First Look at Oculus Go - 3 Ways to Leverage Standalone VR in the Classroom

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First Look at Oculus Go - 3 Ways to Leverage Standalone VR in the Classroom

As soon as Oculus Go came out, I quickly ordered one for our College of Education. After a week with Oculus Go, I thought I might share a few quick ideas for using it in the classroom.

3D Modeling with SculptrVR ($4.99)

My first question with VR is always the same: how can we move from passive viewing to active creation? With our HTC Vive, we love to use Blocks to create 3D designs and models. In Oculus Go, I like to use SculptrVR, which is quite similar to Google's Blocks app.

One big advantage of SculptrVR is the ability to export creations as .obj files. These files can then be 3D printed or exported into another program like TinkerCAD

Collaboration with Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes ($9.99)

I wrote about Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes in a previous post, but it bears repeating here because it works perfectly with the Oculus Go. The premise of the game is simple: one person wearing the Oculus Go sees a room with a bomb in it... a bomb with a variety of modules that need to be disabled. The other team members have a large and convoluted manual that explains how to disarm the bomb, and they must communicate with the person in the VR world to determine how to do so. 

Since the game only requires the person in VR to be seated and manipulate the modules on the bomb, the Oculus Go actually works as well, if not better, than having the full room scale HTC Vive setup we've used in the past. Just Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes alone makes the Oculus Go a great buy for our students to use to practice communication and collaboration.

 Students playing Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes at a station.

Students playing Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes at a station.

Problem Solving with Land's End ($4.99)

One of the more transformative puzzle games of the past few years is Monument Valley, a mobile app that used perspective and a unique art style to stretch players' minds. The creators of Monument Valley also created Land's End, another beautiful puzzler that uses a player's gaze in VR to solve a variety of unique puzzles. 

In the game, players traverse a picturesque island, navigating by looking at dots that light up when a player fixes their gaze on them. Once the game confirms the player can move in this manner, puzzles emerge that rely on a player's problem-solving to manipulate rocks, water, and much more to discover a solution.  I could easily envision players handing off the headset when they get stuck to have a friend consult with them regarding a solution. 

 Some students showing each other how to use the Oculus Go

Some students showing each other how to use the Oculus Go

Do you have any ideas for ways you plan to use VR in education? Any other Oculus Go users out there? Share in the comments!

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Collaborative Play: 3 Games that Help Build Social Fabric in the Classroom

In her “Games Can Make a Better World” TED Talk, Jane McGonigal discusses four gamer qualities that will contribute to improving humanity: Blissful Productivity, Social Fabric, Urgent Optimism, and Epic Meaning.

According to McGonigal, games promote Social Fabric because playing games with others involves an incredible amount of trust, whether it is playing by the same shared rules, agreeing to chase the same goals, or stick with a challenge or mission together the entire time.

During our course on Video Games & Learning, we wanted to explore games that help explore and cultivate Social Fabric. Below are three video games that approach Social Fabric in unique ways.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

The premise of Keep Talking is clear - one person in the game enters a room with a ticking briefcase and some complex modules on said briefcase, along with a countdown timer. In the limited time allotted, the player in the game must describe the ticking bomb’s modules to his or her fellow players, who each have access to a long-winded instruction manual. Those teammates need to find a way to explain the methods to disarm the bomb to the player in the game without making any mistakes.

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Social Fabric is all about trusting your fellow teammate not to lead you astray and put you in danger - Keep Talking is a perfect example of this concept. Players realize that they must ask meaningful questions, convey information in new ways, and respect fellow players’ frustrations with the limited information each person has.

Way

In a departure from Keep Talking, what if you needed to work together to solve puzzles with another player, but you had no form of verbal communication? In Way, you can see your partner and see your world, but you cannot see all of the obstacles in your world. Your partner, however, can see the obstacles, and they must communicate these obstacles to you using nonverbal communication.

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Way explores social fabric through the creation of a new, nonverbal language you create with your partner. Teams of two developed hand gestures, signs, and representations of the physical space that became agreed-upon norms in the game, then used these communications to complete the challenges. Way places a lot of trust on two strangers committing to the norms they have established and sticking with your partner through many failures and iterations.

Minecraft: Education Edition

A game that needs no explanation, Minecraft: Education Edition might rival The Oregon Trail for the most ubiquitous edugame in existence. Our twist to develop Social Fabric was quite simple: unite teams of three in the class to work together to survive and develop a societal “totem” that best represented their group. In the challenge, groups lost points for every member of their team who died and gained points for impressing the judges with their creations. With a common goal to unite them, the teams made sure everyone in their team had enough food, shelter from mobs (re: bad guys) in the game, and supplies handy to design their totem.

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It was fascinating to see how many of our students were already so well-versed in Minecraft without us even mentioning a tutorial or to be prepared to play before class. Even those who had never played seemed to thrive because others felt invested in their success and well-being, a definite component of Social Fabric.

