VR in Education will provide tips and explore topics related to using immersive Virtual Reality in the classroom.
VR in Education Episode 4-VR applications for Creating
I recently listened to a podcast episode from AJ Juliani’s, Inside Innovation, where he describes the difference between Chefs and cooks and uses this as a metaphor for the creative classroom. Chefs are recipe inventors and makers. They take ingredients to make something new and innovative. Whereas cooks are recipe followers. They take a set of instructions and implement them to make food. Chefs are experimenting and doing new things in new ways. They are building and experimenting and often failing.
This beautiful metaphor reminds me of my experience with lego building blocks. When I was a kid, which was a long, long, long time ago, you could only buy lego pieces in buckets. There were no instructions, you had an open canvas to snap them together, experient and make stuff. We had to use objects around us and in nature for inspiration. Things didn’t always work out right, we were chefs. Nowadays, you can buy lego in kits or sets like the Star Wars X-wing fighter kit. When you open the kit there is a picture on the box along with a set of instructions on how to make the product. These new lego products are breeding cooks.
As educators how can we ensure we are designing experiences to produce more chefs than cooks? The more opportunity we provide students to create in an open-end way the more comfortable students will become as letting go someone else's instructions or recipe and coming up with their own way to make and create. Immersive Virtual Reality has several applications that can provide the opportunity to create and make like a chef and give students the opportunity to flex their creative muscles. Here are my top 3 VR applications to foster creating:
MODBOX- Modbox is my favorite creation tool in VR. It is easy to use. You can create your own game worlds to play in and share . Creators can develop worlds or environments by picking from over 1000 different assets/entities (toys, primitive shapes, launchers, household items, sports equipment, people, etc). Unlike more advanced VR creation programs like unity and unreal engine, modbox is simplistic, powerful and elegant. You choose entities or assets from a pallet on your wrist move them around lock them in place, and or make them move and interact with other entities or assets, Why is modbox so powerful? There is a plethora of ways you can use modbox for creation and making in the classroom or part of an afterschool club.
Science teachers may have students design their own rube goldberg machines and have other students try them out.
Students might recreate a scene out of a play or novel in modbox.
Physics teachers could conduct motion experiments in modbox. For example, projectile motion. There is also a feature to turn gravity up or down.
As part of an afterschool VR club, groups of students could design an Escape room challenge and have other students try it out.
People can share their games and experience with others online to try and provided feedback as part of a community.
Students could conduct phobia experiments in Modbox by designing an environment that provide people with a safe exposure to a fear. For Example, exposure to spiders or heights.
2. MAKEVRPRO- This 3-d modelling program allows users to design CAD files in an immersive virtual setting. The user can pick from primitives (cubes, rectangular prisms, spheres etc) so add shapes or create holes in shapes to design objects. These tools allow anyone, regardless of their age or experience level, to create solid-model content with positional and rotational accuracy in a virtual workshop, fulfilling the demand for such control and opening new channels of creativity. This precision, CAD-based, content creation is what separates MakeVRPro from other immersive modeling, sculpting, and painting apps. Makevr has excellent tutorials and gives several tips and hints to get the user up and running. Because of the immerive nature, it enables users to have a strong sense for the size and scale of their model. Traditional CAD programs like Tinkercad, fusion 360 and selfcad rely on the user having a strong sense for size based on the snap grid, yet in Makevr you are starting at your creation in realtime and have a strong idea of how big it is because of this. Makevr also allows participants to design and then download their creations as an stl or obj file that can then be 3-d printed.
3. Tiltbrush- Tilt Brush lets you paint in 3D space with virtual reality. While in VR the users has a palette on their wrist which gives them options to paint with several types of mediums (duct tape, light, paper,ink, smoke, fire, stars etc), thicknesses, and colors. Tilt brush is a very powerful program for creating in vr but if you have limit artistic abilities going beyond a few scribbles in the space requires some structure. Many students enter the space and will play or sandbox for a few minutes but then don't really know what to do. If you give them a challenge, like design a dress or a a tree that is adapted for the rainforest, this will motivate them to make something. Tilt brush also has a gameplay mode whereby the participant or user is given an object to draw and people outside the vr, watching on the monitor have to guess what they drew.
As you move toward creating a culture of creation in your school or classroom, please keep in mind that VR creation tools like the ones I have recommended help support makers and creators to take risks and feel more comfortable with mistakes and failures.
If we frame our making and creating experiences around problem solving and design challenges we will ensure that students are not cooks following recipes but chef’s who are inventing new things. That wraps up this episode of VR in Education. I want to thank you for listening. You can always get in touch with me via twitter (@cfrehlichteach) or leave feedback on the podcast on itunes or podbean. Next week, we will look at using VR to cultivate empathy. Have a great week everyone.