Have you ever wondered what it would be like to experience virtual reality? What if it was part of every student’s learning experience? In 2014 Google created the Google Cardboard Headset, a tool for virtual reality, which is set to work with Android phones and special apps. This means instead of filming, and viewing, a shot from only one angle, instead a 360 degree camera would be used to capture all angles. Thus making the viewer feel as though they were actually present in what they are seeing. It is anticipated that virtual reality could account for one-third of all media absorption within the next two years.
This year, Google is taking its cardboard virtual reality viewer, and trying to implement it as a teaching tool. The company is bringing these relatively cheap and simple tools into the classroom to take students on virtual field trips using only cardboard, mobile phones, and some software.
Known as “Expeditions”, the company, is now partnering with organizations such as The American Museum of Natural History and the Planetary Society in order to create the content for such experiences. Through these programs teachers would be given a kit for each classroom which would include viewers for each of the students as well as Android phones, a tablet, and software. The teacher will simply pull up the program on their own device and then the class can go on a trip together.
Virtual reality is an ever-growing field and the potential impact such technology could have on education is enormous. Such benefits include less expensive and more efficient forms of field trips. Students would now be able to have the immersive experience they could gain from the outside world without ever leaving the classroom. Instead of needing money year after year the programs would potentially be a one time cost to be used year after year. It would also make trips to more accessible to students living in more rural environments who may not have the opportunity to travel as far for such trips.
Such programs have the potential to be more of an immersive experience with less likelihood of distractions which often come from taking students on outside field trips. Thus more emphasis can be placed upon the material being taught during the excursion.
In addition it could offer a more interactive type of lesson plan for students who are less inclined to read and discuss as well as cater to a variety of different types of learning. It may also help to clarify difficult concepts, such as those presented in science classes, by being able to take students inside of a diagram to demonstrate what they are learning.
You can currently find the headsets for as low as $6.99 making it one of the least expensive virtual reality tools on the market. It would seem bringing virtual reality into the average classroom would make learning more accessible for a larger variety of students. However only time and test drives will see if these tools can be truly helpful or just another piece of unnecessary technology.