Best Practices for Using Virtual Reality in the Classroom
Virtual reality (VR) holds immense potential for transforming the learning experience in classrooms. By immersing students in simulated environments, VR can facilitate interactive and engaging lessons across various subjects.
The benefits of using VR in education include improved student engagement, enhanced retention of information, and the opportunity for personalized and experiential learning.
To make the learning curve shorter and give students and teachers the best experience, we asked the community what are the best practices for using virtual reality in the classroom!
Controlling multiple VR devices from a single laptop or tablet can significantly enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of VR experiences in the classroom. It provides educators with valuable tools to share content, monitor student activities, and ensure a synchronized and focused learning environment.
To achieve effective device control and content sharing, various solutions are available.
VR management software
One common approach is to use VR management software or applications specifically designed for classroom environments.
These tools enable teachers to control multiple VR devices from a central interface, facilitating content distribution, and monitoring capabilities. Some VR management software even allows for remote device management, eliminating the need for physical proximity between the teacher and the VR headsets.
One of the top-mentioned solutions to manage your XR fleet is ArborXR. With ArborXR you can control a fleet of stand-alone headsets from a web admin site, launch content, monitor their status, and a number of other things.
Casting to screens
Alternatively, wireless streaming solutions can be employed to mirror the content displayed on one VR device to other connected devices. This enables all students to view the same content simultaneously, fostering a shared experience and facilitating group discussions.
Additionally, screen-sharing applications or casting devices can be utilized to mirror the VR device's screen to a larger display, allowing the entire class to observe and participate in the VR experience collectively.
Some educational VR content providers like Futuclass has **Teacher Portal **implemented in the service. With Futuclass Teacher Portal, you can configure your account and manage your content and learners, create classes, and monitor performance from a single place.
How to set up a VR class, if you do not have headsets for every student?
When faced with a situation where there aren't enough VR headsets to accommodate all students in a class, educators can still leverage the benefits of virtual reality through shared lesson plans.
Fortunately, many educational content providers have recognized this challenge and offer ready-made shared lesson plans specifically designed for classroom settings with limited VR resources.
These shared lesson plans typically involve a combination of VR experiences and traditional teaching methods. Educators can guide students through the VR content using a few VR headsets while other students participate in related activities, discussions, or worksheets.
Consult with your educational technologist about the readiness of the devices for the VR lesson, especially concerning the charge levels and software updates, as these can be very time-consuming.
VR headsets such as Quest 2 and Pico Neo 3 take around 2 hours to charge from empty to full. The approximate use time ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 hours depending on the use case of the device.
There are two ways to check the charge level of the device. Firstly, you can check if the battery is full by plugging it into a charger and checking the color of the LED light on the device.
If the LED is green, it means that the charge is at 100%.
If the LED is orange, it means that the device is charging and that the battery level is between 10% and 100%.
If the LED is red, it means that the charge is below 10%
The charge level of the controllers cannot be checked without powering on the device.
The more precise way to check the charge of the device and the controllers is to power it on and check the quick settings in the lower left corner of the main menu. On Quest devices, the settings icon needs to be clicked to see the exact percentage, on Pico devices it is shown right away.
1.2 Internet connection
The internet connectivity can be checked in the quick settings. The wireless icon is hollow when WiFi is off, greyed out when WiFi is not connected, and filled if connected to WiFi. Clicking on the icon shows the currently connected network and all the networks in range.
1.3 All headsets are matched to their controllers
This is rarely an issue if headsets are stored in a specific transport case, but do keep an eye that each headset and matching pair of controllers would be wearing identical stickers and that they were placed next to each other in the carrying case after class.
1.4 Apps are updated
If in a hurry or on a poor network, this step can only be performed for the apps to be used in a given class.
If the headset is connected to the internet, it will check for updates to the installed apps. Application updates can be minor fixes or introductions of major content or features. Unless specifically mentioned in the update notes, usually updates improve an app for the better. For a consistent student experience, it is recommended to update all headsets the same.
