Showing posts with label VR. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VR. Show all posts

Friday, November 20, 2020

Alternatives to Google Expeditions

Last week's announcement from Google that Google Expeditions will be discontinued in 2021 was disappointing news for many of us. Since then I've answered a handful of questions from people who are looking for alternatives to using the Google Expeditions app. Here's a summary of what I've been saying and suggesting to those looking for an alternative to the Google Expeditions app. 

Don't Rush
The Expeditions app will still function until the end of June, 2021. So if you are currently using it, you don't have to replace it this school year. You have about seven months to search for and test alternatives to the Google Expeditions app. 

Google Arts & Culture
The Google Arts & Culture app includes many of the experiences that are present in Google Expeditions. The one thing that you can't do is guide students on tours. They're on their own to find and navigate through the tours that you want them to see. 

Sites in VR
Sites in VR is a free app that features immersive imagery of notable landmarks around the world. The imagery can be viewed in VR headsets or without them. Unfortunately, there is not any audio accompanying the views in Sites in VR. 

National Geographic
National Geographic's YouTube channel has more than 50 videos that are designed to be watched in virtual reality. In fact, you can find lots of YouTube videos that are intended for viewing in VR by simply refining your search to 360 or 180 VR in YouTube's search filters. See my screenshot below for more information about that. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Four Ways to Create Your Own VR & AR Experiences

Observing and interacting with augmented reality and virtual reality content is nice, but after a while students will get bored with the pre-made commercial content. You can combat some of that boredom by putting students in charge of picking the AR and VR experiences that are of most interest to them while also being relevant to the topic at hand. You can further engage students by having them create their own AR and VR experiences to share with their classmates, with you, and with the world at large.

Here are some options for creating your own virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. These are listed in order of easiest to learn how to use to the most difficult to learn how to use.

Cardboard Camera
Cardboard Camera is a free iOS and Android app offered by Google. The app lets you take a 360 panoramic image that you can share to view in Google Cardboard viewer or similar VR headset. The app will capture any sounds including your voiceover present while capturing the image. Those who use Cardboard Camera on Android can save their VR images in Google Photos where they can be cropped and edited with basic image filters.

Cardboard Camera for Android is available here. Cardboard Camera for iOS is available here.

Here’s a video tutorial on how to use the Cardboard Camera app:



Google Street View App
The Google Street View app for Android and iOS offers more than just a way to view interesting places around the world. The free app includes a camera function that can be used to capture 360 photospheres. When you tap the camera icon in the app it will guide you through taking a series of pictures that will be automatically stitched together to form the photosphere. The completed photosphere can be shared with others in a variety of ways including direct sharing via SMS or email, posting on social media, or by contributing to the Google Maps community.

The Google Street View iOS app is available here. The Google Street View Android app is available here.

Metaverse Studio
Metaverse Studio is a free service for creating your own augmented reality learning experiences. With Metaverse you can create interactive, augmented reality games and challenges for students to complete on their phones or tablets. Metaverse Studio is a block programming (sometimes called visual programming) interface similar in concept to what you will find in the MIT App Inventor and Thunkable. This means that you don't write code. Instead of writing code you create your augmented reality experience by selecting commands and selecting pieces of media from a menu. Put the commands together in the proper sequence and your augmented reality experience can be used on any iOS or Android device.

Mastering Metaverse Studio can take quite a while. That’s not because the service is hard to use. It takes a while to master because there are so many command and logic options that you can employ to create an augmented reality application.

Metaverse does offer an extensive set of tutorial videos. The first of those can be seen below.

Patches from Vizor
Patches is a free program that you can use to develop animated virtual reality experiences. Patches offers animated characters, animals, buildings, and common objects that you can place inside a virtual reality scene. Just drag and drop objects and animations from the selection menus to the Patches design canvas. You can create and customize your VR scenes as much as you like by changing object positioning, color schemes, and even the speed at which an animation moves. You can preview your VR scenes within the Patches editor. Completed projects can be viewed in a VR viewer by just enter the link assigned to your project into your mobile phone's browser.

Monday, April 29, 2019

5 Tips for New Google Expeditions Users

Image copyright: Richard Byrne
Google Expeditions is often the first educational virtual reality tool that I introduce to teachers who come to one of my workshops. Here are five tips that I frequently pass along to teachers who are preparing to use Google Expeditions for the first time. If you have never used Expeditions, you might want to watch this short tutorial and then come back to read these tips.

Download Early
A lot people either don't realize it at first or just forget to do it, if you're going to be the Guide in Expeditions, you need to download the Expedition on which you want to guide your students.

