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What’s New in Virtual Reality

The possibilities are endless with these 4 virtual reality programs that transform the walls of the classroom into the windows of the world.

Gone are the days of straight rows and staring at a chalkboard. Education is evolving along with the rest of the world as new technology, movements, and mindsets mold a future generation with occupations and opportunities that at one time probably seemed more befitting for a science fiction plot than a classroom. By exploring and incorporating the newest technological aspects available to the classroom, teachers give students the chance to boldly go on new adventures and educational pathways to broaden their horizons. One such pathway is that of virtual reality, and these 4 programs designed for the classroom allow students to explore and learn in unique and engaging ways.

Agent Cayley — Looking to engage students with the ins and outs of Algebra I, but not sure how to get started? Agent Cayley from SynapticSwitch holds the key. This virtual reality app has the potential to cover the entire CCSS Algebra I curriculum while students solve a murder mystery in a virtual world. The mystery can only be solved by cracking the secret codes from a series of clues left by the suspect. These codes just happen to take on the form of mathematical concepts, like the linear equations and matrix operations covered in Episode 1. This free app is a newcomer, and additional episodes to cover more of the curriculum are still under construction.

Apollo 11 — The latest, award-winning production from Immersive VR Education is Apollo 11. This documentary film is like no other rendition previously created of the lunar mission. Original audio and video archives are infused with detailed recreations of the spacecraft and settings encountered. The VR component allows viewers to immerse themselves in the events as they take over the controls to fly and land, explore the Moon, conduct lunar experiments, and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. Students will walk away from the VR experience of Apollo 11 with a deeper sense of the intricacies involved in this historical mission. The newly created Lecture VR programs offered by Immersive are also something to keep on the radar for VR enthusiasts!

Google Expeditions — The click-and-see viewfinders many remember from childhood have gotten a virtual reality facelift with a technology uplift. Yet another boon for Google as they put a stamp on education is Google Expeditions. With an app, cardboard viewers, devices, and a love of adventure, Google Expeditions turns teachers into tour guides as they lead students far beyond the walls of the classroom via virtual reality. The cardboard viewfinders allow students to connect devices and begin their journeys of discovery in Arctic waters, Arabian deserts, or Amazonian rainforests. Rather than glancing at images from a textbook or on a computer screen, students are able to explore these foreign environments with their teachers as guides and gain a more realistic and impactful understanding of areas and locations that had previously seemed remote and inaccessible.

Nearpod VR — With the virtual reality lessons available from Nearpod, teachers can share content and concepts with students that imbed virtual reality alongside readings, research, assessments, etc. Virtual reality becomes a single and highly engaging aspect of a much larger learning adventure. Nearpod offers many pre-made lessons at a variety of grade levels, and the tools to create your own lessons with virtual reality components are also available. Teachers can add links, questions, and various other highlights and checkpoints to ensure students get the most out of their virtual field trips.

These 4 resources in the field of virtual reality offer new ways to explore learning with students. Whether virtual reality is being used to share history, add intrigue to problem solving, or explore distant locations, these journeys that happen within the classroom walls allow students to view content and curriculum in fresh and engaging ways. When it comes to reaching new levels of student engagement, checking out What’s New in Virtual Reality will get you there.

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