In this episode of The PE Geek Podcast we explore the disruptive technology of Virtual Reality. This includes a look at the applications in the PE Classroom in todays classrooms as well as the potential for the future of education. While Virtual Reality as been around for many years, its only now reaching a point where its implications for learning and teaching are truly being felt with innovative teachers embracing their potential.
Resources mentioned in this episode
- Anatomyou VR, Final Kick VR, CoSpaces
- YouTube & GoPro VR
- Google Cardboard & Samsung Gear VR
- Virtual Reality Webinar
[00:00:29] Jarrod Robinson: Hello everyone and welcome to episode number 90 of the PE
Geek Podcast and as always it’s a pleasure to have you here. Now, if you’re tuning in for the first
time this is a podcast all about technology and the role it has in physical education. If you are
frequent listen or you catch it, the occasional episode, I welcome you back. And if you do have a
moment to spare and you can head over to iTunes or Stitcher or any of the places that you’re
listening to this from and that you can leave a
review for us that would be really appreciated. It does help other people discover new shows.
Now, in today’s episode I’m going to be focusing in on the idea of virtual reality and the idea that
it is one of these technologies that is absolutely going to disrupt many of the things that we hold
dear and true in today’s day and sense and look at some of the opportunities that it has for
in particular obviously physical education and leave you with just a couple of ways that you
could potentially utilize it now in your day to day practice. So let’s dive into this episode.
Now, if you follow the work that we do over at thepegeek.com then you’ll probably be aware that
we tend to share emerging technologies and some of the possibilities that they have in phys ed
and if you look right back to the first slots of blog posts that we ever did in 2008
many of things that we were talking about at that stage have evolved to become a little bit more
common practice and stuff that we now look at as being sort of great use of tech in phys ed and
in many ways things that we spoke about sort of came into fruition and I have enjoyed going
back and seeing the posts and what we spoke about and where that’s led to. But there is a sort of
logical point in time where
there are technologies that I’ve explored with just as a technology fan but I’ve, that I never
actually wrote about or talked about. And one of those technologies in the early days up until sort
of last year was virtual reality. And obviously virtual reality is not new, I mean it sort of came
into attention in the 1980s and ’90s as this amazingly life changing, going to disrupt the word
And some of my earliest memories, even just around computers in general were a virtual reality
like experience and it was pretty terrible to be honest. But the whole concept of it was that you
could sit behind this screen that was just over the front of your eyes and you had a headset on
and you would play a video game. And I remember it being this sort of polygon video game
playing game or something
like that where it simulated the feeling of flying. And at that stage I thought it was the worst
thing that I’ve ever played. It was horrible, it really didn’t live up to the hype and the name and I
guess many other people around this time probably had a bit of a go with virtual reality and
probably heard the adage that this is going to be the way that we all look at entertainment in the
future. Many, many years have passed since then
and that still really hasn’t perpetuated.
But, last year we started to see an enormous amount of money coming and flowing from the big
tech companies, Google and Samsung and other technology giants into the virtual reality space.
And in many ways it was the starting point for what is very much becoming the,
a way in which the entertainment will be sent and consumed by us in the future. And over the
past two years this has basically resulted in over five billion dollars being invested in bringing
virtual reality to life. And it’s going to be an inevitable disruption that will happen in all
industries, not just entertainment but in so many different industries. And the exciting thing, and
I know I’ve spoken about this on previous episodes, but I think
it was episode 60. But if you go back and look at many of the opportunities that have resulted
there’s a very trackable progress that is taking place. And it is all sort of is in accordance with
what’s called Moore’s law. Where every year computational power doubles and price points half
and that continues in the background and something that seems like a gimmick like my first
experience many years later is quite disruptive. And that’s exciting because we’re at that stage
now where what was a gimmick has slowly been getting better and better and better and its lead
to the point now where realistically we can see applications for it in all different fields and
education is no exception.
So, I’m excited this episode I’m going to dive in and talk about just a couple of ways you could
now, very cheaply and efficiently and sort of get a bit of a taste for where it is. And then talk
about some of the opportunities that we have for the future.