If an application has an update available, it will prompt you to update before launching. It is recommended that you update the application when you have enough time to check if the update changed anything fundamental in the application.
1.5 Ensure sufficient disinfectant, wipes and "spacers" are available
It is strongly recommended that after each user the device and the controllers are disinfected. Plan ahead accordingly. If you have a group lesson coming up, where multiple people will be using the headset, be sure to have enough for all the groups! Also, ensure there are "spacers" in the case for students with glasses.
2. Planning The Lesson Area
2.1 Physical space
Each VR user should have sufficient space to move around. For a learning experience requiring less movement, an area of 1x1 meters (3 by 3 feet) with student either standing or sitting is sufficient. For an active VR experience with plenty of movement, an ideal would be 3x3 meters (9 by 9 feet) and standing. A typical recommended range for most educational VR experiences is around 2x2 meters (6 by 6 feet) standing.
The VR headsets use cameras to understand their position in the real world. This means the device has to “see” the real world to translate the player’s movements into movements in the virtual world.
Therefore too dark or too bright conditions can make the tracking worse or outright disable it. Avoid turning off all lights and also avoid direct sunlight.
2.3 Do not leave lenses in sunlight
Another important part to bear in mind is that direct sunlight can damage the device if the lenses are left directly facing the sunlight. The sunlight can be amplified by the lenses and that can lead to irreparable damage to the device’s screen.
Register for an online workshop on how to train teachers at your school to start using VR devices here.
3. Preparing students for the VR Lesson
3.1. Assign students to headsets
When the headsets are ready, assign the students to the real-world spaces you set up earlier.
3.2. Add a “spacer” for students with glasses
If a student is wearing glasses, it is recommended that they add a “spacer” between the headset and the face pad. That is to give extra room for the glasses, so they would not rub up against the lenses of the device.
3.3. Adjust the headset strap for comfort
The head strap’s tightness can often affect the overall comfort of the VR session, so it is important that the students understand how to adjust it so they’re comfortable.
The strap's tension can be adjusted by moving the two sliders in the back along the side strap
The strap’s lowest point should be on the back of the head, roughly on the same level as the user’s nose. This prevents the upper portion of the headset from applying excessive pressure to the forehead.
After the tightness and strap length have been adjusted the user can move the headset around on their face to find the sweet spot where the image is the sharpest.
3.4 Adjust the distance between the lenses on the headset
All VR headsets come with ways to adjust the distance between the lenses to accommodate all users. On Quest 2 and Pico Neo 3, lenses can be moved manually apart or together in 3 available positions. On Quest 1, it is a mechanical slider at the bottom of the headset.
3.5 Recenter student's position in VR
Sometimes the user is too far away from the usable items in the virtual world. To fix this, the user should go to the center of their physical play area and briefly hold down the recenter button. On Quest 1, Quest 2 and Pico Neo 3 headsets, it is the menu button on the controller.
3.6 Go over the main buttons
The buttons on Quest 1, Quest 2, and Pico Neo 3 are almost identical, except for the last two.
Trigger - typically under the index finger of the index finger. Can be considered almost like your left mouse button on the computer - it is used to select things and interact with menus.
**Grip **- it is situated on the side of the controller and as the name suggests it is mainly used to grip virtual things into your virtual hands.
Thumbstick - can be moved in all directions and can be used for various purposes. In Futuclass it is sometimes used for movement.
App menu button - this is used to bring up a menu screen inside an open app. On Quest devices, the app menu button is on the left controller. On Pico, it is on both controllers.
Menu button - this can be used to open the system menu or to close the running app. On Quest devices, the menu button is on the right controller. On Pico it is on both controllers.
3.7 Remind students to wear wrist straps at all times
The controllers can be slippery or difficult to hold at times and slip out of user's hand, especially when throwing objects in VR. All these actions are much safer if the user is wearing the wrist straps attached to the controllers.
