Day 2: Oculus Headsets
When Oculus first released its standalone VR headset, I immediately ran down to Best Buy to purchase my very own Oculus Go. The device was incredibly easy to set up, and my first conversation in the headset was with Amanda Fox. We were shocked by how clearly our discussion was heard in the headset while those standing around us couldn’t hear anything.
I found a ton of educational content for the Go, especially within a few months after the release day. I only spent money on one app that I decided was worth the purchase. Since the device mainly used while sitting, I found that it was much easier to immediately use the Go in the classroom as opposed to many of the other VR headsets at that time. The negative I found with being stationary is that my brain had a harder time adjusting to virtual reality, and I would get sick if I stayed too long in the headset.
Fast forward about a year later, and I was again rushing to Best Buy to purchase the latest Oculus release, the Oculus Quest. WOW! This device packs a huge punch with incredible content, graphics, experiences, and different from the Go, the user could get up and explore in virtual reality. Unlike the Oculus Go, I have yet to get sick. I believe this is true because I am up moving around while exploring in VR. I also pay for most of my apps in the Quest because most of the educational content I want to showcase ranges from $15-$30.
A few things to keep in mind when deciding to purchase a VR headset:
The most important consideration when deciding to get a virtual reality headset for the classroom is the safety of your students. If you find that your students are unable to handle being in a headset, don’t push the experience and offer an alternative learning option (such as a 360 YouTube video on the same content).
If your students are under 13, the Oculus Go or the Quest is not for them. I’ve heard many districts trying to push the devices for the elementary classroom, and that’s not only dangerous, but it places the school liable for any potential problems. Please don’t push the technology, especially when it could be a danger for our students.
I get many questions about the management issue with the Oculus Go or the Quest. There are some other headsets out there that do a great job of managing what the students have access to and what they see on their screen at all times. The Oculus Go and Quest wasn’t made for classroom sets, so while a few devices will be easier to manage at stations, purchasing hundreds of these devices is going to be a big problem to set up and continue to manage in the district and the classroom.
The content in the store will display apps that aren’t educationally focused. Keep in mind that your students can search through the other apps. How will you handle this possible situation, and how will that affect your classroom management? I recommend having your plan and expectations clearly established before the students put on the devices.
While the Oculus Go allows students to explore while sitting down, the Oculus Quest will let students get up and explore in VR. This feature is fantastic, but you will need to arrange for students to explore in an open area without obstacles and possible dangers. In the Quest, the Guardian, which I refer to as the “playable area” can be adjusted to fit the space you provide, but the more room to explore, the better.
The cost for the Oculus Go now starts at $149, and the Oculus Quest starts at $399. These prices are appealing to our classrooms, but there are other costs to consider. First, make sure to have cleaning supplies part of your budget. Don’t be the teacher that passes around pink eye. Second, how will you pay for the apps? The credit card requirement seems to be the biggest obstacle for schools when they try to purchase the apps. Keep in mind that you’ll need to pay for the app on each device.
One of the latest features released by Oculus in the Quest is the hand tracking technology in some of the apps. Essentially, students can use their hands and gestures to control the scene rather than depend on controllers. That is a powerful new feature that will change the way our students engage in digital spaces in the future.
Now that you’ve created a plan and purchased the right virtual reality headset, you’ll need some apps. Keep in mind that the Oculus Go has been around longer, thus having more apps available. You will also notice some of the same apps available on both devices. I’ve listed a few to get you started.
The Body VR
Notes on Blindness
Anne Frank House VR
Looking Glass VR
Nature Treks VR
National Geographic Explorer
Notes on Blindness
Anne Frank House VR
If you're ready to buy the Go, then you're in luck with the reduced price of $149! If you're ready to buy the Quest, then you'll need to wait. With the headsets being built in China, the production has been drastically affected this spring. You may find that the headsets may take some time to catch up with the demand.
This blog is part of the #31DaysofARVRinEDU event. Expect a new augmented or virtual reality resource for the classroom to post every day in March. All subscribers will receive daily notifications.
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