A Cheap & Offline Way Of Bringing Virtual Reality To The Classroom

Published by alvinauh on

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The use of Virtual Reality (VR) has been in trend for some time. While the use of equipment such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are high end and not to mention, expensive options. That being said, in today’s post, I’ll be talking about a free and offline app that can be applied in rural classrooms.

Before I begin, the purpose of this post aims to address a long-standing problem that has been plaguing teachers. Most governments requiring the use of technology with at times limited support. Limited support, in this case, would include the lack of infrastructure and finances to support the use of technology in the classroom. With that, the burden falls on the teacher to use technology in the classroom. As such, I believe apps like ‘Sites in VR’ and tools like Google Cardboard are the future.

Google Cardboard

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I first discovered Google Cardboard when I was looking to bring VR into the classroom. When the likes of Oculus Rift and  HTC Vive launched, I was sold with the potential of VR in the classroom. The problem was with funding, I could not get my department to buy me an Oculus Rift nor a PC that could support it. As such, I had to look for cheaper options in the form of Google Cardboard.

Google Cardboard costs about 5 dollars from where I’m from. Funding was easily approved and within a week, I received 30 Google Cardboards for my project. I suppose that was easier to swallow for my boss as compared to asking for 30 units of Oculus Rift.

I first used Google Cardboard in a classroom of students who speak English as a second language. In this class, getting them to speak or write in English is a  massive challenge. I managed to get 30 of my teacher trainees to lend me their smartphones. Along with Google Cardboard and Google Street view installed on those phones, the students in the classroom started using English.

The use of Google Cardboard and street view allowed the students to visit any site on earth. In my opinion, this has brought about a sense of novelty and encouraged them to be more participative in the classroom.

But what if we don’t have any internet connection in the classroom?

Sites In VR

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I think that as time passes, more and more offline applications being added. One of these apps is ‘Sites in VR’. This application is similar in many ways with Google Street View, but what sets this apart is the ability to download locations and ‘sites’ to be used offline. Sites in this case could be an area of interest in a country or even the moon.

With this, it allows the students to explore various areas that they otherwise won’t be able to. Of course, some would argue that the use of a video would have a similar function. The thing is, with the use of VR, this allows for an interactive experience to explore places. This also helps catalyze the students’ creativity and encourages them to express themselves more.

Conclusion

I hope this post opens up a few cool tools that you can implement in the classroom. If you are in an area with weak and poor internet connection, the use of Google Cardboard and Sites in VR will be an excellent edition to your list of possible tools to use in the classroom.