DA op-ed: Exploring the world through AR/VR

Augmented and virtual reality tools provide never-before learning experiences to help students "travel" anywhere—even outer space.
By: | August 6, 2019
Rachelle Dene Poth is a foreign language and STEAM teacher at Riverview Junior/Senior High in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. She will be a featured speaker at DA’s Future of Education Technology Conference®.

Augmented (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are becoming more commonly used in classrooms as a way to promote more authentic and immersive learning experiences for students. These unique tools enable educators to transform “how” students are learning, by taking students on virtual trips and opening a world of opportunities for them to explore.

Through these augmented and virtual reality tools, we can provide never before possible learning experiences, such as travel and the use of holograms, and make it possible for students to travel anywhere around the world or outer space even to explore.

Imagine the impact on learning when students can interact with the content in ways that traditional tools such as textbooks and videos cannot provide.

Tools to try for AR/VR explorations

Google Tour Builder is a way for teachers and students to create their own tours for use in the classroom or to share with other classrooms globally. By creating an interactive story or tour, we can offer more meaningful ways for students to learn about places they are studying and even have students create their own tours to narrate a trip that they have taken.

Creating with Tour Builder is easy and you can even upload your own images and videos or select images from the Google Street View options. Why not have students create a tour of their town or their school to share within the school community or to exchange with global connections? We did this in our Spanish III and IV classes as part of our Project-based learning and it really engaged students more in the learning activities.

Google Expeditions is a free tool that can be used to take students on field trips to virtually anywhere. It is an app that can be downloaded using either Google Play or the App Store, with more than 800 virtual reality tours and 100 augmented reality lessons to choose from.

The VR tours include options such as visiting famous locations, exploring career paths, and gaining a better understanding about global initiatives. Students can also interact more the AR objects by placing it in their physical space and exploring them closely. Using the app, teachers (guides) lead the students (explorers) by following the script provided and asking some of the guiding questions that are included within each tour. When time is an issue, teachers do not have to worry about needing a lot of time to get started with Google Expeditions, everything is provided for them.

Nearpod enables students to experience Virtual Reality through the use of 3D shapes, or go on a Virtual Field Trip powered by 360 cities. Something unique that was added to the VR library are the College Tours.

What a great way to have students “visit” different colleges without having to travel the distance to do so. Students can explore the campus more closely, although not a full replacement for being able to physically visit, it gives students a chance to explore many colleges from wherever they are.

Taking the first step

Which tools do you currently use to amplify or facilitate student learning? How do they impact how, what, where and when students learn? Could one of these AR/VR tools be used instead?

Choose one and try it out with your students. See how they respond to it and ask for feedback. If it worked well for them, great. And if not, then try another tool and keep exploring with them.

The idea is to engage students more in different and more meaningful learning opportunities and an added benefit is that these will provide opportunities to move students from being consumers to creators.

One of the reasons I love attending FETC is because there are so many options available to learn about cutting edge technologies like AR/VR

My Advice? Start thinking about your own personal goals and how you would like to use augmented and virtual reality in your classroom, or even with faculty or members of your school community.

The use of AR/VR is not specific to any grade level or content area and can be fun and engaging for everyone to explore and learn from.


Rachelle Dene Poth is a Spanish and STEAM Teacher at Riverview Junior/Senior High in Oakmont, PA. She will be a featured speaker at DA’s FETC 2020.


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