What is Virtual Reality? And why does it belong in my classroom?

What is virtual reality?  Essentially it is wearable tech that immerses you in a completely different environment.  The experience requires a PC, console, or smartphone to run the app or software, and a headset which secures a display in front of your eyes.  Put on the headset, and soar off to worlds unknown–from 16th Century England, to Ancient Egypt, to outer space.  The equipment can run from the free app and inexpensive viewer known as Google Cardboard, to Oculus Rift and others that will easily run in the hundreds (or thousands) of dollars.  

So now you may be asking–what does this have to do with education?

Think of the possibilities!  Instead of being confined to the textbook, and materials written or created telling students about a place or time, you can take them there instead, allowing them to interact with their new environment, as the device moves with them through the virtual reality experience.

In the last few months and years, this phenomenon is really taking off.  So much, in fact, that Google Cardboard app downloads has soared in just the last year:

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And Google’s simple cardboard viewer?  In the two years since its release, they have shipped over 5 million units.   While virtual reality may have been primarily focused on video gaming, it is now taking the education sector by storm, and likely will continue to grow and expand in the coming years.  Time to get on board.

 

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