One of the most often asked questions we get is, “How do I get started with VR in education?” Hopefully you have taken some time to look through the site and watch some of the videos, to get a fair understanding of what to look for, and what to watch out for. Let’s look at a brief recap.
This is a quick recap of some of the benefits of VR for education, discussing key points such as agency, student control, active learning and special needs. We also touch upon some of the research that has been published about VR in education. It’s never a bad idea to start with why.
Connecting students with concepts
A minute and a half of Haruka studying Photosynthesis (in Japanese!). She is completely immersed in her learning, not thinking about, or concentrating on, anything else. It is easy to picture 10, 20 30 students doing exactly this.
There is differentiated learning for each student (each having their own account), and I will be able to check assessment scores on the Veative platform, to see about progress, and identify gaps in learning, allowing for early intervention. A teacher need not know anything about VR, nor even have to touch one. “Haruka, I want you to study Photosynthesis” is as much as I need to do.
Offline vs Offline-ish
When used with the EduPro, the Veative solution is truly an offline offering. We do not manage content in the cloud, simply because we would never put that burden on schools. VR modules are extremely large, and problematic to move around.
Offline-ish refers to claims made by others that they are offline, however you find out a few troubling details as you dig into things. They have a cloud or network-connected offering. It becomes a “content-managed,” solution, which is code for “we put that work on you, because it is easier for our company.” What is not being shared outright is that you will need to set up your devices with the content, often stored in the cloud, and download that onto the device(s). Only then, does that particular module become ready to be viewed offline. If you wish to change course mid-stream (and what class has ever gone exactly as planned!), you will be out of luck, because someone needs high-speed, 100% reliable internet connectivity to make that happen.
At Veative, we do incorporate some internet connectivity, which allows the assessment scores to be reflected within the teacher dashboard. This is kilobytes (Kb) of information, like sending a text message. All networks worldwide can handle this trickle of data. And if they can’t, it has a 0% effect on the student or your class. The teacher will get that information whenever possible, but there has been no interruption in the learning. We purposefully remove that burden from schools. That is what offline should mean.
Online and offline
It’s very true that the world is more connected than ever. However, high-speed, highly-reliable internet connectivity is still a rarity. My classroom in Japan is not capable of handling the streaming of large, 360° content.
We deal countries as varied as Colombia and India, and the US and Qatar (and all places in-between). Whatever you choose to use, not streaming content will save plenty of time, and free you of frustration and headaches.
Where do I begin with Veative?
“I have 30 students in a class, so I need 30 headsets,” is not the right equation to start from. This assumes that a virtual reality experience is a group activity, whereas it really is a uniquely personal experience.
“I have 500 students in my school, and I want to positively affect their ability to learn biology, math, chemistry, physics, plus provide English language learning opportunities, tours, and more. I also want to know that this offering will keep expanding as my needs increase.” That is the best place to start! Expectations must be raised from the very beginning.
Sometimes, it is best to start simple. If you would like a couple of VR headsets for the library or Maker Space, and still want a lot of content, then we have Library Mode or Kiosk Mode for you.
What you get
Full access to STEM (543 modules) and Virtual Tours (22 modules) for any number of users. These are exactly the same modules as Veative Full, but there is no platform (LMS), no unique user credentials, no classes and so on. You get the library of content on a VR headset, typically for about $200/EduPro, for 1 year. Multi-year purchases are also available.
This is the full package, which centers on the entire teaching/learning process. Each user, whether a student, teacher or administrator, has a unique user profile, with appropriate permissions for each level of access.
What you get
Full access to STEM (543 modules) and Virtual Tours (22 modules) for the number of users purchased. This also includes a full LMS (learning management system), assessment scores tracked back to teachers, class creation, multicasting, usage analytics for admin, and so much more. This is for those who want to key in on the learning, rather than simply the experience.
For budgeting purposes, allow for $10/user/year, which drops with volume. An average Veative Full user is approx 66¢/user/month.
Headsets will be dependent upon budget. Small budget? Start with 8 headsets. Ideally, you would love to get to a ratio of about 1:10 (VR headset to students). But headset purchases can be at any time, as money becomes available, fundraisers and bake sales happen, and so on. We have many schools that buy just a few, then usage and enthusiasm encourage further hardware purchases to ensure that more and more students have access to the content, more and more often. This allows for full justification of the purchase.
If your hardware needs are 1:100, 1:25, 1:10, or even 1:1, that is completely the choice of the teacher, school, or district. A greater number of VR headsets will allow and encourage more usage both inside and outside of class. The VR shouldn’t be confined to “an event”, but should be as simple as a student picking up a tablet, or doing a web search, to discover more about the topic they are learning.
With a wealth of content, actionable assessment scores for teachers, and more and more headsets in the school, usage is justified and more convenient. Now that the option to create your own content (even fully offline!) is available with our VRCreate tool, your VR headsets won’t end up on a shelf, collecting dust. The VR is an instrument for learning, it is not a gadget. Expect full value, and get full value.