May 16, 2018
For years I’ve shied away from it. Today, I’m breaking my silence.
Ignorance was–and sometimes still is–bliss.
What is augmented reality? What is virtual reality? What is the difference?
The world of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can really light up your eyes. Literally. With a pair of goggles, you can find yourself walking thru the rain forest, swimming thru the Great Barrier Reef, or even grasping the rings of Saturn. You can manipulate or transform a two-dimensional picture into a three-dimensional hologram. It’s almost like you’re living in an enhanced–or a whole new–world.
Blogger’s Warning: This next part may upset some readers, and I’m sharing, because I sincerely want to be proven wrong. I want you to change my mind. #ARVRinEDU is cool, and I think it has genuine potential for substantial learning. Someday.
Especially as a fourteen-year, former fifth grade classroom teacher, I’ve really wrestled with integrating AR/VR for these reasons:
- Learning Value: AR/VR is flashy and fun, but do kids learn anything?
- Learning Potential: Can I prove that AR/VR enhances standards-based learning?
- Cost: If I’m questioning the learning value, how can I beg my PTA, Donor’s Choose, or grant opportunities that 3D is worth the cost compared to other requests?
- Time: Is the setup time worth the potential student learning experienced?
- Technology: Are accounts licensed, paid or free, requiring email?
- Legalities: Is it age-appropriate, school-appropriate, district-approved?
- Longevity: Will I use it more than once a year?
- Flexibility: Can I use it for more than one lesson or subject?
These are just a few criteria educators consider when selecting resources to facilitate meaningful learning experiences.
When evaluating resources for any learning experience, I think educators far too often choose one OR the other. Either something is really fun, but doesn’t instill a meaningful sense of learning, or something is grounded in standards and fails to connect with kids.
But why is that? Why does standards-based learning imply little fun, while having fun implies minimal, substantial learning?
I’m not settling. I refuse to choose between the two. I want BOTH. I want both fun AND learning. And I want it now!
One of the biggest challenges in education today is facilitating learning experiences that are meaningful, memorable, relevant, engaging, fun, and student-centered, while still learning curriculum and standards.
I guess my personal conflict with AR/VR began long ago. I saw little to no learning value or potential with coloring a picture on a paper, scanning it, and looking at a 3D hologram that popped up in your face–which was really cool–albeit with few interactive options, student ownership, or creation opportunities.
And I tried. HARD. So, so badly, I wanted this really cool-looking gadget to inspire learning and empower students. A huge part of me also wanted to wow my students with something they hadn’t seen before. I wanted to be the first of my colleagues to do this. I wanted to see students’ eyes light up. I wanted to be that teacher that was techy and cool.
But I just couldn’t do it.
I couldn’t settle. I saw fun and engaging, but I saw little learning value in the coloring activities brought to life by this very popular augmented reality app.
Still, AR/VR plays a huge role in the world beyond our public education settings. Doctors, engineers, and even lawyers use AR/VR to enhance their work through simulation. Therefore, there must be some considerable, real world value in AR/VR, but we just haven’t seen it come into fruition in a meaningful way in our learning spaces. Yet. Right?
But then again, I really don’t know that much about AR/VR. Do I have it all wrong? Is AR/VR more about the experience, and not specific learning targets?
Am I on the right track here? Please provide feedback and comment below.
(End Blogger’s Warning)
Recently, I attended Edcamp Beach. Eager to learn, I participated in a session on #ARVRinEDU. An instructional technology facilitator (who I had followed on twitter for a long time) had Merge Cubes. As a result, I finally tried VR. I bought in to Merge Cubes and the Dig! for Merge Cubes app. Here’s why:
- I had a chance to try it out at an edcamp first.
- I had advice from a specialist in the field.
- Merge Cubes cost $1.00 each.
- I spent my own money.
- Many Merge Cube apps are free.
- Dig! for Merge Cubes app is for 3D creation (not consumption).
- Merge Cubes are both screens AND hands-on learning.
- I envisioned fun AND learning thru real-world challenges.
- I proved standards-based learning waaay before investment.
