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Tag Archives: VR

Sneaking in VR to the class

This year I’m using VR both as a project, and as a motivation tool – to create a brochure. My 6th graders understand some editing and formatting skills. So to raise the bar, I got them to research and put together a brochure on Virtual Reality.

Granted it’s a lot of work. Understanding VR itself takes some time. They must create content for the 6-panel document, look up content, find pictures etc. As work progresses, there is a parallel discussion of what VR looks like, using a few cardboard headsets I acquired. One student even brought in two headsets. (One had cost him just five bucks!)

The incentive was that any student who showed me they had three panels formatted, and with required content, would get to experience a VR roller-coaster ride. Didn’t think a 40-minute class could move so fast!

Funny how sneaking in a piece of tech into a lesson can accomplish much more than a hand-out!

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Posted by on September 29, 2017 in Ed-Tech, Education, Technology

 

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VR, 3D modeling, and social media to kick off Digital Learning Month

Digital Learning Day is on Feb 23rd, but this year we are kicking off a whole month of digital learning at Salt River Elementary.

Tomorrow, our students will learn from designers and programmers what being digital means.

3D Sculpting & VR. Students will learn from designers and animators at TimeFire VR Inc what 3D mesh sculpting and painting on 3-D models involve. An exciting hands-on sessions using Blender, and SculptGL. They will also experience what these virtual worlds look like through VR goggles.

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media. Students will learn from Web3Mavens how to ‘Think like a programmer’ and navigate the world embedded with –or rather overlaid by — social media, particularly Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Wikipedia and YouTube.

And there’s much more in store during February!

 
 

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Google Expeditions meets ViewMasters – highly overpriced

It’s pricey, but it’s here. The answer to having Google Expeditions as a Virtual Reality tool for classrooms.

It’s a long, long shot from the basic Google cardboard headset that could potentially work with a smart phone as Google once promised.

The cardboard headsets were part of the lure because they had such a hand-made feel to it. The new kits, sold by Best Buy (the kit uses a Mattel ViewMasters unit) start at $3,999 for just 10 students, making it an over-priced nice-to-have for many schools. Way beyond the budget of many schools.

Virtual field trips are great, but some of us will have to wait until the a disruptor enters the field .Stereoscopy or the ability to have perceptions of depth and mass is being put to use in many areas outside of education. Let’s just hope Google Classroom continues to give us less branded, low-cost ways to experience Google Expeditions. We have already begun looking into VR for some of our STEM sessions, as I have mentioned before.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2016 in Ed-Tech, Education, Technology

 

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ISTE Ed-Tech Conference Wrap-up: Part 1

Just got back from the ISTE 2016 conference in Denver, and it’s hard to decide what stood out more: The technology, or the practices.

HARDWARE: Being a tech teacher, indeed the tools were mind-blowing. From the simple Digital Storytelling hacks, and wide range ofgaming technologies, to Makerspace ideas such as conductive material, to Virtual Reality, and Robotics. (More on robotics in a later post.) VR seems to have matured since 2014, and mini robots –like the Sphero, here — were practically running over our feet. OK, I actually took the challenge and drove one of these across the floor. They’re practically unbreakable, too!

SOFTWAREThe software definitely made me do a double take, when it came to programming languages, and ‘kits’ to simplify the learning curve. It’s finally come to this: software doesn’t exist in some abstract dimension, but comes coupled with devices that a student could learn to program – and see the effects in real-time. Google and Microsoft appeared to be fighting for attention. If you had the stamina and enough coffee, you could go through an entire day toggling between a Google classroom and that of Microsoft’s. Both have well defined Education divisions. (The former made 5 education product announcements at the conference.)

The sessions I liked most, were the Education Playgrounds. These were informal on-on-one or group sessions. I picked several that combined hardware and software. I met with a few Raspberry pi experts, basically teachers who worked with kits that were built around this mini computer.

I was fascinated by the no-frills entry-level kits (starting at the princely sum of $35 an unit!). Why?

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First because this hardware was not housed in some beautiful laminated case but was transparent enough or a 3rd grader to understand what a computer was all about. I often need to remind students that ‘computing’ is not some mysterious art form.

Second, computer literacy and digital literacy are joined at the hip today, in the same way that Robotics and the Maker movement can be two sides of the same coin. We need to merge our lesson plans, and get our young Digital Citizens to be Makers, engineers, designers, tinkerers, problem solvers and storytellers to recognize they can each take a piece of this action, and run with it.

FINALLY: I attended a few mind-expanding poster sessions, where the presenters were students. I’ve said it before that no teacher conference would be complete until you have met with students who are after all the reason our schools go to great lengths to send us out to these professional development events. It’s inspiring to see the end product of great teaching, and how underpaid teachers in bootstrapped school districts get students to soar. Many takeaways from these sessions.

 
 

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Google’s ‘Expedition’ project visits Arizona

So I’ve got ‘Google Cardboard’glasses ready, and I’m excited to hear that Google will be here in Arizona this week. It’s part of their roll out of Google Expeditions – a classroom project using virtual reality. A few weeks back I applied to have them come out and run VR sessions, so –fingers crossed — I’m hoping my school gets picked.

So what’s Google Expeditions? There’s a good explanation here on this EdTech site, EdSurge. The Google team is visiting selected schools in the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Brazil, Canada, Singapore and Denmark. Each school will get an Expeditions kit – probably a VR ‘Cardboard’ headset, and apps. I noticed that the ‘expeditions’ feature a wide range of topics from ancient civilizations and rain forests, to space and historical events.

Think of it Expeditions as a virtual field trip, or more appropriately, an immersive experience that you could not get out of a text book – something I touched on in the recent Sri Lanka STEAM workshops for teachers.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2016 in Ed-Tech, Education, STEM, Technology

 

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Sri Lankan Workshop YouTube Channel

To support the recent science and tech workshop, our YouTube channel is up and running.

  • This is one of them, on Augmented Reality – featuring Google Cardboard

 

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Derrick Mains on Augmented Reality

Could a pair of cardboard goggles become a critical student engagement tool?

Derrick_1I invited Derrick Mains to my computer lab yesterday to explain Augmented Reality, and what doors it might open for us educators, and of course students. I think I am sold!

Many students have heard of AR and VR, and you would be surprised how curious they are about this. Just as they are more interested in photography today because of disruptive devices such as the GoPro, they are more interested in Apps like these because of what it could do “seeing things differently.”

Cardboard_tnAs Derrick explained, this is another way to use Apps in education. Not just to stare at a screen but to ignore the screen (which disappears, the moment you put these goggles on) and engage and explore new worlds. We are not talking about fictitious virtual worlds, but uncharted territories whether it is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, or to observe an eco-system in a rain forest.

Some of you might remember Derrick Mains from his work in social media. He was one of my co-presenters in a workshop on Digital Citizenship. The reason he’s on camera again, is because he will be in one of the several videos I am producing with my Salt River Pima-Maricopa TV team for another upcoming workshop.

 

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