3 tips for creating a positive AR and VR experience in every classroom

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Monday, February 18, 2019

3 tips for creating a positive AR and VR experience in every classroom

Limited devices make bringing augmented reality and virtual reality experiences into our classrooms a challenge. However, you can still get the benefit of using AR and VR with your students with only a few devices.

[callout]This post is written by Micah Shippee, PhD, a middle school social studies teacher at Liverpool Central School District in New York State. Be on the lookout for his book WanderlustEDU: The Guide To Innovation In Schools coming out this summer. You can connect with Micah on Twitter and on his blog www.micahshippee.com.[/callout]

“I don’t have enough devices.” This is a common reason teachers give for not being able to integrate augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences into their classrooms.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are powerful learning mediums that continue to find a foothold in education.

Augmented Reality (AR) – always involves adding digital information in a manner that’s tightly synchronized with the physical world. Augmented Reality is the suite of enabling technologies and the resulting experience of a user when highly contextual digital information (in the form of text, images, graphics, animations, video, 3D models, sound or haptic stimuli) is presented in a manner that’s synchronized in real time, and appears attached to physical world people, places or objects.

An example of AR would be Merge VR’s Object Viewer App which allows us to create upload 3D images, like ones we might be printing on a 3D printer, and view them in our hands or on a desk…. Just think of all the 3D printer filament you could save my having students view AR prototypes before printing!

Virtual Reality (VR) – interactive computer-generated worlds, which substitute real-world sensory perceptions with digitally generated ones, producing the sensation of actually being in life-sized new environments.

An example of VR would be the introductory experiences we can view through the Google Cardboard app. This app is great for learning about navigating in VR.

Limited devices in our classrooms make powerful 1:1 learning experiences a challenge. However, you can still get the benefit of bringing AR and VR into the classroom with only a few devices.

Here are 3 strategies to employ when using a few devices to serve a larger audience:

#1 The Question Game

The Question Game (also called 20 Questions) is not just great for boring car rides, it is also a fun way to elicit enthusiastic engagement from a classroom. The key of the game is that the person questioned must always be truthful and provide “yes” or “no” answers. Like any classroom engagement strategy, over time students will become more thoughtful with their questions through practice. For AR you may use a character, an artifact, a molecular model, or a 3D model of an organ.

For example, a student is looking at a planet in the solar system using a Merge Cube app like Galactic Explorer. In true AR fashion, a student may be looking through their device as a window, overlayed with an AR trigger, and listen as their classmates try to guess what it is by only asking yes or no questions… this would make for an awesome screen capture to reflect on later.

Many VR experiences offer visits to far away places that can be directly associated with the content you teach providing a targeted location for students to try to guess about can be a rich classroom experience for all. A student might be using Google Expeditions to visit Yosemite National Park. Classmates would need to ask questions about geography in order to identify the location. Check out this searchable list of over 900 expeditions.

#2 Screencasting

  • We use the word screencast in a bunch of different ways, hopefully, this clears it up…
    Noun: a video recording or transmission of the data displayed on the screen of a computer or mobile device, typically with accompanying audio. Example “this tutorial contains a screencast demonstrating all of the steps”
  • Verb: record or transmit video of data displayed on the screen of a computer or mobile device, typically with accompanying audio. Example “the ability to screencast from smartphones to HDTVs has replaced the need to project home movies”

The ability to screencast, or display, both AR and VR experiences from a device to a projector, or smartboard, is becoming easier and easier to do. You can wirelessly connect via Airplay, Reflector, or Vysor. But, my personal go-to is tethering my iPad directly to my MacBook, I find this is more stable when my WiFi network is questionable.

A screencast can allow for a shared experience via a single device. This can be useful for introducing new AR and VR by providing a clear visual demo of the tool in action. There are various tools that allow you to share a laptop screen with multiple devices which you can do when tethered to one device. Two examples are Join.me and ViewSonic’s myViewBoard. These two allow a user to share their screen with a viewing audience, directly to their device, specifically to Chromebooks.

For example, when I use a single Oculus Go to allow a student to tour the International Space Station (Mission: ISS), I want everyone to get an idea for what the one person is viewing in VR. By using Google Chromecast (through my Pixel) I can cast the experience to another device for others to see.

Screencasting, or recording an experience on a device, can be an awesome way to deliver reports on projects, many devices can record their screens and several apps have screencasting built right into them. For example, QuiverVisions’ palette of AR applications have a record button you can click while viewing. With QuiverVision’s Plant Cell students can color a cell and bring it to “life” with their AR app and record themselves talking about what they see. A simple export to Google Classroom and classmates can view the experience.

#3 Stations

Once students have seen and attempted the above strategies, they are ready for individual work at a station. However, you should still plan for supporting students in this strategy, try keeping one student at this station as the device-expert. Or you can train the first student who takes their turn, stays, and trains the next before transitioning to the next station.

Stations can be perfect for some of the more immersive VR experience, that works best with a limited about of time to avoid motion sickness. You can also alternate station experiences allowing for VR experience experts who will share out to the whole class the places they visited in VR. Check out Karly Moura’s “Explorer of the Day” idea.


While these three strategies fall short a true 1:1 learning experiences, they can help us discover how our students learn with AR and VR which will inform our future practice. Each of the strategies can easily be modified when more devices become available (small groups, partners, etc…).

In a perfect setting, ripe with access to a full class set of devices, we may find The Question Game, Screencasting, and Stations are still important go-to lesson strategies. Regardless of the type of technology, we are using in our classrooms one thing cannot be forgotten… the conversation. We must help our students make deeper meaning about the way the tool helps them understand.

For more examples of using AR and VR in the classroom check out: www.micahshippee.com

1. Definition of AR… “Augmented Reality Defined“ http://thearea.org/augmented-reality-defined/ retrieved 1.25.17 In “Future Ready: VR, AR, and MR in the classroom beyond the novelty.” 31 Jan. 2017
2. Definition of VR… Freeman, D.; Reeve, S.; Robinson, A.; Ehlers, A.; Clark, D.; Spanlang, B.; and Slater, M. Virtual reality in the assessment of, understanding, and treatment of mental health disorders. Pyschological Medicine (2017), 47, 2393-2400.

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