My Journey So Far:
I'm learning about @MergeVR from @jeannietimken at #edcampbeach. I wonder if this could enhance first, third, and fourth graders learning #nced science objectives #sci1E11, #sci1E12, #sci3E11, #sci4E11, and #sci4E12. #ddestem pic.twitter.com/sFA4N6zfsd
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) April 28, 2018
"WHOA! It's like a mini #minecraft!" (#simcity?) First graders create a city with options for lava, sand, water, brick, wood, grass, crystal, window, rock, and buildings in @MergeVR's Dig app. #sci1E21 #ss1H11 #ss1G11 #ss1G12 #ddestem pic.twitter.com/nzZnvsFfWp
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 2, 2018
I want tech folks to confidently recommend. I want classroom Ts to confidently implement. I'm not settling until I get BOTH. I'm investigating to what extent #ARVRinEDU can be both engaging AND standards-based. Third grade creates landforms. #sci3E21 #sci3E22 #ddestem #hashtag180 pic.twitter.com/HEOaadzfgk
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 3, 2018
Volcanoes, mountains, rivers, oceans… Our own version of the G6 Summit? Kinda. On each @MergeVR Cube side, create landforms to represent each of the original G6 countries. Which country had the most volcanoes? #sci3E21 #sci3E22 #ss3G15 #Hashtag180 #ARVRinEDU #ddestem #SwimFwd pic.twitter.com/kSW3FqHPFw
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 3, 2018
These first graders loved building with @MergeVR! What landforms are needed to create Hawaii in 3D? #sci1L21 #sci1L12 #sci1L13 #ddestem pic.twitter.com/fpP1dubde3
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 8, 2018
So focused on birds-eye, aerial view to learn NC Science Essential Standards #sci4E23 & #sci4P23, that I nearly forgot to celebrate tilting & turning #MergeCube for @MergeVR's 3D perspective. We're demonstrating landform-changing processes in Hawaii. #ARVRinEDU #ddestem #SwimFwd pic.twitter.com/GH2CIrUAU4
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 9, 2018
3D gave students the opportunity to demonstrate evidence of an earthquake, weathering, erosion, deposition, and imminent volcanic eruptions. Here, fourth graders explain with @MergeVR's Dig app. #ARVRinEDU #sci4E23 #ddestem #SwimFwd Real World Reference: https://t.co/lR160Ajeof pic.twitter.com/lGSp1g400N
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 9, 2018
When I get out of the way, I marvel at students' improvisation. When there arent't any iPad stands left, make your own or join another group! #mergecube #ARVRinEDU #4Cs #SwimFwd #ddestem pic.twitter.com/bXL6GwClVm
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 10, 2018
Another thing I I like about @MergeVR's #ARVRinEDU on #MergeCube is that it's BOTH screen AND #handsonlearning. Here, second graders tilt their "Hawaii" cube at about 45° to show how their volcano is taller than community buildings. #ddestem #math2MD4 #math2MD9 #SwimFwd pic.twitter.com/MvkQvPZ9Pr
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 11, 2018
We Dig @MergeVR's #mergecube kind of #arvrinedu because it's standards-based AND fun, screens AND #handsonlearning. After creating Hawaii, third graders tilt their models to build 3D evidence of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions underground. #ddestem #sci3E22 #sci4E23 #SwimFwd pic.twitter.com/CKrRJ6LYM6
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 14, 2018
We're not learning how-to-merge-cube. Rather, first graders use #mergecube to simulate Hawaiian landforms, learning how to summarize physical properties of earth materials & express length of an object with smaller, same-size units. #sci1E21 #math1MD2 #ARVRinEDU #SwimFwd #ddestem pic.twitter.com/nXi0xNvpNz
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 15, 2018
I've done a lot of research. I'm always seeking to learn. Yet, I still arrive at the same place. I'm NOT doing it. I'm not settling. I want BOTH. I want both learning AND fun. Why is it that standards-based implies no fun, and fun implies little substance? #HamstraHighlights
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 12, 2018
DYK? Kilauea isn't really a tall mountain. It's a shield volcano with several fissures. What's a fissure? How high did the eruption launch sediments into the air? These second graders were excited to share what they created. #sci2P21 #sci3E22 #sci4E23 #ddestem #ARVRinEDU #SwimFWD pic.twitter.com/G7PnFm2BL6
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 18, 2018
Things To ❤ Here:
1) Kinder's message!
2) RW connection.
3) 3D creation @MergeVR's Dig!
5) Fun AND standards-based.
