Considering custom VR apps for your classroom?
We take a look at the major VR educational platforms and compare that to a custom solution.
Schools and teachers are always looking for ways to make learning less passive and more involved. Virtual Reality provides immediate and immersive experiences where children and adults alike will be able to retain information better than in a traditional lecture environment. It helps bridge the gap of the ever decreasing attention span since the simulation is right all around you, you get to experience it, and you also get to apply knowledge like in a life-like simulation. It’s suited for all types of learning styles due to its heavy emphasis on visual and auditory feedback. Thanks to advancements in software and 3D technology, students have the opportunity to be enveloped in virtual environments that a simple picture cannot replicate. They can attend scientific simulations, visit sites around the globe, and interact with learning mechanics (abstracted, game-like, and realistic) In Virtual Reality, students can experience otherworldly abilities that can only be replicated in a virtual simulation, like traveling back in time, soaring through the sky, or visiting other planets! Since VR experiences are typically gamified, audiences are more easily and instantly rewarded for their accomplishments. Best of all, because VR is such a groundbreaking and refreshing piece of tech that not everyone has at home, it can also help ramp up the excitement for learning.
VR technology is finally becoming capable enough to see adoption and integration into multiple different industries and use cases. In the case of education, VR has a tremendous amount of potential for immersion, exploration, and applied learning. We are going to highlight some of the existing options for VR in the classroom and explore if a custom solution is just what you need.
Type: Standalone headsets that link into LMS platform to manage lessons.
Content: An “open” platform offering a variety of Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality options for younger students. Most of the content seems to be simple demos and minute-long animations, many of which are using Creative Common assets. Creators can make their own content, but are limited by the depth of the scripting platform. ClassVR does not seem to provide custom content development for those that need it.
Technology: Relatively low resolution display with 3DoF and no controllers or hand tracking. Augmented reality is handled using a 8MP camera on the front of the device. Speakers are integrated.
Summary: ClassVR is a system encompassing standalone VR headset built to fit your schedule as an educator. The platform comes with a built in curriculum encompassing many different school subjects. Teachers also have the ability to create lesson plans and even upload their own content for said lessons. Headsets can be purchased either standalone or in bulk kits that include storage and charging options. ClassVR also provides technical setup and training for individuals who may not be experienced with the technology.
Type: Standalone headsets in kits that also include networking and teacher tablets.
Content: Most of the content here comes from Google Expeditions and DiscoveryVR networks, which consist primarily of video content. Additional VR applications can be side-loaded onto the headsets.
Technology: As of 2019, kits include Daydream and Lenovo Mirage Solo Student. VR headsets are compatible with a controller (not included) and offer 6DoF of movement. They seem to have about the same power as an Oculus Go.
Summary: RobotLab sells a variety of products, including VR kits specifically designed for classroom usage. These kits exist in many different forms from many different companies, but what makes RobotLab special is their partnership with the Google Expeditions platform. With Google Expeditions, students can learn from a range of VR content. With the integration of Google Maps, students can essentially take a field trip to any part of the globe. RobotLab provides a Teacher tablet which helps in simultaneous experience launching and lesson plan coordination for a whole classroom of headsets. These kits are all-in-one solutions for K-5 and perhaps older classrooms, but do not offer much interactivity and seem to be heavily reliant on Google and Discovery’s content.
Type: Platform subscription and hardware reseller
Content: Offering custom AR and VR content created by educators, the platform’s subscription offers over 250 experiences (that mostly focus on science). AR content is offered in addition to VR content and there are a multitude of interactive experiences, such as frog dissections and space simulations.
Technology: Their VXR.Direct platform offers NGSS standard curriculum with a total of 48 different courses encompassing Earth and Space Science, Engineering, Life Science, and Physical Science. The courses are only compatible with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, and Oculus Go headsets, including a variety of VR controllers.
Summary: VictoryXR seeks to provide a number of different VR learning courses mainly focused on STEM and anatomy. They have general science courses as well as engineering and space technology. Both physical and biological science courses are offered to give a well rounded balance of different subject matter. VictoryXR also makes AR cards with some of the same subject matter. The platform is more aged up than most competitors, but doesn’t touch college-level content and professional training.
Type: VR Educational Platform and hardware provider
Content: Flexible E-Learning platform that lets teachers create and share VR lessons, with integration of 360 view VR photo and video content. Much of the content is in small snippets and utilize a library of open source and creative commons assets.
Technology: VR platform with LMS functionality that’s compatible with both mobile devices and tethered VR headsets. The company also sells Oculus Go headset kits and their own version of Google Cardboard to slot your phone into.
