How Virtual Reality can be an option in Work Based Learning

The world of Virtual Reality may seem either an expensive possibility for training providers, or a mere gimmick. However with the release of Google Cardboard this offers low cost, immersive ways to engage learners. This device costs under £25 so it is cheap enough to experiment with and with Google reporting that over 1 million devices are already in the hands of users from all ages, it demonstrates that the educational applications are clearly endless.

Photo by Othree

Photo by Othree

Google Cardboard is exactly what it says, a headset made of cardboard (though there are now plastic and neoprene versions that are harder wearing). The headset comes flat-packed for you to assemble. Once constructed you place your Android phone (for once it’s Android only not Apple!) into the back of the housing. It uses two small plastic lenses to convert your phone screen into a stereoscopic viewer, think of it like an updated ViewMaster.

There are some demo apps available for it which exploit this 3D experience, coupled with headphones they do give a really immersive feel. However what is on offer so far is very much aimed at the entertainment market. Where it does offer possibilities is when you make use of another Google Camera apps and the Photo Sphere option.

Using Google Camera you can take a 360⁰ photo of a location (useful tutorial on using the app). The resulting image can be viewed through the Google Cardboard app. There are also a wealth of images out there you can make use of, including ones from the moon landings. The app makes use of the inbuilt gyroscope with north stored on the image to rotate your view as you move giving a credible sensation of ‘being there’.
J Bloxham Exeter 1 JuneIn terms of how this can be used with learners, it offers exciting possibilities. As a paired exercise a panorama of a location could be used as a hazard perception exercise as part of Health and Safety training. Partner one views for one minute and calls out potential hazards and partner two writes them down. Then they swap over. This could be treated as a competition and bring a bit of fun into what can be a dry topic.

Alternatively learners could take photospheres of their workplace to bring in and showcase their work with tutors. Imagine someone doing painting and decorating showing a 360 view of a room they’ve worked on. Or using it as a way share their workplace with other learners.

Other possibilities with the device are 3D videos from YouTube. There are 3D videos posted there for the Oculus Rift and other immersive headsets that may be viewable through the device.

Judy Bloxham
Educational Technology Consultant

Useful links: Community for photospheres
Why The Oculus Rift Can Engage Students Better Than Any Teacher
Why is Immersive Education Important?

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