The government’s recent announcement to close schools indefinitely during the COVID-19 crisis has left most parents responsible for home schooling their children. This is going to pose a number of challenges for parents across the country who are now having to juggle working from home with educating their children.
Schools are doing an amazing job of providing children with remote learning opportunities as well as sending home comprehensive learning packs to help continue their education. If you’re looking for extra activities to occupy your children at home, the following websites provide some amazing FREE resources with just about all topics and subjects covered:
Lessonplanned.co.uk – Used by thousands of teachers to share their own resources. Download free credible lesson plans from experienced teachers.
Twinkl – Offering a free home learning hub with over 500,000 resources. Activities and schedules published daily.
Primaryresources – Activities and resources for all primary school ages.
In addition to worksheets and reading, you might be looking for some alternative learning experiences for your children? EdTech, specifically VR, could be a great way of providing something different and it doesn’t need to be expensive. At PrimeVR, we’ve been providing VR workshops in schools (now over 700) for the past two years and we’ve come across some amazing apps and programs for you to use. We’ve tried to answer some of your questions below…
What do I need to get started?
This depends on the age of your children and your budget. If your children are at primary school or under the age of 13, we’d recommend sticking to the following headsets:
- Google Cardboard – these require a smartphone but the headsets are relatively cheap and vary in price from £5 – £50. We’d recommend a plastic one if possible as these will last longer and aren’t that much more expensive. We use Homido Grab at PrimeVR. We’ll discuss the apps that we use below.
- VictoryXR – this is a US based company that offers a home schooling package. They cover a wide range of science-based topics. The headsets required to run their software are slightly more expensive but we’d recommend the Pico headset for this age group. $350 includes one headset and a year subscription to all content.
If your children are at a secondary school and over the age of 13, the following headsets are also an option:
- Samsung GearVR – these require a smartphone and they are slightly more expensive than the Google Cardboard. Approximately £49.99.
- Oculus Go – The cheapest of the Oculus family but a great headset all the same. A step up from smartphone VR and very similar to Pico. RRP £139.
- Oculus Quest – This is higher end VR without the need for an expensive computer. If you’re looking for a really immersive experience but without having to buy a new computer as well, we’d recommend this. RRP £399.
- Oculus Rift – The most powerful VR experience along with the HTC Vive below. Provides an amazing experience and is truly immersive but it also comes with a hefty price tag if you require a computer too. RRP £399.
- HTC Vive – Direct competitor to the Oculus Rift. A powerful PC based VR experience. RRP £699.
What apps and programs should I download?
There are hundreds of different apps and software that you can use to benefit your child’s education but this does depend on the headset you’ve got. We’ve listed some of our favourites for each of the headsets for you to get started:
- Google Expeditions – Probably the most widely used app for education. Google Expeditions is free for anyone to download and has over 1000+ expeditions available. These are virtual tours made up of 360° photos, ranging from space to underwater to the Pyramids of Giza. Each tour comes with an audio description and accompanying notes for your children to learn about what they are looking at.
- Titans of Space – This a great way for your children to learn about our Solar System. Titans of Space take you on a journey as an astronaut to learn all about the planets in space. Similar to Google Expeditions, this provides you with information every step of the way to learn more about the planets.
- YouTube360 – There are thousands and thousands of 360 videos on YouTube that can be used for education. It might take you a little bit of time to shuffle through the rollercoaster and zombie experiences but there are educational videos available.
Samsung Gear VR/Oculus Go
- DiscoveryVR – There are several 360 videos that you can show your children which virtually transport them to learn more about nature such as conservation, shark-infested waters and tigers in their natural habitat.
- Unimersiv – There are a number of educational experiences included with Unimersiv, including a tour of the Acropolis in Athens, the Lincoln Memorial and the Statue of Liberty.
- Apollo11 – This is a great way for children to experience the Apollo 11 mission undertook in 1969. It also includes original audio archived from the mission itself.
Oculus Quest/Oculus Rift/HTC Vive
If you have one of the above headsets it opens up your possibilities for VR experiences as you can interact with your environment using your hands and walk around.
- VictoryXR – Voted the best VR education provider in the world. VictoryXR have a range of scientific experiments that you can experience in VR, for example, the dissection of a frog.
- National Geographic Explore VR (Oculus Only) – Become an explorer and choose from two adventures: Antarctica or Machu Picchu. Both of these experiences will allow you to interact with your environment and discover for yourself.
- Tiltbrush – This is an amazing piece of software for any art students and is a great way of expressing creativity in VR. It’s a little more expensive than other options at £14.99 but it’s definitely worth it.
VR is a great way of transporting students around the world without having to leave the house. If used correctly, it would be a great way of complementing your child’s education at home. However, make sure that you supervise your child whilst using VR. Unfortunately it’s not an excuse to leave them to their own devices for a couple of hours. Make sure you restrict the amount of time they spend in VR and take regular breaks when you are using it to understand what they’ve learnt.
We are hoping that COVID-19 blows over soon so that we can continue to go back into schools and inspire children using VR. However, at the moment, we have plenty of time on our hands. If you have a question about using VR, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’d be more than happy to advise you on how to get started with VR.