If you’ve followed the blog over the years, you’ll know that I’ve always been a fan of exploring emerging technologies and the possibilities they have for Physical Education. However, I often hold off on sharing many of the things I’ve been exploring until the technologies have matured. In recent times, there has been no better example than Virtual Reality. with 2016 truly being the year it begins to hit the mainstream.
So what is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality came to the public’s attention in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, from computer scientist Jaron Lanier who introduced the world to the term. Virtual reality is essentially an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user accepts it as a real environment. Most typically this is done through the use of a headset, engaging two of the five senses: sight and sound.
My First Experience!
I remember visiting a video game arcade at the age of 10 to play some sort of polygon plane game that used a ridiculously large headset to simulate flying.
It was terrible. So bad that I never even bothered to tell my friends about the experience I hadLittle did I know at the time, but developments in the field would continue at the pace of Moore’s Law. This means that every year since I was 10, virtual reality technologies would double in their power and half in their cost. With each exponential leap, the technology brought about new possibilities until it reached a point where it was no longer gimmick, but a disruptive force that cannot be dismissed.
So what does it mean for Education?
Over the past two years, well over $5 billion has been invested in VR by all of the major technology companies, from Google to Microsoft. This investment is accelerating the technology being brought to the mainstream helping people to realise the inevitable disruption it will have in all industries. VR will ultimately impact everything from real estate to retail and healthcare and education.
Let’s consider VR as a valuable device and potential improvement to human interaction, uniting individuals from around the globe to draw in and collaborate — paying little mind to social, financial or geographic incongruities A lot of this early educational application into VR learning has focused on biology, anatomy, geology and astronomy — as they are notably enriched through interaction with dimensional objects, animals and environments. However, this is truly just the beginning of the deeply immersive virtual reality experiences that will impact our classrooms.
How Does it Work?
It’s really quite easy to get started with Virtual Reality experiences, all you need is headset and mobile device. Headsets to range in quality and price, but you can get going for less than $20 with Google Cardboard. See below;
As you might have noticed, Google Cardboard is exactly that, Cardboard enabling you to quickly insert your mobile device running a virtual reality experience into the insert. You can then place the headset on and start experiencing the power of VR. Other popular headset options include; Samsung Gear VR
What about Physical Education?
It’s still very early days, but quite a few exciting opportunities already exist for those involved in teaching practical & theoretical physical education & health concepts. With this in mind, here are some of my favourite apps, tools and resources to kick start your Virtual Reality journey.
Available for FREE on both iOS & Android devices – this virtual reality experience places you directly inside the human body. You’ll learn and identify the human anatomy from the inside and in 3D as if you were navigating inside a minimally invasive procedure.
This app simulates the feelings of being involved in a penalty goal kick with the top players. Place your VR headset on and you’re immediately placed into the action standing behind the goals. The ball is kicked and you have to react in the same manner as you would in a real context. Sure, it might just be a simulation – but the decision making needed is virtually identical and lots of fun.
Jorge Rodriguez recently posted an incredible example of a virtual reality experience he pieced together using the CoSpaces. In his example students wearing a VR headset were able to interact within the virtual world to complete a 10 minute workout. See below and imagine if you were standing in the middle and looking around the room. Incredible.
These days its super easy to access 360 degree videos perfect for experiencing through a VR headset. Simply visit the following section of YouTube to see a collection of videos of all topics. The best example of PE Centric YouTube videos comes from the amazing Jorge Rodriguez 360 Degree video channel on YouTube which places you inside his classroom as if you were there. While it might seem trivial, this is the future of PE program advocacy, resource sharing and much more.
This amazing app features a collection of Virtual Reality experiences shot right in the action. Ever wanted to base jump? Ski down a mountain? Surf a wave? You can now do it albeit via a virtual reality simulation.
Where To Next?
It’s still very early days, however we’re truly starting to see some major opportunities come to light in the VR world. The crazy thing is that these will all pale in insignificance over the coming years as we approach a situation where our simulated VR experiences will be indistinguishable from reality for our eyes. My advice to you is to pay attention, this is not a gimmick and it will impact your world & education in ever increasing ways in the years to come. It’s truly exciting.
Want to take this to the next level? Join a FREE 60 Minute Webinar with a certificate of attendance by registering below. During the webinar you’ll learn why you need to be paying attention to developments in the field of VR and how you can get started now in your classes.