Is virtual reality teaching the future of education?

Is virtual reality teaching the future of education?

Teaching is fairly conservative in nature, and that can be very sensible. Teaching professionals do not simply want to subject children to the latest trends, which may not work well in the long term, or may even be harmful to a child with strong physical and psychological development.

Yet a lot has changed in recent years. The black chalkboards have been largely replaced with interactive screens, and in elementary school grateful use is made of tablets for both teachers and students.

Is virtual reality teaching the future of education or is this just a hype that will fly over? And what is perhaps even more important; Can virtual reality be dangerous for children in education?

VR; dangerous or not?

Let’s start with the main question; are VR headsets dangerous for children to use? Most manufacturers take 12 to 13 years as the minimum age for using VR headset for teaching. This is based on the development of the brain and the distance of the eyes. Yet VR lessons are indeed given to children in primary school.

Especially for that target group, simple headset without headband are used, which means that the device can be removed immediately. The headsets are also in demand without spatial positioning, which limit freedom of movement, making use safer.

The duration of use is limited to a few minutes per session, with a lot of variety to prevent damage to the eyes and brain. At present, the greatest danger of tripping in the classroom is …

Is VR the future for teaching?

Of course we cannot look into the future, but it is possible to look at the current situation and discover trends in it. Applications such as Google Expeditions bring a class to the other side of the world, or to the bottom of the sea.

It is possible to virtually walk through the house where Anne Frank had to hide, you can also see Rembrandt van Rijn at work while painting The Night Watch. The world is getting closer, history is coming back to life. And that is just the beginning of virtual reality teaching.

Maurice de Hond’s first iPad school became a flop, but tablets are now used at every teaching institution. Not as the only learning tool, but as a support tool within a complete learning environment.

It seems that virtual reality teaching will take such a position, an additional instrument that offers teachers more opportunities to inform and stimulate students.

Added value of VR teaching

Added value of VR teaching

New developments in teaching always follow each other at a rapid pace. Virtual reality (VR) is also increasingly becoming a place in school. As a teacher you can ask yourself what the added value of this technique is. Why would you use VR in the classroom? Is it worth the investment? And what can TeachVR mean for teachers? In this blog we will tell you everything about it.

Added value of virtual reality teaching

Impressive experiences

Virtual reality can be applied well at school as a form of experiential teaching. Pupils often respond very enthusiastically and with astonishment at their first VR experience.

As a teacher you therefore hardly have to put any effort into the enthusiasm and the attention of your students, because using VR in the classroom is almost automatic. A lifelike, almost tangible experience, such as a walk through a refugee camp, provides an impressive lesson, the material of which lingers.

Travel to the unknown

In addition, VR makes it possible to travel with the entire class to places that would otherwise be unreachable. Consider for example a tour of the International Space Station, a dive to the coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef or a trip along the Great Wall of China.

Of course you can show images or videos of this as a teacher, but that is not comparable to the experience that VR can offer. In addition, not only unreachable places, but also unreachable times become accessible with VR. Together with the teacher, students step into a time machine to be surrounded by dinosaurs or to look around Ancient Egypt.

Spatial awareness

VR can also be a good way to provide insight into 3D processes and objects. For many students, the translation of 2D pictures and films into three-dimensional reality is a stumbling block in which the use of VR in the classroom can help.

For example, students gain insight into the anatomy of the human body, the structure of cells and molecules, mathematical figures or the construction of a car. Difficult terms and complicated curriculum materials can be clarified in a fun way with virtual reality.

21st century skills

Finally, VR teaching can be used to teach students how to use a new technique that is likely to play an increasingly important role in daily life. With TeachVR, students can create their own VR experiences.

Benefits of TeachVR

If you look for VR material online, you will discover that quite some material is now available. Unfortunately, this is often not suitable for use education. It is largely intended for entertainment rather than teaching, it is often in English and the connection with the curriculum is often lacking.

To prevent teachers from having to make their way through this jungle of VR material, the online platform of TeachVR provides an overview of VR lessons that are suitable for primary education, secondary education and Higher education.

All lessons at TeachVR are offered in the language you specify. With the search function you can easily search by subject and grade, and find the VR lesson that you are looking for.

Another major advantage of TeachVR is that you, as a teacher, have control off the content. Existing VR apps usually offer fixed content that you cannot change. With the TeachVR platform teachers can adapt existing lessons to their own preferences, compile lessons from existing material or create their own lessons.

