- The headsets are noise activated (or so the kids should believe)
This only really applies to primary schools, but if you can, try and keep this ‘myth’ going. During staff training, I always recommended to teachers that they told their pupils that the headsets are noise activated. That way, the kids know that if it gets too noisy, it will ‘automatically pause’. This is an amazing behaviour management tool and it ensures that your class are paying attention.
- Short stints are better for engagement
I think this is really important, especially if you want to keep that ‘awe and wonder’ moment. Teachers who overuse the headsets and rarely engage with their students through questions or discussion will quickly find their class bored. This is a complementary learning tool and should not be used as the main focus for a lesson. The reason why the headsets don’t have straps is because they should only be used in 2-3 minute stints. By all means let them explore and point them towards areas of interest but make sure you engage with them. The impact on learning is far greater if you have an objective in mind, rather than having a general browse.
- Have your class sat down
Teachers were always surprised when I recommended having their classes sat down. I agree that having them sat in chairs can restrict their 360 view but having them stood up is guaranteed to result in a collision or broken equipment. The app uses still, panoramic images, and so if students are walking around they are not going to get closer or further away from any particular point in the image. If students are walking around, they are bound to collide into one another or walk into walls, chairs and teachers (you name it, I’ve seen them walk into it!).
- Set up the equipment yourself
Set up the equipment by yourself or with the help of a TA 5 minutes before you are due to start. The cardboard headsets are excellent for VR in schools but the mobile devices must be put in tightly or you run the risk of them slipping out and breaking on the floor. The mobile devices are guaranteed to slip inside the cardboard (impacting the quality of the image) or fall out if students are putting them in. Also, if the mobile phones are not working, students love to take them out and attempt to fix them (this is nice because it shows independence) but again, they won’t put them in tightly enough and they will slip out!
- Use it as a starter or plenary activity
I think VR is a great way of starting or ending a lesson. Using VR at the start of a lesson can provide some context for the rest of the lesson and as a result students show a greater level of engagement because they have something to refer to. Alternatively, VR can be used as a good ending to a lesson; a bargaining chip for those students that are tempted to misbehave (they don’t want to miss out) or an effective way of testing students’ knowledge gained throughout the lesson (the Solar System is a perfect example of this).
VR is already transforming the education sector. Resources such as Google Expeditions are being used in schools across the UK to help create awe and wonder. If you are interested in VR, follow us on Twitter (@primevruk) for further tips and ideas for incorporating VR into your school. We also provide free resources such as lesson plans for Google Expeditions that can be downloaded here.
If you have any questions about VR, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.