How Easily Can Students Create in Virtual Reality? | Kevin Merges | 3 Min Read

Teachers want their students to create content and “build” all kinds of projects, many in newly designed maker spaces, one of the most popular additions to schools. In virtual reality (VR) we see the same growth.  Many of the emerging trends in VR/AR/MR/XR (all the Rs) are facilitated by schools connecting ideas and technologies in new ways. 

Schools have been using popular computer-aided design (CAD) tools in architecture classes for a long time.  Additionally, there is an emerging trend of students using 360 cameras in photography/video classes with the supporting software to edit 360 content.  Schools can take an architect’s CAD files, edit the content to include a donor’s plaque, add 360-video of the current neighboring buildings recorded via drone, merge the 3D CAD files with 360 content, and export them to a VR headset.  This allows the school’s Development team to meet with donors and show them, through a headset, the new project with the donors’ names on the wall of the virtual building.  Alternatively, they could just meet in VR and walk them through a new building with their name on it. 

QR codes are being used in schools for everything from scavenger hunts to sharing updated homework assignments (QR code stays the same and the teacher changes the available content as needed).  Cameras on mobile devices with AR technology have the ability for the image to be “the code” for itself.  Apps can be used to scan objects that trigger AR content, 3D files, videos, … to appear on the screen.  Using this technology allows a teacher to set the student work as the AR target and when scanned by an app like LightUp’s Halo, you could get a video of the student talking about their work.  Schools could even set the logo of their competition to show a video from their own Admission office. 

Building in VR used to be done with complex coding and programs like Unity, but now we see emerging trends allowing builders to design spaces, projects, objects, … in VR without knowing how to code.  Our students have been doing this for years in Minecraft.  There is a growing number of companies building programs allowing students to build while in VR.  Students no longer have to know how to code to build an apple in VR they only require the ability to search for the 3D asset of an apple and download it into their device.  Google Poly is going away, but there are other sites like Sketchfab with a large repository of 3D assets.  Students can also use CAD and 3D software to create the objects.

VR companies are beginning to offer educationally focused projects.  Apelab is offering their 2030 project with Zoe.  Students will create VR and AR apps while in VR.  The apps will be shared with other students and schools around the world.  Some of the past Zoe projects are available on their Youtube channel.  Apps created by students can be experienced in a range of VR devices.  Many companies are moving toward VR programs that are device agnostic.  Like several other companies, Apelab is working on a version of Zoe that will be available on mobile devices.  As VR becomes mobile, we will see exponential growth in the integration with many aspects of society. 

I am going to continue this thread of students creating in VR/AR/… for at least one more post.  There is a lot more going on in this space and we should all be sharing resources.

Go to the next article in this series: Why Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Here to Stay: The Merge Cube | Kevin Merges

Kevin Merges

Dr. Kevin Merges has been Executive Director of Global Education Programs and Director of The Innovation Center, Rutgers Preparatory School (NJ) since 2014. Previously, he was a teacher and Director of Program Advancement at Rutgers Prep School since 2000. He has taught math and research at Rutgers Preparatory School and Rutgers University. He serves as a representative of the United Nations Education Committee.

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