Now, obviously considering that we’re talking about virtual reality there’s this idea that you need
to have headsets. And in order to have a headset then obviously you’ve got to pay for the headset
so there’s an additional cost that’s attributed to that. And that’s true, obviously in order to
virtual reality experience you need to have some device that makes that possible. But, in many, a
couple years ago now Google realized what’s called Google Cardboard. And Google Cardboard
is exactly as the name suggests. It’s a piece of cardboard that is in, is shaped into the shape of
cardboard basically. And as you purchase one you go and place your phone
inside the Google Cardboard holder and then you hold the Google Cardboard up to your face and
put the mask, the goggles on that have a headband and you run a series of Google Cardboard
compatible applications for your iPhone or your Android phone that immediately turn your
phone into a virtual reality experience and because you’re looking through the goggles,
you actually get to interact with it as if it was the real world in, even though it’s obviously a
computer generated world there’s, it’s progressed to a point now where you can start to see real
worlds in virtual reality and in 360 degrees. So the basic idea is that once you’re wearing it you
move your head and whatever’s on the screen moves to match that orientation. So as you look
right the screen moves right and it makes this absolutely fluid
movement that would match with the real sort of movement of that place. So this has lead people
to begin to experience what it might be like to stand on a famous landmark and look around like
under the Eiffel Tower as if you were actually standing there or anywhere in that world for that
matter of fact. Just by putting on a Google Cardboard and looking around you can be
immediately transported to that location. And to be honest,
it feels like you are actually there. There’s some pretty incredible content producers out at the
moment, we’ll have some links in the show notes at thepegeek.com/90 for episode 90. And these
content producers are producing full movies in virtual reality or 360 degree. And the first
experience I had with my Google Cardboard which they’re priced around $20, so we’re not
talking an awful lot here, was placing
me in a refugee camp. And I literally felt like I was in the place seeing all the people run around
me, come up to me and sort like they were going to interact. And it was very human, it was very,
very believable and a real big indication of what’s going to be possible in the future. So we’ll get
to that in a moment. But that’s the starting point. You can get Google Cardboard and make this
possible really affordably.
obviously there are other options get things like a Samsung Gear virtual reality kit which makes
it more comfortable and little bit more fluid and a few other options so you can interact with the
stuff that’s taking place. But, with that basic building block of a Google Cardboard then there are
some opportunities and I want to take you through those. So, remember all the links for things
that we mention will be inside of the show notes at thepegeek.com/90. So you can go back there
a transcript as well as click on links and go and explore stuff even further.
But, one of the first phys ed health opportunities that came from this was the use of the
AnatomyU VR application. And it is a very cool free app that you can install on your iPhone or
your Android and then you place it inside of the headset, whether that’s Google Cardboard or
Samsung Gear or whatever it is. And then it
places you inside a human body. So from a perspective of you being in a blood cell for example,
as you navigate through and see all the different parts of the human body in 3D. So you can
imagine that, you floating down the blood cells, you’re looking left and right and you’re seeing
the heart, the aorta, the different elements that make up your body and you’re able to interact
with those and learn about them as you go. So as, in terms of learning
about health and the different anatomy that’s a cool use of virtual reality and that’s only going to
get better to the point where the actual environment you’re in seems lifelike as opposed to some
sort of 3D computer rendering.
The next little example of this that sort of just sheds out, again, where this is headed, this still is
in its very early days but a game that I played was called Final Kick VR.
And Final Kick VR, again, was another little free app and it places you in the soccer goals. So
you’re standing there, you’ve got your headset on and you’re looking out and it feels as though
you’re standing on a football pitch or a soccer pitch and standing in the goal line. And then
you’ve got people who are kicking the soccer ball at you. And what you have to do is see based
on how the ball is moving and move
left or move right or stay where you are and simulate by actually doing it what it would be like if
you were kick, getting the ball kicked towards you when you were trying to defend it as a goalie.
And it’s actually really quite challenging, you’ve got to read the play and react quickly and make
a decision and move in the exact direction that you need to in order to actually stop it.
Now, obviously, you don’t physical touch the ball because it’s a simulation but the same decision
is being made. So from the perspective of thinking about as if you were a coach for example,
sure, nothing beats playing the real game but at some point you can’t be doing this all night or
forever or obviously you need a second person to kick the ball at you. But with an application
like Final Kick VR and your headset you could be practicing that same skill set, that same
decision making on your own. And be able to do that over and over and over and I
guarantee that is going to increase to the point of where people obviously are going to be doing it
to practice even more deeply, specific situations and I read an article recently about the
American Football League utilizing virtual reality to train their players through specific scenarios
that come up but are very hard to simulate in real settings but do come up in the game settings.
And by using this they’re able to train them
very specifically. Which I think is very cool and only going to get better.
Now, my good friend Jorge Rodriguez who is avidly a big fan of virtual reality experiences, in
fact ran an amazing webinar for ConnectedPE which I’ll link to in the show notes, took us
through an idea of using the app CoSpaces to create a virtual reality experience where by the
teacher crafts a series of activities
that students need to participate in. So, with the CoSpaces app you start by being on your
computer and you create an experience or an interactive virtual world that in his case had a list of
activities that people need to perform as they moved around the gym.
Now, the coolest part about this was that the students could then go into the CoSpaces world by
having their virtual reality headset
on. So, again, Jorge created the world which took up this series of activities of different exercises
the students would do. And then the kids put their headsets on and then as they glanced around
the room they could see to the right of them that there was a station that said ten pushups. They
moved their head to the left and they could see the other station that said now you need to do ten
supermans and they moved left again and they could see the next activity. So, the
idea being that they could walk around the gym which was all, was your virtual gym but they’re
in a real place and they could be doing activities.
