By Michael Fricano II
Have you experienced Google Cardboard yet? (If not, we have some great tips and ideas in our Google virtual reality article!)
Did you get your free VR headset with your New York Times subscription?
Have you seen the flood of 360-degree pictures and videos in your Facebook feed?
Virtual reality is quickly becoming a hot topic in education as more free and inexpensive content, apps, and tools are being created. I’ve been following the VR space since Google Cardboard was announced at Google I/O in 2014 and it continues to blow my mind.
Since then, I’ve been organizing all the education-related VR content that I can find into a handy resource website and email newsletter at bit.ly/VRinEDU.
Today, I’d I’m sharing six of my favorite free virtual reality resources for the classroom.
1. Discovery VR App
One of my most favorite apps to introduce teachers and students to the VR world is “Discovery VR.” This is informative content is created by Discovery Channel and is available through their dedicated mobile app, YouTube channel, and website, allowing you and your students to access all of their free 360-degree content on mobile devices or computers.
Check out their Racing Extinction and Seeker series to explore Africa and to stand among rhinos, giraffes, and elephants during related geography lessons.
2. Google Expeditions App
I was fortunate enough to organize a visit to my school by the Google Expeditions Pioneer Team back in April, and now that the app is officially released for both Android and iOS, we’re excited to get students exploring the world and beyond in 3D and 360 degrees.
Google Expeditions is a free mobile app experience only and allows you and your students to travel around the world, under water, into space, and even into the human body. What I like most are the Career Expeditions that give you and your students a 360-degree tour into a day in the life of career paths such as a Chef, a Product Engineer, an Aquarist, and more.
3. “360° Videos for Education”—A YouTube Playlist
YouTube is also another great place to watch 360-degree videos and with the YouTube mobile app you can now convert 2D, 360-degree videos to 3D and use Google Cardboard or other VR headset to become immersed in the video.
In this YouTube Playlist, I’ve gathered more than 20 (and growing!) videos that I consider to be some of the best educational 360-degree videos on YouTube. Students can fly through the solar system while learning about the planets, navigate through the human body, or follow in the footsteps of a Syrian refugee child.
4. NYT VR App
Another great resource for high-quality virtual reality content is the New York Times VR app called NYT VR available for both Android and iOS. Let your students stand on the surface of Pluto in “Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart” or travel to five of the most fascinating National Parks in “Explore like never before.” NYT VR is producing some of the most professional and best quality VR content that I’ve been able to find and it’s all free for you and your students to access.
5. Google Street View App
Another great way to get your students to explore the world through the eyes and minds of other people is to use the Google Street View app. You may have used Street View in the past either with Google Maps or Google Earth to check out your house or your school. Now all of that great Street View content is accessible through its own app and the web.
It’s not just Google creating the Street View content anymore, it’s now user-generated content from people like you and I—Not only does the app let you view other people’s 360-degree images, but it has it’s own built in 360-degree camera, which means you and your students can be contributors to this world wide community.
It was difficult to pick my top five virtual reality resources because there’s so much great content out there. You can check out five more VR resources over at my own blog, blog.Edtechnocation.com, as well.