VR Education – Building VR in Class With CoSpaces
Virtual reality is making its way into education. For teachers who not only want their students to explore but also create content for this new medium, CoSpaces is a free and easy solution.
Remember those days when school trips were restricted to the area you lived in? Thanks to virtual reality, teachers can now easily take students on expeditions to the Pyramids or outer space. Many schools have started experimenting with VR – mainly in order to take kids on these virtual field trips.
“When we talk about VR, we talk about those experiences”, says Jaime Donally, Instructional Technology Coordinator and founder of edcamp Global. “And I love that.” However, once you have a class set of cardboards in the classroom, there is a lot more that can be done with that: “The next step, of course, is our kids being the creators of those experiences”, Donally says. “That’s where CoSpaces comes in – and why I am thrilled about it.”
How does CoSpaces work?
CoSpaces is an interesting tool for teachers who want to explore the creator’s perspective on virtual reality with their students. It is a free platform consisting of a browser and a mobile application. In the browser app, users can easily assemble virtual scenes: They just choose a background environment and add figures and objects via drag and drop. These can be customized with a few clicks – to form a small forest with different animals in it, for example. Strolling through this forest is as easy as creating it. It just takes a smartphone, a VR headset (such as the Google Cardboard) and the free CoSpaces app.
What VR creation can bring to the classroom
But what can be learned from creating virtual environments? Let’s take a closer look at possible VR projects that CoSpaces could bring to the classroom.
In general, virtual reality is an exciting alternative for presenting information. For example, in the form of an immersive infographic, a 3D model or a virtual exhibition. Especially VR exhibitions are worth a try: They are easily done, don’t have any material costs and feel a lot like a real museum once you enter them in virtual reality. Since CoSpaces makes it possible to include your own photos in a VR space, students can even build a virtual exhibition with their own art in it. What makes those exhibitions – just as any form of virtual reality presentation – so fascinating is that you can literally set foot into your own creations.
Another interesting field of application is storytelling: Virtual reality adds an interesting twist to this good old discipline. Students can develop fictional settings for their stories in virtual reality before writing them. Or they can recreate scenes or plot lines from given texts.
“In my reading class, students build their own virtual reality worlds based on their understanding of a given text”, says Sunghan Park, a Korean teacher who uses CoSpaces in his English lessons. Angela Lee from New Zealand has a similar approach. She lets her students “build the world they've imagined from the stories we've been reading” – and thereby takes reading comprehension to a new level. For both teachers the process of building is more important than the possibility to explore the creations in VR with a headset. This is rather a bonus – something that makes it more exciting for the students.
Virtual reality sparks students’ interest because it is new and exciting. But there is more to it that makes it interesting for class. VR plays by different rules than most other media: The audience doesn’t see the scenes from a fixed point – like in a photo, movie or most theater plays – but becomes part of it. This adds a whole new level of fascination and makes the learning content more engaging: “We learn best when something is fun and vivid”, says Delightex founder Eugene Belyaev. “Virtual reality is a great way to make something memorable.”
Creative teachers will definitely find a lot more interesting uses for building virtual reality with CoSpaces. And, of course, not only their students can get creative with the tool but also teachers themselves can use it to build custom-made virtual reality experiences for class.
What’s still to come
Delightex, the start-up behind CoSpaces, is seeking a close exchange in order to develop the tool further for educators and children.
One big step at the end of the year is going to make the platform a lot more interesting for computer science: Users will then be able to create animated and interactive experiences in CoSpaces – using code. With this, kids will, for example, be able to create their own educational VR games and learn programming in a playful way.