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Posts tagged ‘virtual reality’

Looking for Google Expedition alternatives? Aren’t we all.

Seriously, Google?

I’m not sure who decided to discontinue the amazing Expeditions app and the equally amazing Tour Creator tool. But, excuse my French, what the heck random Google decision maker person?

Some of your past decisions to end things made sense. (I’m looking at you Google+) But you seem to make a habit of creating some cool stuff and then kill it not soon after. (I’m looking at you Google URL Shortener.)

Expeditions and Tour Creator? Super cool stuff. I never met any teacher who couldn’t find a way to use these tools – especially when incorporating the associated Cardboard 3D viewer headsets. And now they’re gone because why?

Google threw Jennifer Holland, Google’s director of education program management, under the bus. “We’ve heard and recognize that immersive experiences with VR headsets are not always accessible to all learners,” she said. Thanks Jennifer . . . and now immersive experiences aren’t available for *any* learners. Hmmm.

Okay. Rant over. I’m better now.

But now what? What can you do with that big box of 30 Cardboard headsets? Are there similar 3D VR things available and how can you can access them? Well . . . yes, there are some options out there.

Read more

History is a bunch of grass. And we need to let our kids play on it.

Bob Edens had been blind since birth. Fifty-one years of darkness, sounds, smells, and touch followed. But after a remarkable laser surgery, Bob can now see. For 51 years, Bob had imagined what things looked like based mainly on the descriptions of others and what he could feel.

I never would have dreamed that yellow is so . . . yellow. But red is my favorite color. I just can’t believe red.

He’s now seeing for himself what he had only imagined.

Grass is something I had to get used to. I always thought it was just fuzz.  But to see each individual green stalk . . . it’s like starting a whole new life.  It’s the most amazing thing in the world to see things you never thought you’d see.

Sometimes I think we do this with kids. We tell them about history and have them read about history but we never let them experience history. They never get to actually “see” the individual people and events and details – students rely on us to describe those things for them. We can forget that history is supposed to be a verb, not a noun – especially at this time of the school year when we’re trying to make sure to “cover” everything.

So . . . how can we help our kids see history? Read more

Move your kids past simply consuming virtual reality. They need to be making it. Tour Creator can help

I spent part of last Monday working with the awesome staff of the Eisenhower Foundation at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum. They hosted 18 teachers from around the state during a week long focus on using primary sources across the curriculum.

Part of our time together was spent talking about non-traditional primary and secondary sources. The teachers were all used to using texts such as diaries, speeches, and photographs. So it was fun sharing about stuff like artifacts and audio clips. But it was even more fun playing with virtual reality tours.

I’ve shared about virtual reality before. And if you’ve been around History Tech much, you already know that I’m convinced about the power of VR tours as part of learning.

There were some interesting conversations around primary vs. secondary sources and what really makes a virtual reality tour a primary source. And, of course, we talked about possible teaching strategies and activities for using VR as part of teaching and learning. The best question that came out of the discussion was: Read more

Old school virtual reality. What could your students do with this?

Most of you know that I’m a sucker for anything VR. I love Google Cardboard and Expeditions. The NYTVR app is an incredible tool for creating emotion and empathy with our kids. And who doesn’t enjoy Youtube channels like Virtually There?

So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that I also can’t get enough of the old timey stereographs and stereoscopes. You know . . . old school VR. Virtual reality before the Googles.

Before Cardboard, there were ViewMasters. And before ViewMasters, there were stereoviews and stereoscopes. The process was basically the same – two photographs of the same scene were taken from two slightly different perspectives and then mounted side by side on a card. The photos would appear three-dimensional when used with the stereoscope viewing device.

And the effect on people was the same then as it is today when your kids are using Google Street View to hike around the Pyramids.

In 1859, Oliver Wendell Holmes described the impact: Read more

Quick and easy way to find the perfect Google Expeditions tour

Even after a couple of years working with Google Cardboard apps and tools, I am still fascinated with the possibilities of virtual reality as part of the instruction and learning process.

And, yes, there are other VR viewers and apps out there. But the price (free) and ease of use (super duper easy) of the Cardboard viewer and associated Google VR apps makes it a quick and simple entry into integrating virtual reality into the classroom. I especially like the power of Google Expeditions.

You can catch up with a longer description of the Expeditions app here but the quick overview is that the app allows you and your students to experience virtual reality together – each on your own device.

As the Expedition Guide, you have some control of what students experience while using the app and allows you to direct the learning that happens. I also like that students can switch roles in the app, moving from Explorer to Guide. This makes Expeditions not just a consumption tool but a creation tool as well.

(Want to extend the learning? While it’s not yet possible to upload Tours to the app’s database, you can still ask students create their own “Tours” – researching a specific place or event, finding or producing their own 2D or 3D images, and writing contextual information for each of their scenes. Share their “Tours” with with a Google Sites or Doc.)

It’s a great way to create emotion as part of the learning process and build empathy.

One of the shortcomings in the app has always been actually finding just the right tour to use with your students. There is a search function and several categories that you can browse through. But as new Tours are added, these simple search features become a more cumbersome to use.

The solution? Read more

3D multimedia storytelling with Story Spheres

I’ve been head over heels for virtual and augmented reality for the last year or so.

There just seems like there is so many different ways to use VR to connect students with content. There are emotional connections, the ability to build empathy, a chance to immerse kids into specific places, to connect past and present, to link geography with events.

This ability to build connections make the use of virtual reality tools such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear a no-brainer for social studies teachers. I posted a ton of VR and AR resources a few months ago that highlights some basic steps, resources, and tools that you can use to get started.

But one of the things several of us have been hashing around is that much of the VR and AR tools are consume only. The end user of most tools simply looks at or experiences something. The app does all the work.

A perfect example is the very cool Google Expeditions app. I love the tool and its ability to take your kids to lots of places. But it is very teacher driven and the content is pushed out to and consumed by the students.

The good news is that more tools are being developed that allow students to not just consume VR content but to create it as well. The Google StreetView mobile app has always had the capacity to capture 360 degree images but few educators knew about the feature and fewer took advantage of that option. And the Google Cardboard Camera app is designed to easily create 360 photospheres.

But one of my new favorite tools that encourage kids to create rather than just consume is a website called Read more