VR Tips and Tricks

Explore how virtual reality (VR) can enhance your classroom experiences with practical tips and tricks from Albemarle High School librarians Erica Thorsen and Michelle Banaszak.

Although virtual reality (VR) is not new, it is becoming more affordable and accessible. VR can help students have experiences beyond the four walls of the classroom, allowing us to travel the world without a passport and through time without a “souped-up” DeLorean.

At Albemarle High School, our unofficial VR team, comprising Eric Wunderston (Learning Technology Integrator), Michelle Banaszak (Librarian), and myself, has taken students on many trips throughout the year—to the Bronx, South Africa, the Great Wall of China, and more—with varying degrees of success. We have a set of 10 Oculus headsets shared across the entire school division, so we reserve them well in advance for curriculum-related activities. Here are some tips and tricks we have learned to help make the VR experience a success.

Tip #1: Hype it up (but not too much)!

While you certainly want to get your students excited about visiting the ocean or an amusement park, you don’t want them to be disappointed when they’re not actually doing those things. Balance enthusiasm with realistic expectations.

Tip #2: Be prepared.

It’s crucial to have the headsets charged, set up, and ready to go for your students. Have the programs downloaded ahead of time and pin them if possible so it’s easy to access them. Our LTI even made a slide deck of images and instructions for students to navigate to the correct places.

Tip #3: Safety first!

Announce that VR can make people dizzy or provoke seizures in those who are prone to them. Ensure your students are aware of these potential side effects and have a plan in place in case anyone feels unwell.

Tip #4: Consider stations with VR being one of them.

Many schools may not have the equipment to accommodate a simultaneous experience for all students. Having one or two other stations for students to engage with is helpful. This allows for a rotation system where all students can engage with VR while participating in other educational activities.

Erica Thorsen and Michelle Banaszak, Albemarle High School, Albemarle County Public Schools

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