Using VR in education with PrimeVR
PrimeVR is an education company that offers virtual reality workshops to schools across the UK and covers a range of subjects from the Romans in History, Volcanoes in Geography and Space in Science. Since starting in September 2017, they've been into over 500 schools across the UK and they've developed a wealth of experience of how VR can be used in the classroom. We wanted to catch up with them and see how they see VR in education being used over the next 10 years.
How can schools access Virtual Reality for the classroom?
"Schools have a number of options that they can go with in order to enhance the curriculum with VR. I think it's important that schools consider their budget, how often they'll use it and the level of enthusiasm from teachers.
The first option, which is the cheapest and least risky, is to book a VR workshop with an external company. At PrimeVR, we offer full day workshops where all of KS2 can use virtual reality to kick-start their specific topic and create a 'buzz' around the classroom. We provide all of the equipment and an experienced team member to lead the workshops so that teachers don't have to spend time learning how to use the equipment.
The second option is to buy a VR kit for your school. These usually come with a number of headsets ranging from starter packs of 4 to a full class set of 30. With this, you'll usually be provided with an all-in-one case to store and charge the headsets. This is the most expensive option available to schools and we always recommend that they consider how often they'll be used and how long will they last before they need updating.
The third option available to schools is to put together their own class set of virtual reality headsets. Schools could purchase the headsets directly from the manufacturer rather than from a third party educational distributor and they could come up with their own solution for storing the devices. This is usually cheaper but you won't be provided with the same level of support (training, installation, repairs etc.)."
Is it the right time for schools to invest in their own VR headsets?
"Personally, we think it's a little early for education. VR is amazing and the response you get from a full class is incredible. Pupils are fully engaged and they can visit places and periods of history that otherwise wouldn't have been accessible to them. The problem is that at the moment there just isn't enough quality content to justify a class set for a school. If you buy a class set now, you might be left with headsets in a couple of years that can't run the programs and content you want because they are out-dated.
Another factor to consider is, without a high level of quality content, will you overuse the virtual reality headsets and therefore destroy that initial awe and wonder moment?
If you purchase your own VR headsets, you might also feel obliged to use the VR headsets on a regular basis to justify the expense."
Do you see VR being used in education over the long term?
"Yes we do. Virtual reality provides students with a learning experience that otherwise wouldn't have been accessible to them. It adds a practical element to the classroom that was previously only talked about. For example, imagine building a car engine during an engineering lesson or stepping inside the Pyramids of Giza from over 2,000 miles away. The possibilities with VR for education are endless and at this moment in time we are only scratching the surface. "
Are there any other points for schools to consider with VR for education?
"Schools should make sure that they do plenty of research before investing in their own headsets. There are a huge number of headsets available on the market and most of them have different age recommendations and available content. For example, the higher end headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are recommend for users over the age of 13 and adults only respectively. Both of these headsets also run on their own operating system, which means content available on the Oculus headset might not be available on HTC.
Schools also need to consider whether they want a standalone headset or one that is run through a PC. There are positives and negatives for each but all these factors should be considered by schools. There's also the option for schools to use mobile VR and this can be a much cheaper setup. We'd advise checking with parents and the local community to see if anyone is willing to donate an old mobile phone as this may just work for what you need."
If you're interested in using virtual reality for your classroom but you are unsure on which route to go down, why don't you book a workshop with our team? We'll be able to talk you through all of the different options available to you and you'll also be able to see what type of reaction it gets. Our workshops start from £1.99 per pupil and we bring all of the equipment and expertise you'll need.
If you are interested in hearing a bit more about how The PrimeVR can help you with planning your school's next Workshop then why not get in touch here.
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