour that allows them to BE there.

So much more planning to go, but this is why I'm looking forward to these final couple weeks of the second quarter. Mixing iPads, Legos, river simulation websites, painting murals in reality, and using some great VR software to learn will keep it exciting.