Friday, 10 June 2016

Day 179: Designing and Building VR Headsets - The Epic Fail with Outstanding Possibilities

One day at the beginning of French class a student who is often quiet had a virtual reality (VR) headset with him. Of course, he put it away and hid it as class got started. There was a buzz in the room, as other students showed interest and we decided to run with it. With the entire class prompting and asking questions this student started to lead the discussion. He proposed that we could all make our own headsets and use them to travel around the world.

After two periods of problem solving and construction, we ended up with some devices that worked. Kind of. While the devices we made don't work perfectly, the skills developed by students through the process included critical thinking, communication and collaboration. One of my observations was how "out of their element" many of these students in Academic French were while constructing the devices. Leaders transpired through the process who were not always our traditional class leaders. The activity empowered students to work together and value each others unique strengths.
With the initial excitement of testing the devices done, our next steps are to use a combination of purchased and created VR headsets to tour French landmarks such as le Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and Versailles. After completing their virtual tours, students will communicate their learning, observations and opinions to classmates in structured conversations within small groups. I will circulate using a Google Form to document my observations of student learning.

As an extension, students will spend some time exploring the tours available and bring one of interest in to class for discussion.

Alicia Murphy, Orillia Secondary School -


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