Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Actually, it’s Virtual Reality.

The first few lyrics to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is all I can think of when I think about virtual reality (VR). If you aren’t already familiar with virtual reality, to put it simply it’s a type of technology that allows you to experience another environment through sight. This happens by using a headset that tracks your head and eye movements to change the image you are seeing within the headset changing the environment you are experience. Our brains are triggered through the image and movement to make the experience more lifelike. Why might someone use virtual reality? There are a variety of reasons for using VR that go beyond simply entertaining ourselves. There are 9 different industries that use VR for training, education or experiences. Sharon discusses some VR tools that Sask Polytechnic use here in Regina to train their nurses. VR is being used to help treat patients with dementia and for teaching someone how to walk again. For an overview of virtual reality and how it works check out this video.

Amy found a really great Ted Talk discussing how virtual reality should be used to develop empathy through experiencing the lives of others around the world. I cannot even fathom what it would be like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes in a war torn country or a country where children must walk miles to get to school. Yes I have seen videos or documentaries, but those videos do not give me the same experience that VR could. I had never thought of using VR in this way before and I think that this would is an incredible way to use the technology.

Photo Credit: bmward_2000 Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: bmward_2000 Flickr via Compfight cc

Augmented Reality (AR) is another type of reality that can be experienced using technology. This is when we experience reality by combining the real world with overlaying information. Some forms of AR I am familiar with are found while watching TSN or other sports on TV. The first down line on an football field is an augmented reality, it can be argued that slow motion is a form of augmented reality as well because it helps us examine a clip more closely to see what happened. Charles Arthur provides a thorough description of AR by discussing the development, AR apps and the future of advertising using AR. Bill and Logan introduced us to Aurasma which is an AR app that has so many uses within the classroom. Rochelle described how she uses Aurasma at her school by having students create book reviews for the books in the library. A book review is just one example of the many ways AR can be used in education and within our classrooms.

Of course we can’t forget about the digital divide when we think about integrating these experiences in our classrooms. We must always remember that all students come from different socio-economic backgrounds and that the access to technology among them might vary. The cost to implement VR technology in our classes can also be very expensive (unless we use Google Cardboard which is reasonably priced).

I can definitely see myself using a word wall for my math courses and integrating some of the virtual experiences into my technology class. I am really interested in Google Expeditions and want to find a way to integrate that into my technology class. This might be something that I could collaborate with another teacher to make it a cross-curricular activity mixing technology with social or science class. I was happy to hear so many of you already have experience with these different realities and I love hearing how you integrate them into your classes. If there is anything you are doing that uses these technologies I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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12 thoughts on “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Actually, it’s Virtual Reality.

  1. First of all, I love the Bohemian Rhapsody and the fact that you created a witty title with the lyrics. It will be stuck in my head for days. I appreciate your reference to the first down line as I hadn’t thought about that line as AR, but it helps to widen my understanding as Augmented Reality is fairly new to me.
    Google expeditions/Google cardboard are really new to me and they seem very engaging and exciting but very “outside of my teacher box”. I hope to hear about how people are using them in order to give me some perspective about the tools. Thanks for your post!

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    • Thanks Natalie! Not sure how the song got in my head, but that’s all I can think about when I think about experiencing VR. The article I linked to by Charles Arthur made me look at AR from a different perspective and help my fully understand it. The sport casting AR that most sports currently use are an easy way to remember that AR is basically overlaying information on our real environment. When you think about it there are a lot of sports that include these types of AR. It’s quite interesting.

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  2. Love the blog this week! Your title had me singing right off the hop!

    I really appreciated some of the examples of how VR is currently being used within different companies and also in our province (way to go, Sask Polytechnic!)

    Additionally, I really appreciated the video you had at the end, it really had me thinking about how walls/barriers should be non-existent in our schools. While it’s not exactly the same as being there, it sure has potential to be a close second (in my opinion). If only we had a surefire way to ensure the digital divide isn’t causing more of barrier.

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    • I completely agree with your thoughts about the video. I think that we have such potential using technology but we have to make sure that it isn’t benefiting some students while disadvantaging others.

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    • I agree completely with Amy’s comment about walls/barriers being non-existent within our schools. The video that you included, along with the empathy video that Amy showed helped me view AR and VR technologies as an opportunity to create a stronger human connection amongst citizens worldwide. I think of my class of students which represent so many cultures and I think VR trips to these various countries will allow my students to understand each other better.

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  3. Bohemian Rhapsody great hook!
    I also really liked the video of the kids using the google cardboard. I had never heard of google cardboard until last Tuesday. This video helped me visualize how this can be used in the classroom.

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  4. I wrote my blog before reading yours, but I would have liked to have watched that Ted Talk first. I found an article that talked about using VR as a means of allowing people to experience the life of a homeless person with the intent of generating empathy. I’m going to watch that talk now as I’m sure it’ll elaborate on what I read about.

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    • I recommend the talk because it gave me a whole other perspective you think about virtual reality. The article you speak of sounds interesting. Did you include it in your blog?

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  5. Great post Ashley! If only we were teaching in the same school, I love the idea of interdisciplinary work between a technology class and social studies class! Add a language course in there, and you are golden. Google Expeditions seems perfect for all those classes combined – and the idea of a word wall in Math is fantastic! So many possibilities, it is truly endless, if you can somehow manage the digital divide and use this tech to reduce the gap rather than widen it, then it would be almost perfect. Thanks for the great post!

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    • I have the added bonus of my students all taking the same classes because our class is so small. I often wonder how interdisciplinary classes work at other schools where students may be taking different course. You could collaborate with other classes through blogs or Skype though? That might be something to try, not necessarily interdisciplinary, but would be neat to connect with other classes studying the same topic.

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  6. Great post Ashley! The first thing that comes to mind when I think of VR is Disney and how they were using this type of technology years ago. We travelled there over 12 years ago and one of the favorite things the kids enjoyed doing was designing their own roller coaster ride. While sitting in their own capsule the roller coaster ride would begin just as they had designed with all of the dips, turns and curves they had set out. So to apply this type of technology for teaching is so exciting. I think it is just another great tool to reach many different learning styles and to keep the students challenged.

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