6) Kilauea AND its fissures.#sciKP11 #sciKE11 #sci1E21 #sci2P21 #sci3E22 #sci4E23 #sci4P23 #sci5L23 #ddestem #Hashtag180 #SwimFwd #ARVRinEDU #isteSS6C pic.twitter.com/EPBKvtWcXQ
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 18, 2018
"This is our Hawaii. You can see [#Kilaeua's] lava going in to the [Pacific Ocean] water." First graders also added fissures to help "summarize physical properties of earth materials." #sci1E21 #ddestem @MergeVR #ARVRinEDU #SwimFwd pic.twitter.com/9wThSdrR7z
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 22, 2018
When we use twitter to #ArchiveShareTell, kinders can see yesterday's examples of first graders creating #Kilauea's laze (steam from lava flowing into Pacific Ocean) on @MergeVR's Dig! app before they make their own. #sciKE11 #sciKP11 #sci1E21 #ARVRinEDU #ddestem #Hashtag180 pic.twitter.com/m1pigkxGJi
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 23, 2018
3 Replies to “Hesitant to #ARVRinEDU”
Kyle, I teach 3rd over at Underwood, and we recently hosted Google to demo their AR Expeditions. We are studying the skeletal system, and I used this experience for students to dig deeper into the standards. They were able to identify ball and socket, hinge, gliding, and pivot joints. They were able to tell me that of the 22 bones in the skull, 8 were cranial bones and 14 were facial bones. I was able to highlight the five types of bones and students identified them and could see that flat bones like the ribs and sternum provide protection, long bones like the femur provide support, and short bones like phalanges are helpful for movement. Don’t get me wrong, they could do this with a simple diagram, as well. But, their level of engagement was through the roof. They were taking notes, exploring, and asking and answering questions. Yes, it was loud. Yes, I had to use a lot of call and response to make sure everyone was focused on the questions I was asking. But, overall I was able to teach the standards with AR in an engaging and meaningful way! I’d say give it another try!
Hi, Megan. First of all, thanks for taking time to read and comment, I really appreciate that. And what an exciting way to teach #sci3L11.
Sounds like the 3D experience greatly inspired and enhanced their learning. Thanks for the encouragement to give it another try.
My only question though–Is it sustainable? Do you still have access to Google AR Expeditions? Can you do it again next week, or what is the cost to purchase? I’ve heard so much about those in recent months, but I’ve always been scared to ask exactly these kinds of questions. Then again, if it’s to enliven student learning, then I guess these are exactly the kinds of questions we should be asking.
Hope all is well, and thanks for stopping by!
Hi Kyle and Megan,
I am here for the discussion! The answer to your question you posed to Megan are no…the AR experience was a beta test. We benefited from their study. With the year’s worth of feedback they collected, they will create the Pioneer AR program for a later release. It, like expeditions (VR), will be free and AR will be even more accessible to do over and over more so than the VR. With VR, you do need to acquire goggles and devices to fit inside them. But from there, it is a free app with over 700 expeditions to embark on. The feedback I gave our Google Pioneer rep was that I liked the AR better than the VR because 1) there is more face to face interaction being outside the goggles…you are still in the room with each other and 2) you can do it on ANY device able to run the app…phone, iPods, iPads….way more accessible. But there is absolutely genuine standards based learning from both if you take the lead and be a stong facilitator, guiding the discussions, asking the inquire questions….and why not model enough to let the KIDS create their own scripts and inquiries as time goes by?!
As for your experience that turned you off years ago with the coloring a picture and seeing it pop up into 3D that lacked SCOS….and with the so far inaccessible AR program, I think it is extremely important to expose kids to the potential of the future. You have heard as many times as I have that we are preparing kids for a future we can’t even predict yet. I think there is sincere value in exposing kids to “potential” of technology in order for them to set their sights on creative applications of other opportunities you might provide them. I think it is BETTER to expose them to such “non SCOS” opportunities in our presence (at school) where we can suggest useful applications of these things more so than letting them explore ONLY at home where they may waste the connection to real learning.
So, not everything has to be SCOS every single moment. Sometimes critical thinking alone is a good thing. And planting a seed may lead to unimaginable outcomes down the road. Go ahead and make sure you are teaching your curriculum with fidelity, but why not plant a seed by itself from time to time? The 4Cs are a separate piece of the Strategic Plan…often able to be interwoven with standards, but they, too, can stand alone and that is still ok!