A recent article written by Erik Ofgang for Tech & Learning discusses 5 important questions to ask when planning a VR (virtual reality) lesson.
Within the article, Ofgang also focuses on immersive learning expert Jaime Donally, and her advice on how to properly plan AR (augmented reality) and VR lessons.
Jaime Donally is a former maths teacher and instructional technologist, who has written two books about teaching with XR (extended reality) – which encompasses both VR and AR.
She advises teachers to ask the following questions before they prepare to teach VR lessons, and get ready for the metaverse.
In this blog post, we’ve listed the 5 points discussed in the article, but we’ve made them more appropriate for teaching lessons in Immersive Reality spaces.
1. What is The Goal of The VR Lesson?
As with any kind of lesson, it’s important to start with the end goal in mind when teaching a virtual reality lesson. Ask yourself questions such as – “What is the learning objective?” and “How can VR help meet the objective?”
It’s important to use VR resources to fill gaps that would otherwise be unavailable with regular teaching methods. Donally says “look for the resources that are going to target those areas where maybe us as teachers have a hard time grasping or demonstrating – what can augmented or virtual reality support that I couldn’t do without that kind of technology?”
For example, teachers can consider using VR to enhance existing lessons, such as a history lesson, where pupils can virtually visit specific times and places – they can even travel back in time, or into the future! In an Immersive Reality space, this is further enhanced, as a whole class can visit a virtual area together, because our spaces are shared and inclusive.
A child exploring a Viking Village within an Immersive Reality space.
2. What Type of Technology Do Your Students Have Access To?
Of course, there are many ways that technology can be implemented into lessons. VR headsets are a well-known way to experience immersive lessons – they are worn on the head and completely cover the eyes, meaning that users can see nothing but the content shown on the screens inside the device, making them immersed in a whole new world.
If this type of technology isn’t available, devices such as smartphones and laptops can be used to enhance learning, however these are very limited, and don’t provide an inclusive experience – only a small number of children could use one laptop or smartphone, so they would have to be split into smaller groups.
Within an immersive space, many pupils can use the space at the same time, so not only can they learn subjects in a unique way, but they can interact with each other, and learn vital communication and teamwork skills.
Children running through the streets of York in an Immersive Reality space.
3. Who Can I Collaborate With?
Collaboration is key when it comes to planning and delivering successful lessons. It’s important for teachers to be able to collaborate with relevant people from the school (such as an I.T. department), to ensure they know exactly how to use the VR equipment – and when it comes to Immersive Reality, it couldn’t be easier to use! Simply press a button on a tablet computer to select different scenes in the room, and the room will change.
The easy to use system means that several teachers could work together in an immersive space, as you don’t need to have any specific technical knowledge to understand how to operate the system.
The collaborative nature of immersive spaces also means that children can navigate the space together, which is especially beneficial for children with special educational needs, who may need extra help when it comes to social situations.
A teacher using a tablet to select a scene in an immersive space.
4. What Resources Are Available?
Jaime Donally has written over 200 blogs on VR learning and related topics for her website, that teachers can access for free. Her articles include topics such as “23 Resources for Bringing AR and VR to the Classroom” and how to “Effectively Use AR/VR for Young Learners”. These are perfect for teachers to use for lesson planning.
Teachers can also connect with other VR-interested educators using relevant hashtags such as #ARVRinEdu on social media. “You’re going to find a lot of resources from the community sharing ideas and inspiring one another,” Donally says. It’s important to keep up to date with other people’s ideas, to inspire your own teaching methods.
Children virtually writing on the walls in an Immersive Reality space.
5. How Do I Know My VR Lesson Is Successful?
The more that virtual reality lessons can be student-directed, the better. “I think a successful lesson is letting the students own the technology,” Donally says. “When students are building and creating experiences, sharing those experiences with others, and that’s something that others can enjoy and maybe even be inspired by. I think that’s really when we’re going to see this kind of technology take off.”
Often in schools, there is a reluctance to give students the reins. “We tend to want to control every piece.” Donally says. “Every time I talk to teachers or students I learn something new. And I think when we can all look at it from an approach that we are in this together to learn this together. This technology is changing so rapidly, that we always have room for growth and to learn together. I think that that’s when you have a successful lesson.”
Immersive Reality spaces underpin this idea, as they give pupils the chance to really take control of their lessons – rather than learning in traditional ways, such as gaining information from a textbook, they can experience learning firsthand, and in a shared environment. A recent example of this is West Lancs’ virtual school trip to Paris – read more about this here.
To conclude, it’s important to consider all of the above points before teaching a virtual reality lesson, to ensure you’re getting the most out of the technology.
Students learn better through experience, however, some experiences aren’t possible or practical for all students, due to reasons such as lack of funds, disabilities or transport issues. This is one of the many reasons why virtual reality is such an effective way to enhance education! It opens up so many opportunities that may have otherwise not been possible.
To find out more about how Immersive Reality spaces enhance education, click here.
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