At TEACHx, we featured a “technology petting zoo” with some new technologies we thought people might like to put their hands on, like a small drone, a Livescribe pen, a microscope that attaches to your smartphone, and a couple of inexpensive virtual reality googles. We didn’t have a particular agenda for any of the items; we just wanted to make them available and see if they sparked any ideas for use in the classroom. The most popular items by far were the virtual reality (VR) googles. It is so easy to start exploring the world of VR—all you need is a smartphone and an inexpensive headset. I’m a big fan of Google Cardboard because it’s made of sustainable materials and has a DIY element. It costs less than $15.
There’s a great article in the May 2016 New Yorker, “Studio 360,” that explains some of the different ways people are using VR to create art and tell stories. What I found most exciting about the article was how people and companies that are developing VR are in the very early stages. VR is essentially in the “Pong” stage of video games, or even the “Watson, come here” stage of the telephone. It’s thrilling to think what will evolve. As one of the filmmakers quoted in the article says, “We’re basically at the Lumière-brothers stage—little experiments, like pointing the camera at a moving train and seeing what happens.”