Can virtual reality happen without a headset? I was invited to speak at the 3 European iPads in the Classroom in Amsterdam last month about creation and collaboration on digital devices. Although my keynote topic was set months in advance, a few weeks before the event the organizer shared an opportunity to be part of session where multiple presenters would lead discussions on virtual reality in education.
Partially because I was travelling straight from TCEA in Texas and knew I wouldn’t be able to fit anything else into my carry-on… and partially because I love thinking about how virtual reality can be accessible for teachers with limited resources… I offered to lead a discussion on “Virtual Reality Without a Headset.”
We often think of virtual reality as a fancy, expensive, gimmicky way of grabbing someone’s attention. You’ve probably seen the same YouTube videos that I have where a person who received a VR headset as a holiday gift falls out of their chair while their whole family laughs. Although these videos capture funny family moments, they often paint the picture that virtual reality is silly, fluffy, or something for out of school hours.
I love virtual reality in the classroom for lots of reasons and if you follow my blog (sign up for the free newsletter here) you know how excited I am about this type of technology. It has the power to transport students to new places, help students empathize with people in other parts of the world, and lead children to wonder and ask questions like never before.
Virtual Reality in Education
So how can you use virtual reality without a headset? The answer is pretty straightforward. The same 360 videos and 360 images you can use with a headset are accessible on web browsers for anyone to view. All you have to do is search for the place you’d like to transport your students to and they can spin around or swipe back and forth as they explore.
Work with what you’ve got
Interactive whiteboard, smartphone, Chromebook, iPad… you don’t need to have the “perfect” device to make it work. A few months ago I joined a group of Kindergarten students to lead a virtual reality lesson to compliment their study of different animal habitats.I knew these students had access to iPads so I set up a virtual reality lesson with Nearpod (one of my favorite tools).
For our lesson on animal habitats, I sat with students in a circle on the rug as we discussed the animals that lived in a forest. Using Nearpod’s interactive presentation tool, I pushed out a 360 image of a forest which popped up on their screen. While sitting on the rug (without headsets) students were able to move their arms back and forth and watch as the iPad screen moved along with them to show off every corner of the forest in the 360 image.
Ready to incorporate virtual reality into a lesson (without a headset)? Take a look at the resources below which give you access to 360 image and 360 videos for your classroom – regardless of the devices you have access to this school year.