So I was at the University of Sunshine Coast a month ago and got to experience the HTC Vive and Google’s Tilt Brush first hand.
The experience blew me away! In my line of work I get to see a lot of emerging tech in the education world and this was one of those moments in life when you are really excited but scared at the same time.
With the VR headset and the controllers you are immersed in a completely different space and the Google Tilt Brush software felt so natural it was like I was learning to paint all over again.
If you have not see their promo watch the video below:
I’ve managed to get our school St Andrew’s Anglican College to invest in one of these, and have been working closely with the Head of Art to start our first set of virtual art displays.
This is just the beginning though. I’ve been looking through some of the other educational applications which are available/coming on the market and come up with the list below which I think could all add heaps of value to different areas of learning around the school.
Aside from these application though when you step back and start imagining what is possible once you introduce a very real feeling Virtual Reality experience into the classroom the possibilities are endless!
My prediction is that once our mobile devices have enough grunt to deal with the demands of a VR experience this is going to be a game changer. There are already predictions that VR will replace the TV set and imagine what a mobile version of this kit would do.
As a dad of a 4 and 2 year old I have to say there is a little part of me that is scared. Sitting on a train in Sydney recently, I noticed everyone looking at their phones with their headphones on – no conversation – we all know the scene. What is our society going to look like once people can pop on their headset and literally be in another world?
For now though, it’s an exciting new space for us to play in and I for one am looking forward to seeing our first VR Art installation next term.
Our school is going through a major reform of not only teaching styles and pedagogy but learning space, both physical and virtual.
My main roll in this transformation is guiding and reforming our online class spaces which run on a Moodle infrastructure. In the last two years we have evolved our use of Moodle from long list of links and resources (eventuating in something most teachers affectionately referred to as “the scroll of death”) into far more engaging and interactive authentic tasks online.
“The Scroll of Death”
Creating these long lists of resources meant that teachers no longer needed to hand out as many notes, but it really didn’t engage students online and quite often lead to confusion because there was so much written content to navigate through. Often a single logical task would be separated into a webpage which give information, a file which needed to be downloaded and then possible (if lucky) an activity which the students could complete. This meant that for every one task online students would have several links online to click through.
What We Changed
Having looked at this dilemma we decided firstly to start using the Moodle resource “Compose a Webpage” far more extensively. Teachers were trained how to rather embed their information/instructions and (importantly) links, images & documents INTO the webpage. This meant that a single webpage click could replace several links on the front of the course page. See the below video on the basics of this.
Once we had more engaging and rich web pages on our courses, we started to copy these pages INTO the description part of the Moodle activities. This meant that in one link we could, for example, get students to view a video, visit a couple of websites and then download a worksheet which they completed and finally could upload. All this within ONE link!
Watch the basic below video on how to copy a webpage resource INTO an activity in Moodle.
Where We Are Heading
What we found was that once we had these web pages and web activities in our Moodle courses it was easy to start using images on the front page to link to these resources. Instead of having a boring list of links we stated to play around with the simple concept of using images to link to these resources and putting the resources either at the bottom of the course or in a “hidden section”. What this has started producing are site pages which look nothing link Moodle course pages but more like normal engaging sites for students to explore. The bonus is that these new courses were as dynamic and easy to update as old courses because it is all based on Moodle activities and web pages. Teachers are able to modify tasks themselves and now we can use enhancers to “bling up” the front look.
Below are two examples of this; one is a Christian Studies site created by a college who works at our school.. the other is a term based course with a variety of Blooms Taxonomy style activities.
This is creating far more interactive and tantalising online environments for our students to work in. To see and hear more about what we are doing visit http://scil.com.au/