Moreover, the TeachVR platform offers all kinds of useful functions for teaching. In this way you as a teacher can centrally control the lesson and determine what the students see on their VR headsets. Teachers can use this to steer the class in the right direction, for example by pointing out certain things in the VR world.

This is in contrast to individual VR apps where students are individually busy with their VR experience and it is more difficult to do something with this in class. In addition, TeachVR has put together the education kit especially for the use of virtual reality in education.

The education kit consists of VR headset and a 360-degree camera, packed in a safe storage case with charging point and information so that you have everything to get started in the classroom with VR.

Do you still have doubts about the added value of virtual reality teaching? Feel free to contact us.

VR headsets for teaching

VR headset for teaching

Virtual reality (VR) offers more and more opportunities for teaching. To experience VR, you use VR glasses. This makes it feel like you’re in a different world.

The glasses show you images and in the meantime you no longer see anything of your real environment. You can look around 360 degrees and sometimes even manipulate and move objects through the VR world.

There are different types of VR headset on the market. With most of these you use your own smartphone, which you place in the glasses. You download a VR app, such as that from TeachVR, and then look through the lenses of the glasses at the screen of your phone.

In addition, there are glasses that you connect to a (game) computer. These often offer a VR experience of higher quality, but are therefore also somewhat more expensive. Finally, there are independent (standalone) VR glasses that you don’t have to connect to anything because they have a built-in computer.

If you are not yet familiar with the VR world, it can be difficult to determine which VR glasses can best be used in the classroom. That is why we have listed a number of commonly used VR glasses here.

Cardboard VR glasses

The simplest VR glasses are cardboard glasses which you can place your smartphone. In 2014, Google brought such glasses to the market: Google Cardboard. With these glasses you have a simple stationary VR experience. This means that the system responds to your head movements when you look around, but it is not possible to walk around or look around the VR world.

Similar cardboard glasses can be ordered through TeachVR for use at school. With a price of € 4.50 per pair of glasses and the fact that students can use their own smartphone, cardboard glasses are very accessible for a first introduction to virtual reality in the classroom.

Plastic VR headset

Since the Google Cardboard, various variants of hard plastic have appeared, such as the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Daydream. Also with these VR glasses you have a stationary VR experience and you use your own smartphone, but these glasses have a longer lifespan than the cardboard version. Something that certainly offers advantages when you want to use virtual reality in education.

In addition, these VR glasses are more comfortable than the cardboard version and they usually offer higher image quality because the lenses are of better quality and you can adjust them. The benefits are also reflected in a slightly higher price, which is between € 30 and € 75. A similar pair of hard plastic glasses, the Gray Owl, is available through TeachVR for € 12.50.

Oculus Go

Also available via TeachVR is the Oculus Go, an independent (standalone) VR glasses that was released in 2018. All the technology needed for the VR experience is built into the glasses, so you no longer need a smartphone. You also have a stationary VR experience with the Oculus Go. What is different is that the Oculus Go comes with a small controller with which you can point things in the VR world.

In terms of image quality, there is no huge improvement compared to glasses like the Gray Owl, but the ease of use is a lot better. The Oculus Go is also easier to use compared to more advanced glasses. An Oculus Go costs € 229 and can not only be ordered separately, but can also be ordered as an option in the education kit.

Room-scale VR: Oculus Rift and HTC Vive

In addition to the above VR glasses, there are more expensive, more advanced glasses that you must connect to a powerful computer. A major advantage of this is the increased image quality.

In addition, these glasses also sometimes make room-scale VR possible, whereby you not only look around the VR world, but can also interact with it. Sensors in the room ensure that by walking around in the real world you can also walk around in the VR world and controllers can grab and manipulate objects.

Examples of such glasses are the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which are available from € 500 to € 600. However, the computer with a powerful graphic card that is required for these VR glasses also costs more than € 1000. Due to the technical requirements and the price tag, room-scale VR glasses will not be easily recommended for school VR education.

Which VR headset are the most suitable for teaching?

Have you never used virtual reality in the classroom before and are you curious about the possibilities? Then the cardboard VR glasses are very suitable for a first introduction. If you want more robust headsets with a higher image quality, then choose VR glasses made of hard plastic. The plastic VR headset last longer and are therefore a good, affordable upgrade to the cardboard version.

If you do not want to be dependent on smartphones when working with VR in the classroom, the Oculus GO is the best choice. The image quality is good and the ease of use is a lot higher than the cheaper VR glasses.

