Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Power of VR and Audio in the Classroom

In December 2016 I was fortunate enough to attend an "Innovation Day" put on by the London Region Managing Information for Student Achievement (MISA) Professional Network Centre (PNC), in London, ON. It was an exciting day of presentations, discussion, and establishing new connections. My participation in the Innovation Day also afforded me an opportunity to apply for funding to conduct an Innovation Project.

After some time and reflection, I thought it would be a lot of fun to try and help bring the Grade 4 Social Studies curriculum to life and have the students immerse themselves in their learning in a variety of ways. Here is the plan that I considered: 1) use Google Expeditions to take my students on virtual field trips to parts of the world that would connect to the content that they would be studying; 2) record my students thoughts/ideas/connections (via audio) while they were on their virtual trip and then have them listen to their audio to think about their thinking; and 3) share our experiences with anyone/everyone using social media.

I am pleased to say that the project was approved for funding which allowed us to purchase the VR viewers we needed to use in combination with our mobile devices to harness the power of Google Expeditions.

Our tweet when the VR viewers arrived.
The students are currently researching and learning about a variety of early civilizations (e.g. Ancient Egypt, China, etc). They are gathering information to create digital museum exhibits that they will present to their classmates and post online for others to view and comment on. We took some time the other day to start and download expeditions that are connected to some of the places/people that the students are learning about. Here are some of the tweets and photos from our first experiences:










We are off to a great start. The students have explored some places in Peru, Egypt, and Greece. We are learning how to use the technology so things are not running as smooth as we would like but that is part of taking risks with our learning and we are okay with that. While the students were on their trips I managed to get some audio of their thoughts/ideas/connections that will be used in the days to come to assist them with the meta cognition. Please take some time to check them out:

Peru (Inkan Citadel of Machu Picchu)

Greece (Acropolis Museum)

As I watched and listened to the students, I realized that I was as excited as they were! Here is my audio from the other day:

Teacher Audio

It is my hope that this project will lead my students to a greater understanding of what they are studying by making it more real for them, allowing them to make their learning more personal and emotional. By Using VR and audio to do this, I believe that their learning experiences will be richer and stick with them for life, allowing them to make connections to it as they grow and develop in the different areas of their life.

I am quite pleased with how well things have gone so far. As we continue to leverage the use of VR and Audio to benefit our learning, things are sure to become easier and second nature for us. We are in the early stages which means that we are still learning how to use the "stuff". Once we have that under our belts and it the use of VR becomes routine rather than an event, we will be more focused on our learning and be able to go deeper as we interact with the content. Please make sure to come back and visit to learn more about our journey involving the power of virtual reality and audio in our classroom.