You Don't Have to Lucky Dip
If you open the Google Expeditions app on your phone or tablet and you can browse through the VR and AR tours according to broad topics like science, landscapes, and careers. And you can read a little description of each tour, but you don't really know what lessons you might teach with a tour until you open it and go through it yourself. There is another option for finding Google Expeditions VR and AR tours. That option is found in this list of Expeditions spreadsheet owned by Jennifer Holland that Greg Kulowiec shared with me.

The list of Expeditions spreadsheet includes a list of scenes in each tour, a tour summary, and in some cases a link to a lesson plan. Search through the spreadsheet by using "Ctrl+F" "Command+F" on your keyboard.

Talk to Your IT Person (the sooner the better)
If you want to guide your student in Google Expeditions virtual reality tours you will need to make sure that you and your students are on the same network. In many schools students and teachers are on different wi-fi networks. There are a few solutions to this including buying a Google Expeditions kit from a retailer like Best Buy (most expensive option), using a wireless hotspot (not terribly expensive in most cases), or asking your IT person if he/she can set-up a small network for your classroom (this may require bribing said IT person with chocolate or coffee). Your school's IT person can tell you what options are available to you.

You Can Make Your Own Expeditions
Earlier this year Google announced that you can now view tours that you create with their VR Tour Creator in your Google Expeditions app. The catch is that you must use the same Google account for VR Tour Creator as you do for the Google Expeditions app. Watch my videos below for directions on making your own tour and for viewing it in the Google Expeditions app.



Students Can Explore on Their Own
Being able to guide your students on tours in Google Expeditions is great because you can be relatively certain that they are looking at the tour that you want them to view. But there is a lot to be said for letting students explore on their own in Google Expeditions. Fortunately, Google realized this a couple of years ago and introduced Explorer mode which lets students explore VR and AR tours on their own within the Expeditions app. Watch my video below to see how students can do this.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Introduction to AR & VR in Education

Worlds Are Colliding: Introduction to AR & VR in Education was my first presentation of the day today at the 2019 MACUL Conference. This presentation has been updated a bit since I gave it four weeks ago at a conference in Vancouver, B.C. The updates weren't so much about the slides (although there were a few of those) as they were about what I chose to focus on during the presentation. This time I put more emphasis on the DIY tools that teachers and students can use to create their own virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. Take a look at the slides here or as embedded below.


I do offer hands-on workshops on this topic. If you'd like to have me facilitate one at your school, please get in touch with me here.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Metaverse Studio - Create Your Own Augmented Reality Learning Experiences

Metaverse Studio is a tool for creating your own augmented reality learning experiences. I have been using Metaverse since its launch almost two years ago. Over those two years it has evolved to make it easy for any teacher or student to create augmented reality learning experiences. With Metaverse you can create interactive, augmented reality games and challenges for students to complete on their phones or tablets.

Programming your own AR experience is done through Metaverse Studio. Metaverse Studio is a block programming (sometimes called visual programming) interface. This means that you don't write code. Instead of writing code you create your augmented reality experience by selecting commands and selecting pieces of media from a menu. Put the commands together in the proper sequence and your augmented reality experience can be used on any iOS or Android device. At first glance the Metaverse Studio might look a little intimidating, but after a couple of tries it becomes rather intuitive. It also helps that Metaverse has recently launched a new set of clear video tutorials. The first of those can be seen here.



Moving Your Metaverse Experiences to Phones and Tablets
Once you have created an AR experience in Metaverse Studio you will need to get it onto your students' phones or tablets. When you have finished creating your AR experience in Metaverse Studio hit the "publish" button in the upper, right corner of the editor. The publish button will provide you with a QR code that students can scan to open the experience. The publish button will also give you a link that you can have students open on their phones or tablets. When your students make augmented reality experience in Metaverse they can publish them in the same manner that you can.



Make Collections of Augmented Reality Experiences
Metaverse has a brand new feature designed specifically for teachers and students. That feature is called "collections." The purpose of collections is to provide a place for you as a teacher to have all of your students submit their Metaverse projects. You could arrange your collections according assignment or by class. For example, if you gave your class the assignment to build an AR game about geometry, you would then create a collection called "geometry game" and all students would submit their games to that collection. Collections is a paid feature of Metaverse Studio, but you can try it for free by entering the code "ARforEDU" after clicking on "collections" in your Metaverse Studio account.


What Can You and Your Students Do With Metaverse Studio?
Metaverse Studio can be used to create augmented reality experiences that work as "breakout games,"  as digital scavenger hunts, and as guided tours.

Here's an example of a guided tour made with Metaverse.


And check out this example of using Metaverse Studio to create a breakout game for an 8th grade ELA class.


