Over the recent school holidays, we ran a Virtual Reality experience and education session for kids from our community in conjunction with the Museum of the Riverina’s STEAM program.
For the benefit of other educators, we thought to share some of the activities and equipment we used to run a session of 2.5 hours in duration.
Starting with the equipment. For the session, we chose to use the VR Go foldable headset from Austec VR. There were a number of reasons we went for this headset over others that were available on the market. Big on our list was because the kids were going to get to keep their headset from the day we wanted something that was good quality, not just some cheap throw-away. The VR Go foldable fitted our needs perfectly, and Austec VR was very easy to deal with. If you are looking at different headsets some considerations to definitely think about include what is the phone holding mechanism like (ie the likelihood of the phone coming out, or kids accidentally dropping their phone while loading it in) and also make sure that the VR headset has a little button on the top, otherwise the headset will be pretty useless for anything where you need to touch the screen. A word of warning there. Many VR headset options do not have the capacitive button.
In terms of introducing kids to what VR is all about, there’s no better way than to let them experience it first hand. There is a range of Google Cardboard experiences on Youtube. Just make sure you try them first! Before you let the kids loose, decide whether the kids will be sitting or standing to experience the VR world. If they are standing make sure it’s a clear and safe area with no obstacles as the kids will be turning around as well as looking up and down. In a previous VR session we had access to an egg/pod chair and with it being on a swivel it worked a treat.
Once kids had experienced first hand what VR is about we gave them a demonstration and then let them loose in CoSpaces Edu. Our session had a range of kids on both BYOD and our loaner equipment. We like to bring a box of USB mouse with scrolling wheel functionality to lend out as navigating around applications where you need to pan or zoom can be difficult where you only have a laptop trackpad to use.
Kids of the Minecraft generation find navigation a breeze and were quickly familiar with the CoSpaces environment. From a teaching perspective within CoSpaces setting up a class is straightforward, and once in your class kids can share with you their various worlds or experiences they create. This makes it easy to then share what someone has created with the rest of the class from your teachers’ computer hooked up to a smartboard or similar.
Our session had kids attending in ages ranging from 9-14 years with a number of creative challenges. Below are some examples of the work produced on the day.