What should you ask before buying a virtual reality education bundle? This checklist will help you ask the right questions.
A Comprehensive Virtual Reality Learning Solution
In order for a virtual reality deployment into a school system to be successful, it needs to embrace all — or most — of the following features:
- Professional development for instructors
- Synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities using virtual reality
- A digital twin campus and fully immersive 3D classrooms
- A large catalog of 3D models and objects to be used for instruction
- Simulations and simulators for hands-on learning
- The opportunity for students to become creators in a 3D world
- 360 global field trips
- Viewable through VR headsets, but also a PC or MacBook backup option
- Conformity with generally accepted accessibility standards for virtual reality
To address all of these, this proposal is provided for your consideration:
Professional Development Created by Curriculum Specialists
Through a quality Professional Development program, educators earn a Micro Certificate in Virtual Reality Education. By completing both the synchronous and asynchronous portions of atutorial series, educators receive a well-rounded understanding of VR best practices, tech tips and tricks, and the most effective and engaging ways to implement VR into your existing curriculum.
- Learn to teach in a synchronous, virtual reality classroom environment using educational assets.
- It should include three parts: The Tech Basics (Start Here!), In the Classroom, and Application of Skills.
- It should include a combination of asynchronous (single player) and synchronous (multi-player) training modules in order to provide every participant with personalized guidance and support.
- The practicum portion brings educators together with veteran VR curriculum specialists to learn classroom management, digital media controls and other essential skills.
- Preview of example PD:
Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning
Educators should have the option of pulling together a live, synchronous class, just like the real-world, or, assigning lessons in an asynchronous manner for students to complete at their own pace.
See an example of synchronous classroom learning in VR:
Digital Twin Campus & 3D Classrooms
The world of virtual reality gives us the ability to build classrooms that model what people are comfortable with, as well as fantastical learning locations previously only seen in movies or our imagination. For example, the VictoryXR biology classroom has four walls and standard science equipment, while paleontology students learn on Dinosaur Island, and astronomy students beam up to the VXR Starship while history students are stepping onto the time machine and traveling back to Selma, Alabama and the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Other classrooms may include:
- Art history museum with the world’s greatest art
- The King’s Labyrinth, a maze for learning and critical thinking
- Movie Theatre, you can almost smell the popcorn
- Chemistry lab
- Lecture Hall
- Galapagos Islands & The HMS Beagle
- Hospital room, emergency room, ambulance & clinic room
- Thomas Edison and George Washington Carver’s labs
Take a tour of some out-of-the-box classrooms:
In addition, many schools and colleges will choose to have a digital twin constructed with the fantastical classrooms appended. A digital twin is a 3D modeled replica of actual buildings on a real campus. The basic package includes 5–7 exteriors and 2–3 interiors.
See this digital twin from the University of Iowa’s campus here:
3D Models Catalog
Teaching in virtual reality requires a lot of 3D models. These models include human organs, animal organs, molecules, atoms, objects from history like the Wright Brothers flyer and Harriet Tubman’s pistol, medical equipment and the world’s most valuable framed art. In fact, the VXR library contains almost 9,000 learning 3D models for educators to introduce into a classroom. 3D models are hyper-realistic, but are static in nature. Unity and other companies have public libraries where 3D models can be purchased as well.
Simulators and Simulations
Learning spaces and 3D models need one more element to bring learning to alive: working machines, tools and organic matter that replicate their counterparts in the real world. For students learning chemistry, experiments need to replicate the real world with motion and changing dynamics at a molecular level. The same can be said for biology experiments, medical machines, drones, robots, tools, and other situations where hands-on learning means reactions need to be the same as would be experienced in real life. Static models work well in much of learning, but more advance simulations and simulators are essential for a true-to-life learning experience.
See an example here:
Global Field Trips
One of the most powerful tools in virtual reality are global 360 VR field trips. Because it is 360, a student — in a headset — can look down and see the ground, look up to see birds in the sky and look all around at the amazing surroundings. Imagine standing in the Redwood forests, the Grand Canyon or on the Great Wall of China.
At the company I helm, we have given priority to this teaching method. With over 120 global field trips, translated into four additional languages, VictoryXR gives students the luxury of traveling the world without leaving the classroom.
- Field trips are led by educators and experts, including Wendy Martin, a national award-winning science teacher and Steve Grubbs, the CEO of VictoryXR. By providing key insights and learning moments, on camera, students have learn from their ‘tour guides’ as if they had actually traveled to the location.
- English is the native language of the field trips, but they have also been dubbed into Arabic, French, German and Spanish.
- The field trips primarily focus on science and history.
- Locations include: Iceland, The Great Wall, Redwood Forests of California, a dairy farm in Iowa, Singapore Gardens, the travels of Martin Luther King, the Berlin Wall, D-Day and Normandy Beach and over 100 more locations.
- Each field trip’s length is 5–10 minutes and usually includes at least five different locations
- See a 2D preview of a 360 VR field trip here:
Students enjoy being their own creators and utilizing the 360 Field Trip student creator portal, they now have the opportunity to record their own 2D or 360 field trips and share them with classmates in virtual reality. For 360 VR field trips, shot with a standard 360 camera (see the Insta360 for example), students may upload the field trip into a databse and share with classmates in a specially created 360 viewing room. For 2D video field trips, students use the movie theatre to share their creations.
Multi-device Accessibility and Inclusion
Content should be designed so that the inclusivity is built into the content delivery. From allowing access on multiple devices, to content construction that takes into account sight and hearing limitations. Meta has developed a set of standards that developers can use as they create content for users with various accessibility concerns.
Device and Hardware Considerations
Of course, it is ideal to view and experience virtual reality content on a true VR headset. The leading device in the field is the Meta Quest 2 headset (with the Quest 3 scheduled for a relase very soon). Other great headsets to consider include those from HTC Vive, Pico and Lenovo.
Not every student may have access to a VR headset, so the good news is that they all allow for casting to an external screen. Even more, some immersive learning experiences are also available via computer screens. Think of a 3D world like those found in the popular game, Call of Duty, being interacted with via a PC or Macbook.
There are two other key considerations when purchasing a VR headset: tethered v. untethered and 3DOF v 6DOF.
Tethered headsets are those that have a cable running from the head-mounted display to a powerful graphics computer. This gives the ability to have an elevated level of graphics that looks more real. Most headsets purchased today are untethered, like the Quest 2. This is due to the convenience of not having a cable to interfere and the fact that the cost is usually 50%- 70% less.
3DOF and 6DOF refer to the number of degrees of freedom. 6DOF is more realistic because you have up, down, all around and forward and backward freedom. While 3DOF has up, down and all around. This video gives you a quick look at the difference for better understanding:
Building out a classroom VR system will usually cost between $10,000 and $35,000 depending on the number of headsets and content licenses that are included. So, making the right decision and asking the right questions makes a big difference.
If you are interested in learning more about the offerings from VictoryXR, please visit our Website at https://VictoryXR.com
Steve Grubbs is the CEO of VictoryXR, the global leader in the deployment of metaversities and virtual reality classroom learning. Connect with Steve on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steve-grubbs-4708825/