Episode 1-Show Notes

Hello, My name is Craig Frehlich, your host,  and welcome to the VR in Education Podcast, where we will explore how Virtual Reality is being used to change the way students learn, teachers teach and the impact it is having in the classroom.  

Episode 1- Why Embrace Virtual Reality in Education?

In the first episode, I will tell you a little bit about who I am, why you should become interested in VR?, and what this podcast will be all about.  So let’s get started.  

I have been a teacher for over 20 years.  I have been a science teacher, vice principal, and design teacher.  I have my Masters Degree in instructional design.  I love running and the odd beer and I am married with 2 wonderful children.  I love reading and learning about technology and design.  

I have always been fascinated and enthralled with science fiction.  As a kid I would voraciously read Isaac Asimov novels and  line up for hours to watch the latest Star Wars and Star Trek movies.  The newness and advanced technology gave me a sense of awe, curiosity and wonder about what our world may be like in the future.  Although the lightsaber from Star Wars and holodeck from Star Trek are not yet available for us to use, there is a tool or gadget that is gaining huge popularity in many aspects of our technology focussed society.  It is called Virtual Reality (VR).

I first became interested in immersive VR two years ago when my teenage son wanted to stop by the Microsoft store at the local mall to test one out that was on display.  After signing many permission forms and waivers, he and I donned an HTC Vive and we were immersed in a whole new world.  I was impressed with the realism and quality of the experience.  On our drive home, we talked about how powerful this tool would be for students in the classroom.  And since then, it has been my mission to learn more about how this tool would be extremely beneficial for educators.  

What makes VR so such a worthy tool?

  1. Gamification of learning

Students love to play computer games.  Most find them motivating and fun because the consequence of failing is minimal.  It might take several tries or attempts for a player to reach a stage or level in a game.  They learn to build resilience and grit without the high cost of being judged.  There are a growing number of learning type games that give students the opportunity to play, fail, and try again.

  1. Multidisciplinary

Virtual Reality applications are available for many subjects and disciplines.  There are applications for science, geography, history, language arts, music, art etc.  

  1. It can instil Empathy

We often ask students to “put themselves in someone else’s shoes” or “see through another person’s eyes”.  In virtual reality this perspective building is more than a figurative statement.  Participants in the virtual world can literally see and experience what is like to be Syrian refugee or a homeless person living in a ghetto.  

  1. Creation

With rise of “design thinking” and the “maker movement” there is more and more pressure on teachers to have students learn through creation.  Virtual reality applications avail students the opportunity to design and make without physical materials and the mess that comes along with the process.  

  1. Make the Impossible Possible

Remember the Magic School Bus?  Miss Frizzel would take her students on field trips that were beyond our wildest dreams.  If they were studying blood, they would shrink down and travel inside the human artery.  If they were studying the American Civil War, they would go back in time to experience this first hand.  With virtual reality these are all possible again.  

Whilst this list is not exhaustive, it is clear that VR has many benefits to students and teachers in the classroom.  

It is my goal or aim in this podcast to explore how we might use immersive VR.   Whilst there are many kinds of VR, like phone based VR, for example google cardboard, this podcast will focus on more immersive virtual reality units like the Oculus Rift and the HTC vive.

Each episode will have several segments:  You will learn about hardware, software applications, tips/ tricks, recommendations,  issues and hot topics, and we will often learn from others through interviews and candid conversations from time to time.   I suspect things will evolve as I get the hang of podcasting.  

So I hope you will join me as I embark on a new journey in my professional journey as a podcaster on using VR as tool to educate students in the classroom.  If you haven’t even considered VR in education, I encourage you to visit a local Microsoft Store and demo an HTC vive and I promise you, like me, you will be “hooked”.  That is all for now.  Have a great week!

Contact me on Twitter (@cfrehlichteach)
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