How #VR Storytelling could help schools

It might sound like I’m just jumping on the latest bandwagon in #edTech when I start writing a post on Virtual Reality in the classroom but I’m hoping to take a new angle on it. I want to narrow down the focus to creating your own and the storytelling that can have a real impact on a school, both inside and outside the classroom.

Three key points:

  • The falling price of VR viewers and VR cameras now makes it a possibility for schools
  • The immersive experience can encourage empathy more than other formats
  • The deeper thinking as a viewer that comes form this immersion and empathy but also as a creator, where one is required to empathise with the viewer as you write and film your story. This takes learners to a whole new level of planning and creative problem solving.

The 360 difference

When you experience a 360 story, as a viewer you are choosing where to look and thus have control over your involvement in the scene. This means a few things tend to happen:

  • You find yourself forgetting you are in a virtual world
  • Sounds around you can direct where you focus your attention
  • You sometimes miss an element or event because you’re looking in the wrong direction
  • The immersion creates a very tangible and personal experience

The planning of how to tell a story in 360 requires a team of students to think outside the normal linear parameters. How events unfold and how one directs the viewer around and between scenes makes students think more deeply about the content and details within each scene. It also requires a deeper level of planning in regards to the script, the props, the sound, camera position, and the staging of actors.

VR storytelling has allowed documentary makers to put people in the shoes of the most vulnerable people in the world. It  has allowed conservationists to take people around the world on the journey taken by consumer products until they are found polluting the ocean.

Outside the classroom

Schools that invest in the technology to create their own 360 experiences can provide a number of extra services to their students. I was amazed to find a school where the guidance counsellor was the staff member most excited by VR. Non-curriculum uses include:

  • Introductions for new students to aspects of the school
  • Virtual online tours
  • Tackling anxiety through prior-experience in VR. Such as preparing for performing in front of crowds or exam conditions.
  • Stress relief as VR can take you to another place without physically having to leave school.

Like other topics I’ve written about, rather than seeing VR as just another platform for teachers to pass on information to students, my excitement lies in the creative student-led educational potential of this technology. The challenge of deciding on how self-produced VR experiences might have real impact on others and the in-depth planning and teamwork required to produce such a complicated media product.

Useful VR Links:

Cameras & Viewers

Content and Stories

With.In : https://with.in/

Youtube VR : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzuqhhs6NWbgTzMuM09WKDQ

Cardboard apps : https://vr.google.com/cardboard/apps/

Applications of VR : https://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality-applications/

Teleport 360 Editor : https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/teleport-360-editor/id1206374231?mt=8

Full platform for schools

ClassVR : http://www.classvr.com/

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