Takeaways

Although you might not have access to Keep Talking, Way, and Minecraft, how can you develop activities or exercises that help students develop a sense of Social Fabric? How can you design mechanics of your course to include mutual interest in success?

A colleague of mine mentioned that some fields and courses experimented in team testing - the idea of grouping students together during the course, then pulling one of their tests as the score for the entire group at major assessment intervals. Imagine how motivated you would be to ensure that every member of your group knew the content and felt confident in their abilities! Although it may be nigh impossible to implement such a strategy in your role, how can you inspire that same sense of mutual benefit to collaborative learning?

If you are interested in having students analyze the McGonigal Gamer Skills she identifies in the aforementioned TED Talk and the 21st Century Learner Traits in these games, this handy Google Doc should do the trick.

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5 Innovative Ways to Use Pokemon Go & Google Tools in the Classroom

5 Innovative Ways to Use Pokemon Go & Google Tools in the Classroom

1. Use Google Draw to Create Pokemon Go Parodies, Memes, etc

Let’s be honest - one of the best parts of a phenomenon are the memes, spin-offs, parodies, and pop culture created from the topic, and Pokemon Go is no different. Just ask Pokemon Gogh, various Pokemon memes, or even Walter White if you have any doubts.

So how do we help students create Pokemon Go-inspired creative projects? I mocked up a quick Google Draw Pokemon Go Template to help students create faux sequences, but the sky is the limit for designing similar situations. This Google Draw Template allows for more customization, including the creation of a pokemon, filling out their stats sheet, and choosing their type. Students could add characters from a novel, history, or animals/plants from real life into the game and how their story fits into the gameplay. What if there was a rift in history, and players had to capture wild presidents scattered all over the globe? Honest Abe would definitely need a Razz berry and Master Ball to be caught, right?

2. Use ARIS or Aurasma to Design Small Scale Pokemon Go-like Games or Scavenger Hunts

What if you could create an educational version of Pokemon Go for your students? Too good to be true, right? With a bit of elbow grease and the right app, the concept is far from fiction. ARIS, a platform that allows you to create choice-based adventures tied to geographic locations, could help you turn a school building into a living, breathing Pokemon Go simulator around the subject of your choice.

If you wanted creatures to pop up out of everyday objects, take my colleague Ben Brazeau’s advice (@braz74 if you want to follow him) and use Aurasma to create augmented reality creatures popping up around your room, school, or neighborhood to teach concepts.


Other apps create the concept of a geocached “scavenger hunt,” such as Goose Chase. Teams can compete to find various locations, complete certain tasks, or accept various challenges that simulate the gameplay designs of Pokemon Go.

3. Create Your Own Pokemon Using Knowledge of Science, LA Writing, etc in Google Slides

Want to go beyond simple images and memes regarding Pokemon Go? Have your students create their own Pokemon, utilizing the understanding of families, phylums, and much more in Science class. Ask them to brush up on their writing with a description of the pokemon to go into their pokedex, and use their understanding of history to explain the best landmarks to find this creature in town. The Google Slides template I made helps students easily add their pokemon, write about its attributes, and give a summary about its backstory and features. What kind of attacks would Jane Eyre have? Would your jackalope pokemon be grass type? Normal? All considerations to make when creating your unique pokemon or basing it off a character.

4. Use Google Maps to Track Species & “Characters” (a la Pokemon Go)

Google My Maps allows users to overlay writing, images, and video on top of existing Google Maps, which connects perfectly with the concept of Pokemon Go. Users in various cities have already capitalized on Google My Maps as a way to document where various pokemon can be found - check out this crowdsourced example from Madison, WI. This method could also be used in the classroom - have students take their newly-created pokemon from the Google Slides activity above and put an icon on the world map of where it might live. Students could hypothesize where their pokemon may migrate and use the distance tool to calculate how far they would have to travel. Students could create a pokemon ecosystem and lay it out on a Google My Map, complete with write-ups about each character or animal and a cutout image to go with it.

5. Play EduGames Similar to Pokemon Go in the Classroom

Pokemon Go is not the only game with educational potential. Having students jump into the Radix Endeavor allows students to categorize animals and their eating habits based on - no kidding - scooping poop. Similar to Pokemon Go, it involves collecting animals and using the data to make crucial decisions.

As noted by edugame expert Matt Farber, Argubots Academy shares similarities with Pokemon Go. Just like pokemon squaring off with hit points and attacks, players can arm their argubots with different attack claims and evidence to defeat the rival bot over a contentious topic.


If those games do not fit your curriculum, why not gamify the entire classroom with a Pokemon Go theme? Students could break into the teams (Mystic, Valor, Instinct, and more they could make up) and take on the role of a trainer leveling up their skills in the classroom. Overlaying the gameplay terminology on a classroom setting would not be hard - it would just take a crafty teacher to make it happen!