Disclosure: Metaverse is an advertiser on this blog.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

What is Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality?

Go to any educational technology conference or ed tech blog today and you are bound to encounter augmented reality and virtual reality products. They’re the hot topics of the day in the educational technology industry. Every week I answer questions from readers about AR and VR. One of the patterns I've discerned from answering those questions is that a lot of people aren't clear on what AR and VR really are what is different about the two technologies. Here's a concise overview of AR and VR.

What is Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality?
Augmented Reality (AR) displays digital content (video, picture, animation) in a physical world. This is digital content is typically displayed on your mobile phone or internet-connected tablet. The display of digital content is often triggered by location. Pokemon Go is a mainstream example of augmented reality displays triggered by location.

The other way the display of digital content can be triggered is by focusing the camera of your phone or tablet on an object. You’ll find examples of this in children’s books that have companion AR apps. Kids can read the book and scan the book’s pages with a companion app to see digital content.

Virtual Reality (VR) is a digital experience is typically displayed inside a virtual reality headset or viewer like Google Cardboard. The digital content that you see is not dependent on your current physical location, but it does require that you have a VR viewer. Fortunately, VR viewers are inexpensive. You can get ones that are suitable for classroom use for under ten dollars on Amazon and many other retailers. You can even make your own VR headset. A quick search on YouTube for “DIY Virtual Reality Headset” will lead you to lots of videos on how to make your own VR headset.

Apps to Quickly See How AR & VR Works
Like most things in educational technology, it’s better to try AR & VR than to just read about it. Here are a couple of apps that will let you quickly and easily experience AR & VR.

Plum's Creaturizer from PBS Kids is a free iOS and Android app that lets students create fun cartoon creatures and then place them into outdoor settings through the use of augmented reality. The purpose of the app is to have students learn and show how the characteristics of an animal help it thrive in its environment.

Google Expeditions has AR and VR experiences. The AR content in Google Expeditions lets students view and manipulate digital content in a physical world context. The AR content can be used as components in science, math, geography, history, and art lessons. Some examples of the more than 100 AR experiences that you'll find in the app include landforms, the skeletal system, dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, the brain, and the Space Race.

To use the AR content available through Google Expeditions you will need to print marker or trigger sheets that students scan with their phones or tablets. Once scanned the AR imagery appears on the screen. (You can actually preview some of the imagery without scanning a marker, but the imagery will not be interactive or 3D). Students don't need to look through a Cardboard viewer in order to see the AR imagery. You can get the Google Expeditions Android app here and the iOS version here.

The Smithsonian has a neat VR app called VR Hangar. The app, available on iOS and Android devices, contains three virtual reality tours about landmark moments in aviation history. Those moments are the Wright Brothers' first flight, Chuck Yeager's record-breaking flight in the Bell X-1, and the Apollo 11 mission. You can use VR Hangar with or without a VR headset, but it is much better with a VR headset.

Come to the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp to learn more about AR and VR and how you can use it in your classroom. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Immersive Reader in Virtual Reality

Immersive Reader is one of my three favorite Microsoft products (the others others are Hacking STEM and Flipgrid). Today at the BETT Show I got to try a new implementation of Immersive Reader. That implementation is in virtual reality.

Immersive Reader in VR is a beta product. In fact, I was told by representatives of Microsoft that Immersive Reader in VR has only been shown to the public this week.

Immersive Reader in VR brings the experiences of Immersive Reader including line highlighting, syllable differentiation, and text read-aloud to a VR headset. According to the Microsoft employees that I spoke with today,  early trials of Immersive Reader in VR have proven to improve focus of readers by blocking out distractions. It has also been proven to make text accessible to readers who have previously been unable to access documents for a variety of reasons including vision.

One of the things that impressed me when I tried Immersive Reader in VR today was the ability to put up "walls" around the VR experience. Those walls were simple white walls that made the VR experience feel less enclosed that some other virtual reality experiences that I have tried. I generally start to feel trapped and unbalanced by VR experiences if I'm in them for more than a minute, I didn't feel that way when I implemented the "walls" option in the Immersive Reader in VR experience.

When Will It Be Available?
That was the question that I had for Microsoft's representatives today. They didn't have a firm date that they could share. I'll be sure to share it as soon as I know.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Vizor 360 is Now Free for All - Create Interactive 360 Imagery

Vizor offers great tools for creating interactive 360 imagery. I've previously covered their Patches program for creating animated VR because that was the free service that they offered. Now their core product Vizor 360 is available for free too.