For the use of virtual reality teaching, room-scale VR headset are the least suitable because of the computer requirements. The fact that you have to set up a space specifically for VR and the price. But if you have to set up a space specifically for VR and the price want to offer your students the ultimate VR experience , you’re in the right place with these VR headset.

Need help choosing VR glasses for your school? Then contact us.

VR for schools

VR for schools

VR for schools

Although there is often talk of a “virtual world”, it is usually not as virtual as we are imagined. A 360 video is actually not virtual at all, it is just a performance that seems lifelike. It is as if you are in the middle of it as a viewer, often even in 3D with a sense of depth which increases the immersion even further.

Most topics of virtual reality apps are very close to reality, this applies to passive presentations that you experience and certainly also to interactive VR apps that challenge the user to get to work themselves. VR for schools will play an increasing role in the coming years, so be prepared for this new reality.

Difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

With terms such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and even Mixed Reality, it is not always clear what it is about. That’s okay, even experts can’t agree where the line is. Put very simply, VR stands for a completely virtual world around you where the actual environment is no longer visible.

We speak of AR for objects that are projected for our normal vision, sometimes seamlessly integrated with the environment. Mixed Reality is a mixed bag of techniques and products where the definition is subject to considerable interpretation.

Because virtual reality came onto the market earlier, the development here is also a lot further, which is certainly an advantage for schools at VR.

Get started with virtual reality

Watching a 360 video can have a big impact on a student, an interactive presentation such as a game or virtual tour takes you further into the virtual world. With productivity apps you can really inspire the students to create something new, which appeals enormously to the target group.

Take Oculus Quill or Google Tilt Brush for example, these are two VR drawing packages that let you draw in three dimensions. With the space around you as a canvas everything is possible, besides a creative expression it is also a good exercise in spatial thinking.

Oculus Medium is even a 3D modeling package, a virtual pot with clay that offers the student unlimited possibilities.

Free VR for schools

The main disadvantage that inhibits the use of VR in schools is the price of hardware and software. An Oculus Rift or HTC Vive including PC quickly costs several thousand euros including a handful of software packages to use in the classroom. In addition, the teacher must first follow a course to use this equipment.

Fortunately, there are many cheaper ways to introduce teaching virtual reality in the classroom. For example, there are cardboard smartphone holders that transform a mobile phone into VR glasses.

Quite a lot of free apps can also be downloaded where the quality sometimes leaves to be desired. Among the cheaper options, the 360 ​​videos in particular are worth the effort. You can view it for free on YouTube.

Affordable VR for schools

There is another option between free and (relatively) expensive and those are the all-in-one VR glasses. These are very simply put smartphones in a holder, but without telephone functionality. These devices offer an excellent price / quality ratio, although there are differences.

For 100 to 1000 euros you have the Chinese import gadgets with limited functionality and lifespan, from around 250 euros you can spend a lot more pleasantly in virtual reality with an Oculus GO. The Oculus Quest offers around 500 euros a fully spatial and yet wireless experience.

The Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR are cheap if you already have a suitable smartphone. The software for the portable VR glasses often costs just a few euros or can even be used completely free of charge.

VR for teaching

VR for teaching

You can go to the Rijksmuseum with the whole class to see De Nachtwacht. For many teachers is it an impressive experience, for most students it is just a trip to Amsterdam that they would rather spend in a coffee shop or the “Red Light District”. Show them in advance the official VR app from the Rijksmuseum about the creation of this famous painting, and they will look at the result with much more attention.

In this 360 video you are personally addressed by Rembrandt van Rijn, and you discover that the clients were not at all satisfied with the dark scene that Rembrandt painted at the time. The story behind the painting is at least as interesting as the result. VR teaching goes beyond learning, it allows the students to experience the world in a completely new way.

Not only seeing but also experiencing

The Rembrandt app is a good example of the impact that 360 video has on the viewer. In a regular documentary about the creation of De Nachtwacht you can learn everything about the technique, the brush strokes and the people on the canvas. In the video you seem to be in the studio yourself, Rembrandt even gives you a compliment about your appearance. The 3D display in VR glasses completes the experience.

Interactive experiences arouse emotions

A completely different VR app for learning purposes is the app of the Anne Frank house. We all know the story of the girl who had to hide behind the walls of a canal house in Amsterdam, but to walk around there yourself is an experience that you will not forget.

