What can I do with these new VR headsets?
This is really just an expensive toy - right??
Virtual Reality has been everywhere this year. And more than one household or classroom now has VR headsets thanks to the Christmas buzz!
You could say that our DLGWAEA Christmas present came a bit early- when the Google Expeditions kit arrived this fall. We have had a flurry of requests and opportunities to share Expeditions with classrooms and teachers across Grant Wood Agency, including a full day workshop that was held in early January.
“NO!” I want to say loud and clear.
But, just saying no is really not enough. Instead, I want to share an experience I had that demonstrates how this tool can be incorporated into the classroom to take student learning in a different direction.
If you haven't picked up your copy - I would highly recommend it! It's great!
Planning this study has been a rich experience for me - thanks to the discussions and ideas generated by the leadership of Kristine and Ann Langenfeld, building principal. This dynamic team is impacting student learning in so many ways!
As we dug into this book we really wanted to help the teachers compare and contrast different digital and analog tools. Our goal was to help them move beyond digital=good & analog=bad to a deeper conversation. One that focuses on the merits of all tools, since our ultimate goal is preparing students for work with a full toolkit of both digital and analog tools.
We started with an essential question:
How has climate change impacted coral reefs?
And added a standard:
RI.6.7: I can integrate information from various sources to develop an understanding of a topic or issue.
To set the stage for these Iowa students who are far away from a coral reef, we began with guided exploration of a reef using a Google Expedition. Adding music to this exploration took it to the next level.
Then we brought the groups together to discuss both the content and the process. We created a pro and con table of the different elements as we talked.
What did we learn?
- Seeing the reef and hearing the music made the reading much easier to understand. As learners there was a 'hook' for the new learning to connect with.
- More group content discussion happened with the group who read the printed article. It seemed like they could see when others were finished and started discussing this intriguing article before they went to the online padlet tool.
- Reading the online article included images that added to that group's understanding - but logging into the site took a long time and was a hinderance for some.
Bottom line - VR tools need to be embedded in the art of teaching. A VR tool in isolation can just be something bright and shiny. When a teacher pairs a a digital tool with their own depth of teaching knowledge the world opens up for students in a different way.