Would we consider Virtual Reality as a tool for teaching?
In the past I have thought this might be a tool that would bring great benefit to those with Profound Learning Disabilities in terms of play and experience beyond their own body. But I now think having experienced VR via a cheap headset that utilises my mobile phone that as absorbing as it is I think you need some intellect to appreciate it. But it needs testing. For those with autism and ADHD this might be a tool that focuses attention. All other distractions are removed. But such people may wearing the device a difficulty .
Total immersion can be obtained in a variety of ways from Immersive Environments that provide a tool for teaching and learning. For those with physical disabilities bringing the experience closer to them would be so useful and powerful.
Back to my cheap headset. Here a few apps for my iphone that I have tried and so I will try and organise them according to type of use:-
- Environments – Aquarium-VRa, VR Moon, Cardboard
- Experiences – Within, GoPro VR, Skydiving
- Games – Roller Coaster,Go Karts VR
- Cinema – VROneCinema, YouVisitVR
- Creative – Tilt Paint, Auug
These are the broad areas of use VR have apps for. In terms of teaching and learning then subjects such as Geography, Ethics and Cross Culture are the areas where VR could provide factual and debate material. Extreme Sports provide experiences combine them with drones and gopro headsets and there are various ways to have new experiences that maybe your body doesn’t allow you to experience. Although not as rich experience as first hand experience it does provide a totally immersive experience.
Tools are coming that are truly exciting. Holographic and 3D projectors are being developed which brings a virtual experience into the classroom for group experiences. As I think many of my pupils would not like a headset attached to them hav “auuging a VR tool that doesn’t require a wearable is very attractive for those of us working in SEN.
Google have Tilt Paint which shows the creative aspect and I have been impressed recently with a music tool called “auug” – which converts an iPhone into a comprehensive 3d immersive sound instrument.
Low cost VR is now affordable for the classroom. Gaming consoles like Microsoft’s Halo and Occulus Rift headsets are providing tools that would aid those limited by their own bodies to experience an immersive experience of what it might be like. In terms of teaching and learning field trips could take on a whole new meaning! We can visit inhospitable environments from the safety of your own armchair/wheelchair! As a form of leisure then gaming apps can be truly immersive in a first person sense. This is good for the imagination and for expressing yourself through writing, speaking and listening. Work could be done on emotional intelligence which is a key skill for those with relationship and behavioural problems. To rehearse and replay what is appropriate behaviour. At this stage such things are just ideas and concepts but worth developing a teaching and learning plan that could capitalise on this new technology.