Jul 20 2018

4 Ways to Make Virtual Reality Integration Pay Off

Districts investing in VR integration in the classroom should make sure they get the best bang for their buck.

Virtual reality is becoming a preferred tool for districts eager to expand the minds of their students beyond the confines of the classroom.

As experts discover more evidence promoting the benefit of modern classrooms and interactive education programs, demands for virtual learning tools are being heard from teachers and administrators alike.

“Districts should look at new tools that help students access a virtual reality experience,” Monica Burns, Class Tech Tips consultant, tells EdTech. “I’ve had the chance to work with students and teachers around the idea of how to use VR tools so students can take virtual trips to locations around the world they might not have a chance to visit.”

While the consensus is these tools are helpful in the classroom, virtual reality systems and interactive displays can take a significant bite out of a district’s tech budget. Here’s how to get the most from this technology:

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1. Maintain A Portfolio of Relevant Class Material

VR systems usually rely on proprietary content. Make sure there’s a steady stream of new and updated course materials in the pipeline so the technology doesn’t grow stale.

Poly, a Google program that lets users create their own 3D space, is an impressive tool that makes VR a worthy addition to the classroom, Simon Dudar, a fifth-grade science and social studies teacher at Haldane Central School District in Cold Spring, N.Y., tells Education Week.

Google has also launched a “pioneer program” for teachers and students to create their own Google Expeditions content, according to EdWeek Market Brief. 

2. Extend the Reach of Each Device Through Mirroring

VR technology may be too expensive for a one-to-one program, but there are ways to engage everyone with VR that don’t require equipping each student with a headset.

For example, virtual tools such as the HTC Vive can be mirrored onto a monitor, television or smartboard, allowing the entire class to participate in the experience. 

3. Recruit Teachers to Promote the Benefits of VR

Find teachers who are eager to experiment with new technology and use them to both support it and encourage others. Building a community of teachers and administrators is key to developing a successful VR program

A Gallup poll found only 41 percent of teachers think digital devices are helpful to students’ education. This may be due to a fear of being replaced or simply a lack of knowledge on the subject, according to the Edvocate

Being able to talk with other teachers about the benefits of VR will help skeptics understand why this technology should be integrated and be more enthusiastic about it.

4. Use Demonstrations to Bring Parents to the Table

Teachers and administrators are not the only ones who can help push for more virtual reality in the classroom. 

Bring the technology to parent curriculum nights and other school events to show off what VR can add to the classroom. Invite local media to see it, so you can generate enthusiasm in the community.

Steve Debenport/Getty Images

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