Vizor 360 lets you upload a series of pictures and then stitch them together. After you have stitched your pictures together to create a 360 image you can then add interactive elements to it. Those interactive elements can be links to websites, audio, and additional text and image overlays. A completed project can be viewed and interacted with in a web browser and or a VR headset.

Applications for Education
Vizor 360 could be a great tool for students to use to create interactive imagery of places that they have visited as part of a class or school field trip. Adding interactive elements to the imagery enables students to link to Google Docs they've created about the imagery and or to include audio of themselves talking about the imagery.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Introduction to Using Google Expeditions in Your Classroom

Google Expeditions is one of my favorite virtual reality apps for students and teachers. The app provides hundreds of virtual reality experiences for students. There are VR experiences that can be used in social studies, science, and art classes. The guide mode in Expeditions is fantastic for pacing activities inside of the app. Rather than just having students looking through a VR tour you can direct them to specific places within a tour and ask them questions about the places that you have directed them to. In the following video I demonstrate how to guide students in the Google Expeditions app.


As mentioned in the video you need to make sure that you and your students are using the same wi-fi network. You don't, however, need to all use the same type of device. In the video above I used my Android phone in guide mode and an iPad in the join mode.

The iPad version of Google Expeditions lets students explore imagery by dragging the imagery. The iPhone and Android versions of Google Expeditions are designed for use in a VR viewer. I have used and been happy with the VR viewers from VeeR, Knox Labs, and Printor. Printor offers the cheapest ones at just $5.99.

Get the Google Expeditions iPad app here.
Get the Google Expeditions Android app here.

Join my Teaching History With Technology course to learn more about using virtual reality in history classes. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Slides and Notes from LACUE

I've just wrapped-up two days of giving presentations at the LACUE conference in New Orleans. A huge thank you to the conference organizers for inviting me and to everyone who came to my presentations. If you're curious about what I spoke about at the conference, my slides and brief notes are included below.

Best of the Web
I'm asked to do this presentation at every conference I go to. It highlights some of my favorite new tools and favorite tools updated in 2018.


5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons
This is a presentation that I started giving at conference during the summer. It is increasing in popularity every time that I do it. Highlights of this presentation include incorporating augmented reality into outdoor lessons.


Fast & Fun Formative Assessments
This is a perennial favorite that includes quite a bit of audience participation in the demonstration of various formative assessment tools.


Worlds are Colliding: Introduction to AR & VR in Education
This presentation is exactly what it says on the tin. I feature some of the best ways to get your feet wet with augmented reality and virtual reality in education. I also include a bit of research in these fields in the presentation.


Quick & Powerful Video Projects
This presentation features five classroom video projects that you can do in a relatively short amount of time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

How to Share Your Google VR Tours With Students

Over the last few weeks I have received a lot of emails from readers who had made virtual reality tours in Google's VR Tour Creator but then ran into difficulty sharing those tours with their students. To answer those questions I made the following video that demonstrates how you can share your VR tours with students.


Learn more about how to use Google's VR Tour Creator by watching this video that I made earlier this year.



Google's VR Tour Creator is one of the tools that I feature in depth in my Teaching History With Technology course. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Spreadsheet of Phones That Do and Don't Support Google Expeditions

Yesterday, I answered an email from a participant in my recent Intro to VR & AR webinar. She was having trouble getting Google Expeditions to work on one of her phones. I did a little research and found that the phone she was trying to use Expeditions on didn't have a gyroscope. The absence of a gyroscope made Expeditions not work as expected. I was able to discover that information with the help of Andrew Caffrey's spreadsheet of devices that do and don't support Google Expeditions.

Andrew Caffrey's site has other good information for teachers who are interested in learning more about Google Expeditions including directions for making your own Google Cardboard viewer.

On a related note, Roman UrsuHack offers the following video that provides an overview of making your own VR viewer.


The template that Roman UrsuHack follows in the video can be found here (link opens a PDF).

Friday, February 9, 2018

5 Good Resources for Health Teachers

Yesterday afternoon I ran into one of my old colleagues who asked me for some recommendations for tech tools that she could use in her health classes. One of the suggestions that I made was to try the Cardio VR app. I also promised to come up with some other suggestions. In this video I feature five good resources for health teachers.

Monday, January 29, 2018

LinguaPracticaVR - Learn English in Virtual Reality

Update August 2019: This app is no longer available. 

As I walked around the BETT Show last week there seemed to be a vendor selling a virtual reality product at every turn. LinguaPracticaVR is one of those VR products that I tested.

LinguaPracticaVR offers free English lessons in a virtual reality context. LinguaPracticaVR builds short lessons into virtual reality images of places in Ireland and the United Kingdom. For example, in the screenshot below you will see an image of the Powerscourt Waterfall. Within that image there are three short lessons about the words used to describe what is seen in the image.

