AR and VR in the Classroom
Post in News by Victoria Sciortino on 17th October 2019
According to ISTE’s “8 Hot Edtech Trends,” augmented reality and virtual reality (AR and VR) are two of the hottest trends in edtech. But how do you know if AR or VR are right for your classroom?
AR or VR in the classroom?
First you need to determine which technology would best support your lesson.
VR gives students the opportunity to visualize and experience an environment without the logistics and cost of a field trip. If you’re an American History teacher, transport your students to historic Philadelphia! Have them walk around the Liberty Bell or through Independence Hall. Or if you’re a Marine Biology teacher, have your students discover the wonders of a coral reef. With VR, they’ll be immersed into a space enabling them to explore its surroundings.
With AR you have ability to hold or manipulate objects in your hand. The benefit of using AR in the classroom is having the ability to turn concepts and 2D objects to 3D interactive models right in front of you. Have your students create a 3D design file and view the design in front of them like a hologram. From here, they can manipulate or edit the file as they please. Biology students can dive into a human cell and learn about its components.
Mixed Reality combines the technology of both AR and VR. According to Forbes, Mixed Reality “goes a step beyond augmented reality (AR) because users can interact in real-time with virtual objects that are places within the real world”. Instead of dissecting a frog, let your students dissect a virtual frog. Mixed Reality products are a wonderful asset for programs with a niche focus. For example, an automotive training school can benefit from Mixed Reality by allowing students to explore parts of a car before entering a mechanic shop. Nursing students can interact with virtual patients before entering the field.
AR, VR, and Mixed Reality create endless opportunities for learning!
Budgeting for AR/VR
The Oculus Go is one of the most popular VR solutions out there, but it’s cost makes it difficult for many schools to allocate the funding to finance such a high-price tool. Oculus Go was made for the consumer and gaming markets, so it does not have the features that educators are looking for, such as classroom and content management and STEM activities that align with education standards.
An alternative VR solution who focuses on enhancing education in the classroom is Veative. The multi-award-winning solution (“Best in Show” at ISTE) has key features, such as classroom and content management. With Veative, educators can control which lessons students experience, plus you’ll be able to track student progress. Veative has a VR education platform that has curriculum aligned standard activities made by educators. Subjects range from physics to biology to math to language learning. The cost of this all-in-one solution can be a factor depending on your budget.
zSpace is a mixed reality product that combines augmented and virtual realities to “create lifelike experiences that are immersive and interactive.” Both the zSpace laptop and zSpace All-in-One (AIO) allow students to engage in different educational applications that cover topics ranging from life sciences to welding and automotive repair. Using the tracking eyewear and stylus, students manipulate their perspective of the object by moving their heads and can manipulate and dissect objects using the stylus. As an added bonus, there are a ton of educational guides and resources found on zSpace’s website—for free!
There are low-cost AR/VR tools in the education market that you can bring into the classroom that will make learning fun and exciting. The AR and VR tools from Merge are affordable, durable and easy to use. Empower active learning with the Merge Cube or headset along with Merge compatible apps to integrate with your lessons. With its low-price point and curriculum-aligned content, Merge is a fantastic way to introduce students and teachers to AR technology. Students can hold and manipulate objects in their hands! Learning about the solar system? With the Merge Cube and the Merge Explorer app, students can hold the solar system in their hands! Tap on the different planets to learn more about them! Upload 3D designs to the Merge app, Object Viewer, and view your files before you print, saving time and filament! The tools from Merge make learning fun and cost-effective with its endless possibilities. Each of these options offer a unique way to launch AR or VR in the classroom.
Professional Development for AR/VR
Online Resources for learning about AR/VR
There are numerous articles and blogs online on websites such as, edtechmagazine.com, www.edutopia.org, and EdSurge.com that cover and discuss products, studies, surveys, and opinions on AR, VR, and Mixed Reality. Jaime Donally is a technology enthusiast and AR/VR advocate who is continuously uploading content on her website, arvrinedu.com, written a book called Learning Transported, and writing articles on edtech platforms: edtechmagazine.com and EdSurge.com.
Attending a conference like ISTE, will allow you to see and interact with new technologies on the market. This allows you to have discussions about current edtech trends and best practices with other educators. Scheduled workshops are available to learn more about a product or edtech topic.
Lastly, for PD that keeps educators up to date on products, best practices, tips & tricks, etc. Our Professional Development Specialists from OTIS for educators has a MERGE Basics video describing what MERGE is and how to incorporate it in your classroom.