In contrast to the video about Rembrandt van Rijn, the tour through the Anne Frank house is an interactive presentation in which you can virtually walk through the location. In addition, excerpts from the diary are read aloud. This gives a valuable context to the book that cannot be described with conventional learning materials.

Virtual reality as a supported learning tool

During the First World War British soldiers were not allowed to write letters to the home front, they received multiple choice postcards on which they could tick their message. In this way they could prevent spy secret codes in letters home.

In an impressive virtual reality app from the BBC you not only discover how this process went, you also get to see authentic scans of these cards in a three-dimensional environment.

At one point they fly with hundreds planes at the same time around the head of the spectator. These types of presentations provide support for existing teaching materials, with full color 3D images in 360 degrees of historical events that, in the most favorable case, we only know from grainy black and white photos.

VR for teaching offers limitless possibilities

Felix & Paul Studios is one of the most influential documentary producers in VR. They already showed refugees in a way that you will not forget soon.

They also portrayed NBA basketball which brought a completely different impact. Former President Obama also contributed to a documentary about America’s most beautiful forests.

In a recent production, the preparation of astronauts at NASA is followed until the launch. Standard documentaries are by definition distant, you look at a flat screen at a considerable distance from your eyes.

But when this video is wrapped around you like a sphere, and you are bombarded with images and sound from all sides, then the message comes in both ways.

Why virtual reality is unique within educational learning resources

Textbooks have a specific function, that will not change quickly. We only switch from paper to tablets. Teachers can transfer teaching material to a new generation so that the knowledge of society is maintained.

Virtual reality for teaching brings past, present and future to the classroom, and students will not only learn something new, but also create a commitment to the topic that no other medium can achieve.

Virtual Reality teaching

Virtual Reality teaching

VR teaching is an new learning resources and methods are constantly being sought to improve the transfer of information. Black chalkboards with chalk have given way to digital boards with internet connectivity, and tablets are used by students from primary school.

Although institutionalization generally do not want to use their pupils as guinea pigs, it is important to offer children education that matches their perception. They must be prepared for the future of which they will actively participate.

Now there is a lot of attention for Virtual Reality teaching, and rightly so. Not only is it a medium with a lot of potential for teaching applications, there are certainly also a number of uncertainties about the possibilities and effects on young children. Let us take a closer look at the possibilities per life phase.

Is virtual reality suitable for primary education?

A child in primary school will gain many new impressions every day. On the one hand, the young brain is able to absorb an enormous amount of new information in a very short time, and on the other hand, the brain is still developing. For example, virtual reality lenses are developed at an eye distance for adults, and young children have more difficulty distinguishing reality from fiction. The total immersion of virtual reality can therefore have undesirable side effects.

How you can use VR in primary school:

  • Use VR headsets without a headband, then a child can immediately switch off the device.
  • Always work in small groups, preferably under the supervision of an adult.
  • Limit the time in the virtual world to a few minutes per session.
  • With special software it is possible to centrally control multiple VR glasses, so the teacher can keep the presentation in his own hands.
  • Work with wireless devices to prevent problems.
  • Just turning around (3DoF) is sufficient, a fully spatial experience (6DoF) can be disorienting.

VR in secondary education is exactly in the “sweet spot”

High school students in the middle of puberty are perhaps the most challenging target group to learn something. They are open to new information, provided it is presented in a form that they have an affinity with. Then it is not surprising that virtual reality is hugely popular in high school.

These pupils are also the ideal target group in terms of teaching material; there is room for deepening subjects without the complexity required in higher education. Because this group of students often has a cell phone, it becomes easier than ever to give virtual homework.

How to use VR in high school:

  • Match the presentations with the existing teaching material.
  • Visualize geographical information or historical facts.
  • Provide suggestions for free educational apps that inspire students.
  • Stimulate creative thinking with productive VR apps

Higher education offers more options

If you offer lessons at HBO or university level, then the use of virtual reality is actually a must. This time, it is no longer a question of an attractive shell for largely well-known subject material, as is the case with the younger ages.

VR offers new opportunities for students to participate in the curriculum more than ever. Interactivity plays an important role in this, students are challenged to experience the theory in three dimensions. In this way, other “perspectives” can be viewed very literally from a different angle.

How you can use VR in higher education:

  • Step away from the microscope and virtually blow up the world.
  • Visualize complex matter with 3D models.
  • Let students work together in VR with collaborative software.
  • Involve students in the development of customized VR content.

VR learning offers different possibilities for each phase of life, when the correct implementation is applied per age category, virtual reality teaching can broaden the perspective of every student.