The use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in the educational sector is on the rise now more than ever. Google recently announced the availability of its 3D animals which lets you point your smartphone, to VR headset, to any part of the room to have a life size Lion, or pet dog in your room.
At launch, Google won accolades for its concept but the tool did not go beyond the “wow factor” and felt a tad gimmicky with the scale and positioning of the animals. But since launch Google has ironed out a few kinks and the tool is capable of producing stunning results, especially if the smartphone in use has a dedicated depth sensor.
If you are itching to try it out, simply type the name of any animal in your Google search (Google has an ever-growing library of animals) and tap on the 3D option in the top half of the results. Sit back and enjoy the life size cheetah in your living room. Go on, we will wait.
It’s not just elementary learning tools, however, the animals feature is part of Google’s take on VR education with their Google Expeditions. Expeditions offers immersive VR simulations that are available to students and teachers. By using Expeditions, teachers can take their students on a VR tour of the pyramids of Giza, or use AR to put an asteroid right in the classroom.
It’s about bringing textbooks to life, and the new generation of educators and students are probably witnessing the largest transformation the education sector has seen up until today.
Moving past whiteboards
As an educator you don’t have to rely on video content that is available in the public domain to bring lessons to life. Video game engine manufacturer Unity, for example, runs a 10-week development course called XR Development.
Unity and its channel partners market the tool to students of a higher level education to deliver their own projects, which could be in different areas of study ranging from medical and engineering fields.
Thanks to a course , that can be completed in a matter of weeks, we are able to get interactive 2D / 3D / VR clips that can be customised to match each grade’s curriculum. As educators we need to collaborate with the right minds to match our requirements. You do not need to have knowledge of coding or physically participate in Unity’s 10-week programme.
Today, students are in a position of advantage, they can look beyond their books to re-imagine the World Wars or first industrial revolution of the 19th century. Thanks to the introduction of AR and VR, the classroom of today is about to transform the meaning of education.