The VR Train
The VR train is coming. Are you ready? One of the greatest things about using technology in education is that you can take kids to places from the comfort of your own classroom. VR is about to change the game in that respect, So many companies are getting on the VR train! You are starting to see several popular ed tech brands such as Nearpod and Thinglink embrace it, before long, you will see some sort of VR platform in at least every school!
So what is VR? VR stands for virtual reality. There is also a sister term called AR or augmented reality. The difference is that VR is full emersion. To truly participate in VR, you put on a pair of glasses on and you use those glasses to go into a whole other environment. AR lays digital content over the real world. In reality, VR is the one that is closer to being ready for schools, because there are already VR platforms that can be used effectively with students. 2 years ago Google started a platform called Cardboard which allows you to use your phone as the screen and then you can drop your phone into a viewer (often made of Cardboard) to get that full emersion experience. This platform allows schools to get cheap viewers and then just use what students already have. AR on the other hand is a wild west. There are several app platforms out there that use a tablets camera to create a augmented reality experience, but the scope of that experience is limited to having a marker (something in the real world that you put your device over to start the experience). Limiting things to the marker makes the experience limited. There are several AR devices that are in the works (like Microsoft HoloLens), but they are still much further away from market.
What makes the VR reveloution close? The fact that there is already a major player in town with a platform that is easy to adopt if you have the right tools. That player: Google. As long as you have access to a mobile device, Google Cardboard makes it very easy to bring VR to the classroom. Really, all students need is the street view app and a viewer.
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