Five (non-gimmicky) Ways to Integrate Virtual Reality Into Your Classroom Today
By Steve Grubbs
Virtual reality can be gimmicky and a fun parlor trick, or it can be an amazingly impactful learning tool that literally changes the lives of students. There’s plenty of the former out there, but here are five of the latter that you can integrate into your learning plan today.
ONE: Animal Dissection
Using Carolina Biological’s world-leading animal dissection curriculum, students can dissect a frog, cat, fetal pig, dogfish or a host of organs. This is a use case that makes sense due to students who refuse (and are protected by state laws) to dissect actual animals as well as the cost of actual specimens. With virtual reality curriculum, you can buy it once and use it over and over; no smell, no decay and an actual hologram teacher (the fabulous and award-winning Wendy Martin) who walks student through the process.
Of course, it sort of begs the question, why dissect an animal when you can dissect a human in virtual reality. Well, Wendy’s comparative anatomy class creates an advanced learning that is superb.
Hardware needed: Ideally a robust headset like HP’s Reverb 2 for crystal clear graphics, but headsets with less robust graphics like the Oculus Quest, Pico Neo 2 and Vive Focus Plus will also work nicely.
TWO: The History of American Civil Rights
Imagine standing on the steps of the school that Ruby Bridges marched up as New Orleans was integrated for the first time; or at the bus stop where Rosa Parks stood as she was escorted off the bus. These are just two of the virtual reality field trips students can take as they learn about the journey for civil rights in the United States. Ruby Bridges, the Little Rock Nine, Martin Luther King, Black Wall Street in Tulsa, George Washington Carver and Rosa Parks are a few of the stories that are told in our VR field trips where students can leave their desk and visit the people and the places where the Civil Rights movement was earned.
Hardware needed: Phone, computer, virtual reality headset of any type.
THREE: Art History
Students can learn about art history and then — ideally, working in a team of two or three — curate their own art exhibit complete with descriptions and exhibit tour guide. In the amazing art history museum provided on the VictoryXR campus, students can choose easels, wall displays as well as the world’s greatest pieces of art. Once their exhibit is ready to be shown to the public, they can welcome parents or guests in via the computer screen while they act as tour guide with a virtual reality headset on. It’s an amazing way to provide an immersive experience while allowing parents to join without the friction point of a VR headset.
Hardware needed: a 6DOF virtual reality headset like the Oculus Quest, HP Reverb, Vive Focus Plus, Pico Neo 2 and for parents, a computer screen.
FOUR: The Destruction of Pompeii
Show a movie that recreates the volanic destruction of Pompeii on a giant screen in a perfectly recreated outdoor coliseum from the City of Pompeii. Let me be more clear, students sit in the Pompeii coliseum while watching a movie about the destruction of the city and then participate in a discussion of this amazing an terrible moment in history. This is made possible by our friends at EngageVR as well as a very realistic film made in Australia about the volcano that erupted more than a thousand years ago.
Hardware needed: a classroom set of virtual reality headsets.
FIVE: Anthropological Dig on Dinosaur Island
Okay, if I had not added the word, ‘anthropological’, then this one might have bordered on gimmicky, but hey, what student wouldn’t fall in love with anthropology when their teacher puts on a virtual reality headset and takes the class to the VXR Dinosaur Island.
On the island, students can meander about among dinosaurs and wooly mammoths on the colder side. At the same time, they can experience the thrill of the dig as they search for the bones of a prehistoric beast. There is definitely some time collapsing on the island to allow for learning over spans of millions of years, but it definitely has the potential to create a deep love of history and anthropology in the lives of those who experience it.
Hardware needed: computer or VR headset.
Resources to learn more:
Wendy’s comparative anatomy class (8-week course): https://victoryvr.myshopify.com/collections/victoryxr-academy/products/victoryxr-academy-8-weeks-of-science-classes-with-wendy-martin
VictoryXR Campus: https://VictoryXR.com
EngageVR learning: https://engagevr.io
Oculus Quest: https://Oculus.com
Vive Focus Plus:
Pico Neo 2:
Steve Grubbs is the founder and CEO of VictoryXR, the world’s leading virtual and augmented reality curriculum company. Steve is a graduate of the University of Iowa Law School and served as chairman of the education committee in the Iowa House of Representatives. He also coached high school debate for ten years, leading teams to the national tournament every year.