3.8 Ask Students to draw a “guardian” area OR set the headset to “standing only” mode if there is little room
If there is enough room (every student has roughly two square meters or more) ask the students to draw a "room scale" guardian (Quest) or "custom boundary" (Pico).
If there is less room, ask the students to use the “standing only” area (Quest) or "quick setup with sitting or standing mode" (Pico). This will create a circular 1m wide VR area.
4. Check if safety and comfort best practices are followed
4.1 VR areas are configured with sufficient buffer space
Sometimes during the session technical problems can occur and the VR area can be reset. If you notice two students being too close to one another kindly ask them to walk back to the center of their area and either redraw the guardian (1. Open system menu 2. Click on the quick settings pane on the lower left 3. Click on the guardian pane) or recenter their virtual world by holding down the system menu button (both Quest and Pico).
4.2 All students are wearing wrist straps
Sometimes students can forget to wear the wrist straps. Make sure both straps are on and that the plastic stopper on the strap has been slid close to the wrist.
4.3 Headset’s straps are fastened properly
Improperly fastened head straps are typically recognized by user discomfort. The users complain that the headset is putting too much pressure on their nose, their vision is blurry, the headset feels loose and they are holding it against the face with one hand. To remedy these problems try the following
Adjust the side strap through the sliders in the back, and the top strap through velcro on top, so the headset is sitting tightly and is not falling on the user’s nose. The strap’s lowest point should be on the back of the head, roughly at the same level with the user’s nose.
Ask the user to move the headset around on their head to find the sweet spot for sharpness.
4.4 Students are more or less in the center of their VR areas
If a student has “drifted” to one edge of the VR area, ask them to walk back to the center of the VR area and reset their virtual position by pressing and holding the menu button.
5. Pack Up Headsets for Future Use
5.1 Check if all headsets have matching controllers in their carrying cases
As all controllers are paired to their specific headsets, it is recommended that you check that all controllers are stored with their respective headsets. Check the labels on the controllers and headsets to make sure.
5.2 Clean the headsets
It is recommended that all headsets are cleaned after their use, and that for this non-alcoholic disinfectant is used. Some headsets use protective coatings that can be damaged or worn away with alcohol-based disinfectants.
5.3 - Power down the headsets (do not put to "sleep")
Headsets are not very efficient in their sleep mode, losing 5-10% of charge every 24 hours. This means that when a headset is not shut down, its battery will drain in a few days. Powering off a headset, on the contrary, maintains almost the same battery level after weeks in storage. TIP: You can long press the headset’s power button to power down the headsets. Press the power button until you hear the shut down sound.
Setting Up Storage Area
When integrating VR into your school, one of the first things that you should consider is picking a place where the devices can be stored, charged, and maintained.
The existence of this designated area makes adoption easier as it removes the potential headaches of missing or mixed-up controllers, uncharged or uncleaned headsets, and many other such issues.
What to consider when choosing the room or area:
Consider investing in a storage box. This greatly simplifies the transporting, storing, and organization of headsets, controllers, charging cables, spare batteries, disinfectant, etc.
Use charging equipment with multiple USB ports per socket, or extension cords with multiple power outlets.
Protect your headsets from direct sunlight.
What can be done to minimize fire hazards? As these are battery-powered devices, special care should be taken to charge them safely.
Is there wifi coverage? Most of the device’s applications will be installed and updated over wifi, so having a stable connection will make the process much smoother.
Student data privacy
XR headsets can scan and analyze the space around students wearing them in detail, similar to room scans used for proctoring, and also track students’ unique movements, interactions with objects, facial features and biometric data, among other data points.
Educators and institutions must know if data such as this is stored locally on the device or in the cloud, and whether the collection itself could violate current federal or state student privacy regulations.
Schools should establish clear guidelines for data collection, storage, and usage, ensuring compliance with relevant data protection laws and obtaining appropriate consent from students and parents.
By implementing robust privacy policies and employing secure technologies, educators can harness the power of VR while safeguarding student privacy and fostering a safe learning environment.