360 VR in the classroom-Kick your field trips into overdrive

Recently I was able to get ahold of a pair of 360 cardboard goggles a la Molson Canadian brand. I had a few experiences with 360 VR Glasses in the past but had never seen enough to make me want a pair myself but “Free” was the right price so I got two pairs. IMG_0518.JPG

I masked the “Molson Canadian” logo and tried it out by searching “360 VR” on YouTube which was a novelty, and I spent an hour watching rollercoasters, deep sea diving, and skydiving videos. screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-9-08-08-pmAny video with the small image of a pair of google cardboard glasses like the one right of this sentence is capable of vr 360 simply press the icon and it creates two separate images, one for each eye and creates the 3d effect.

I shared it with a few students at school.  While showing them I quickly saw how engaging the technology is, however I saw the limited videos on Youtube as more of a gimmick and they lacked the depth needed for true classroom adoption. Then I discovered Google Expedition, which uses the 360 VR capability of virtually any smartphone and Google expedition Pioneer apps .  Now these are not moving video’s like the ones you find on Youtube but there are literally hundreds of sights that you can take your classroom to with multiple viewpoints.  Each 360 panoramic is completed with a guided tour provided so that you can mention the highlights to your class.  Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 9.12.09 PM.pngEven more impressive is the ability to create a focal point for your class using arrows to guide their gaze towards a feature you would like them to pay attention to and then you can track what they are looking at. There is a great (but long) video about Google Expedition here.

The simplicity of this system is elegant, simply login as a guide with your google account then anyone who uses the app on the same wifi network can chose you as their guide.  From there you select the content and they follow along with you. Students can see the pyramids, the great wall of china, and hundreds more locations.  There are also other topics like the human body, space etc. This experience is quite immersive, students I showed were so engrossed that they nearly fell over when I showed them an underwater scene.

In addition to the Google expedition Google also offers google street view where you can see any road or attraction.  This does not allow you to guide your class or track their gaze but there is an option to create content by taking panoramas and submitting them to google, I am always in favour of students creating content and publishing it. In the future I could see this as a great addition to things like HistroyPin, where students are able to archive historical content on google streetview and to create historical accounts which can be shared with others, really the opportunities are endless.

The one limiting factor in this whole setup is the need for smartphones to run the apps in the cardboard cases.  I am hoping that there will be enough used smartphones available in our community that we can collect them and repurpose them for our needs.  Really all that is needed is a smart phone with wifi.  All of the apps are available in Android and IOS. I got the idea of using repurposed phones from Hall Davidson @HallDavidson and Dean Shareski @Shareski in a google hangout I watched years ago, but it is still relevant and worth watching, click here if you’re interested.

For more options in 360 VR try going to The Edtech Gear Guide Where you’ll find this list and more.

Consuming content is one thing but there is potential in the near future for students to create these panorama’s and 360VR video’s themselves.  Google Street View allows you to create the still Panorama’s already but there are cameras commercially available which can do the job right now. Go here to see the top 7 available now.  Some are as inexpensive as $300.00 so there is lots of potential for a school setting. Imagine the possibilities.   Contact me at @csgamble if you have any ideas or insights to share.

Where is VR Going next?  Check out Audi’s VR Sandbox to see it looks AMAZING!

 

 

 

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