One of a pair of parallel features on VR technology used via the iPad, this part takes a look at the London VR app. Take a virtual tour around the streets of England's capital city and inspire students in ways previously impossible without visiting the location.
Virtual reality technology will become core to education in the next ten years. There, I said it. Being able to immerse students in otherwise impossible locales and situations provides priceless and limitless potential for the classroom.
If you follow us on Twitter (@iPadEducatorsAE) you may have noticed a few months back that I posted a pic of my daughter wearing my Google Cardboard style VR headset. I've been playing around with this for a while now but the key word here is playing. There's one major problem with the integration of this tech in the classroom - it's designed for smartphones... which primary schools don't have. Even forward thinking schools that perhaps invested in iPod Touches (which can be coerced into the simple VR housing units) back in the day will most likely have abandoned them in favour of iPads by now.
My friend and constant source of inspiration, Lee Parkinson (@ICT_MrP) recently wrote an excellent piece on harnessing VR apps in the classroom. Like Lee, I was using the Epic Citadel app a few years back to immerse students in an historical world to inspire creative writing. What Lee has twigged is that some of the apps that are designed for VR headsets can be utilised in single screen rather than dual screen mode. As such the immersive experience is maintained (naturally to a somewhat lesser degree) but can now be delivered via an iPad with the gyroscope motion control enabled. In his post, Lee had chosen the Sharks VR app to allow students to explore underwater - take a look:
I'm going to focus on somewhere that means a lot to me as it is where I used to live and work before moving to Dubai - the city of London.
Developed by Rewind FX using 360 panoramas from Visualise, London VR allows users to immerse themselves in the sights of one of the world's most iconic cities. The app works as a virtual tour by sewing together a range of panroramas from locations such as Harrods, Westminster, Tower Bridge and more. Movement is accomplished by targetting direction icons to allow access to new locations. True, it would have been even better if the app did work more like Epic Citadel and less like Epic Zen Garden in this respect but it is a minor quibble.
The range of locations is pleasingly diverse and if you get virtually lost, you can always look to the floor to return to your starting vantage point atop The London Eye.
There are vaious ways that an app like this could be applied in the classroom. In my recent piece for UKED Magazine, I detailed how I'd used the simpler 360 Cities app as a part of a larger Thinglink project. Our Year 4 students here in Dubai have actually just completed a project on Great Britain for which this would have made a perfect addition!
Writing can definitely be the real benficiary from applying immersive apps like this though. Students can virtually visit the city using iPads and take notes on paper during their trip. Allow them to snap screengrabs too and the combined text and images would form the basis of some incredible writing opportunities, such as:
- a recount of their virtual trip - a descriptive piece about the city - a comparison between London and their own location - poetry inspired by the sights - a story using the locations from the app as the settings
This feature is part of a pair. The sister piece focuses on another location that is important to me, where I currently live - The UAE. You can find that piece via the iUAE section.