Summary: Teach VR gives the ability to make full custom lesson plans and powerpoints. Teachers can add their own 360 photos and videos to enhance the lesson experience. Think of it as a networked presentation software in 360°.The platform also has a wide range of pre-made lesson plans to search from, all of them being made by educational developers. You can also share your own lessons on the platform for other teachers to enjoy. Teach VR provides headsets for purchase with their software but they also have a mobile app that’s compatible with Google Cardboard or their own proprietary cardboard kit. Custom solutions (beyond presentation content) are offered.
Lenovo Classroom VR 2
Type: Standalone Headset with controllers.
Content: Comes with diverse curriculum-mapped experiences, including STEM, virtual tours, and career exploration.
Technology: Powered by a Qualcomm 835 SOC, the VR Classroom 2 sports a modest 1920 x 1060 per eye with a FOV of 110 degrees at a refresh rate of 75hz. The headset comes with one remote which acts as both a controller and a pointing device.
Summary: Lenovo aims to bring mainstream VR into the classroom with the VR Classroom 2. The standalone headset comes with both a built-in microphone and speaker, and even has Bluetooth support. The storage is also expandable up to a 256 Gig SD card. While the VR Classroom 2 isn’t a powerhouse by any means, its main selling point makes it perfect for its target audience. The headset comes fully integrated with your desired software, meaning teachers and students can jump in and start using right out of the box. It also comes with ThinkReality (for more professional training simulations) and and LanSchool (for the middle and high school classrooms) integrated to give teachers control. Lenovo’s headset is very much in line with the power, capabilities, and versatility of a consumer headset, but built to last. Lenovo does not provide custom VR software development, but providers such as Workinman Interactive, can build apps that can easily be deployed on the Picos.
Type: Headset (mobile phone needed)
Content: The Merge Miniverse platform offers new video and interactive AR and VR content in a variety of subjects, with new content being added weekly. The headset will work with any Google Cardboard compatible content.
Technology: Headset is mobile only, meaning Android and IOS devices are compatible with the headset. The Merge Miniverse App and other Cardboard-based VR apps are usable in this configuration.
Summary: The headset offers on-the-fly changing from VR to AR with the built-in camera slot. The Merge Miniverse app features over 300 apps, games, and both AR and VR experiences. Subject matter varies broadly and may not align perfectly with curriculum, but may serve to help complement or reinforce topics. While the headsets are relatively inexpensive, mobile devices of moderate-to-high specifications are needed, which is perfect if BYOD is possible, but may be cost prohibitive otherwise. Android and IOS devices are compatible with the Merge. If custom VR content is needed, it can be done via your own developer, and installed on the mobile device as a native app.
Educational Virtual Reality Apps and Games Built Just for You
Existing options for the classroom are just that, designed for young audiences, with limited content selection and minuscule experiences. Most of these platforms lack granular controls, cutting edge tech, and immersive software, as they just skim into high-tech territory.
What about older audiences? What about higher education, professional training, or just giving students engaging experiences they’ll remember for a lifetime?
For this, a custom solution is the way to go. Giving you the flexibility to design your VR, AR or XR (Mixed Reality experience) to exactly what your curriculum requires, a custom educational app by Workinman Interactive gives you exactly the content you need, built for your audience, and running on the hardware of your choice. Best of all, you own it. No need to worry about rentals, licensing, or being subject to a VR startup’s stability. With over 14 years experience designing apps and game, and working for educational providers, such as SiaTech, Amplify, Sesame Street, and Noggin, we have the technical know-how and experience to bring any course or curriculum to live – on any platform you require.
Our design options are not limited to elementary schools. A custom VR app can be designed to fit your audience, whether you represent K-5, middle or high schools, universities, or professional training organizations. We also build training apps and demos meant to entice and engage the public. The options are really limitless.
Custom Educational VR Solution Benefits
- Pricing to fit your scope
- A level of detail and Immersion to fit your requirements
- Build software around your curriculum, your design, and your requirements
- Use off-the-shelf, readily available hardware (Oculus, Vive, Cardboard, Samsung and more)
- Gamification options to keep players engaged
- Aged-up education, training and simulations, for higher learning and professional environments
- High-tech immersion and controls with higher-resolution displays, multiple control options (including hand tracking), and 6 DoF (allowing users to fully explore environments)
- Integrated analytics to capture essential data to monitor and improve your coursework (including SCORM)
- Easy upgrades, additions, localization, and deployment
If you are considering a custom VR, AR, or XR educational or training application, feel free to contact us at any time to consult on budget and process, or to see some of our past work.