Applications for Education
LinguaPracticaVR is a still in the early phases of its development, but there is excellent potential for its use as an instructional tool. One thing to note is that it seems to be built with high school age or older ELL/ ESL learners. I say that because one of the tours includes a visit to a pub.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Patches - Create Your Own Virtual Reality Environments

In the past I've featured Google's Cardboard Camera and Street View apps as tools for creating simple virtual reality imagery. Those tools are great if you want to capture immersive images of physical environments and share those images with others. But if you want to create completely drawn and animated virtual reality scenes, then you'll want to try Patches.

Patches is a free online tool for creating virtual reality scenes. Patches offers animated characters, animals, buildings, and common objects that you can place inside a virtual reality scene. Just drag and drop objects and animations from the selection menus to the Patches design canvas. You can create and customize your VR scenes as much as you like by changing object positioning, color schemes, and even the speed at which an animation moves. You can preview your VR scenes within the Patches editor. Completed projects can be viewed in a VR viewer by just enter the link assigned to your project into your mobile phone's browser.

Applications for Education
Students could use Patches to create virtual reality environments in which a fiction story is brought to life in VR. Patches could be used by students to create simulations of historical events. As someone in the Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group pointed out, Patches could be used in math classes to help students further their understanding of geometry concepts.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

DIY VR Viewer

The post immediately preceding this one featured the new "solo" mode for Google Expeditions. Expeditions is the mobile app that allows users to experience virtual reality tours when they place their phones into virtual reality viewers like the Google Cardboard viewers. If you can't buy VR viewers for your classroom or you just like DIY projects, it is possible to make your own VR viewer with just a few common materials. YouTube "celebrity" Roman UrsuHack offers the following video that provides an overview of making your own VR viewer.


The template that Roman UrsuHack follows in the video can be found here (link opens a PDF).

By the way, folks coming to the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp next week will get a chance to create their own VR viewers. There is still time to register to join us

Students Can Now Guide Themselves In Google Expeditions

On Wednesday Google released an update to Google Expeditions that allows students and others to guide themselves on Google Expeditions. Expeditions are Google's Virtual Reality experiences that can be viewed through the Expeditions app on phones placed in Google Cardboard Viewers. The new "solo" mode in Expeditions (currently only for Android) lets students view Google's virtual reality Expeditions without guidance from a teacher. In the "solo" Expeditions students can choose "Explorer" mode and they will see highlighted information included about the places they're viewing in virtual reality.


Applications for Education
The critic in me wonders why it took so long for "solo" mode to be added to Google Expeditions. It will be great to let students choose what they see and experience in a virtual reality expedition rather than being guided along by someone else. That said, I still view virtual reality is a supplement to other instructional resources. Just dropping students into a virtual reality experience without having them first understand the context of the experience is a mistake.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Practical Ed Tech Live - Episode #11

This afternoon my daughter and I recorded the eleventh episode of my almost weekly series, Practical Ed Tech Live. In every episode I answer a handful of the questions that I've received from readers. The recording of the episode is embedded below.


The list of questions and my recommended resources can be found in this Google Document.

Friday, June 2, 2017

4 Virtual Reality Videos About Antarctica

Virtual reality is giving many of us the opportunity to see places that we may never visit in a level of detail that could never be experienced through print or even 2D video. For example, thanks to The New York Times VR app (available for iOS and Android) we can now experience parts of Antarctica in virtual reality. As a part of their Antarctica series The New York Times has published four short films (9-15 minutes) that can be viewed in virtual reality.

The virtual reality films in series not only take viewers out on the ice and frozen ground of Antarctica, they also take you below the surface of the ice and through valleys between mountains in Antarctica.

It should be noted that these films can be viewed without virtual reality headsets. If you view them that way, they won't have the immersive 360 degree views that can be experienced with the VR app and viewer.

Additional Resources for Learning About Antarctica
Since 2012 Google has offered Street View imagery of parts of Antarctica.

The Antarctic Food Web Game is an online game produced by WGBH to support middle school lessons on food chains and Antarctica. The simple game presents students with charts and tables about animals and plants found around Antarctica. Students have to take the information presented to them to create a correct food web. The key to creating a correct food web is understanding where various animals fit in the food chain.

Who owns Antarctica? That's an interesting question that many of my geography students wondered and asked over the years. The answer to that question is a clear and simple one. As more people, countries, and companies explore the continent it will become more and more important to define what can or cannot be done in Antarctica. CGP Grey tackles these issues in his video Who Owns Antarctica?



H/T to The Adventure Blog for the NYT videos.