And I thought that was a really tremendous look into what the future is. Imagine it in the future,
they’re not just static activities but they’re dynamic activities and it’s not just a piece of paper
with instructions but it could be an avatar of a famous person taking them through a series of
activities or events or teaching them something or walking them through a
real virtual world that’s based on a historical landmark and learning about it as you go. So the
implications there are rather profound.
But, if you wanted to see what that was all about then you can head to cospaces.io. And you can
see that they have this creation tool where you can make your own experiences, then you get the
CoSpaces App and then you put it into your headset and you can explore that.
Now a couple, just to wrap up a couple of other simple
ideas that are available at the moment also include utilizing things like YouTube and GoPro VR.
Now, you may be familiar with the GoPro, the amazing camera. But there is a GoPro VR app
and it system a collection of virtual reality experiences shot right in the action. So, for example if
you wanted to talk about what it’s like to bungee jump or ski down a mountain or
all these activities like that then you can find them inside the GoPro VR app, put them into a
person’s headset and then actually experience what that might be like to participate in. And it’s
just a cool way to get people conversing and sharing ideas and strategies about what it might be
like to participate in those.
And again, the other one that I thought was tremendous was just simply using YouTube because
there is a whole suite of 360 degree
videos now appearing on YouTube that are perfect for a VR headset. And another example of
Jorge’s creativity is his own 360 degree video channel which he basically has recorded his phys
ed class in 360 degrees so that you can experience it just by putting your headset on which is
So, while we’ve obviously gone through a very, very
quick collection of ideas and scenarios around the use of virtual reality in today’s sense the real
focus is where this stuff is headed in the future. And it is truly phenomenal. We’re in the very
early days, it’s only starting to materialize. It’s still in what I think the deceptive phase where
most people think it’s a bit of a gimmick and it’s not really getting the attention that it will get in
coming years. But, as we progress there’s already talks and already investment from big sporting
firms and entertainment agencies to start to leverage it for their purposes. The reality is that you
could very easily attend an NBA game in the future through virtual reality. And sure, nothing
beats sitting on the side of the court and obviously everyone would wish that they could be able
to experience that.
But through virtual reality you very well could experience that. You could get to a situation
where you get to sit courtside and look through the virtual reality glasses and experience it as if
you were actually there in real life.
There’s a lot of big business and big money being thrown into how they can make that happen
for not just sports but for entertainment, for everything, for universities potentially even so that
people who can’t travel or have an inability to
get and access places could experience it as if they were there.
Now, you might think well sure that’s okay, it’s great, but it surely couldn’t feel like the real thing
obviously because you couldn’t fiscally touch stuff and smell things and whatever. But, from a
visual perspective it’s getting to a point where it would be indistinguishable between the real
And if you’re a tech fan then maybe you’ve bought a TV
in the last few years and one of the selling points that people who sell TVs use is this idea of
1080p. And they might have had said to you that it’s a 1080p television or if you’ve bought one
very recently they might have said it’s a 4k television and essentially that stands for the basically
the definition of the content that is possible to be viewed from
Now, at some point in the future we’re going to reach the limit of what our eyes are actual able to
distinguish and they say it’s between 8p, so 8000k and 12000. So somewhere in that line is the
actual theoretical limit of what the human eye can see. And there are already 8k TVs floating
around. So looking at that you would not be able to tell
the difference between it and the real world through your own eyes.
So, the impact here for virtual reality is that in the real future putting a virtual reality headset on
will basically be indistinguishable between what you’re looking at now as you listen to this
episode and the side of the NBA court when you’re in a virtual reality experience. So what will
that provide the students, what will that mean
for the future of education when it’s indistinguishable, when we can create experiences for
people at zero cost and we can use it for learning. I think it’s really exciting. Obviously we’re not
there just yet, but we are at a stage now where you can really start to leverage it and learn from it
and experience it and I think it’s pretty easy to do so with a Google Cardboard and some of the
free apps that I mentioned in this episode.
So, if you want to reminder of what they are head along to thepegeek.com/90
for episode 90. And if you have any questions or anything that you’ve done with virtual reality
feel free to head over to the blog and leave a comment. And if you wanted to join that webinar
that Jorge Rodriguez has created on virtual reality then you can do so by going to
thepegeek.com/vrwebinar. That’s /vrwebinar and you can join
the webinar, obviously see what the amazing work that Jorge is doing who I believe is easily the
pioneer in virtual reality in phys ed. And you can get a certificate of attendance for participating
So, hopefully you found that interesting. In the next episode I’m going to do the same thing but
we’re going to talk about augmented reality and the purpose of these two episodes is just to share
some light on what they’re doing now as well as what they’re doing in the future and also clear up
some of the
differences between the two that people get a little bit confused about. So, I look forward to
seeing you in episode 91. Speak soon.
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