Virtual reality is an exciting new technology with huge potential for student education, but it’s not always clear how best to leverage VR in the classroom. One easy entry point is Google’s do-it-yourself virtual reality device, but which educational VR apps for Google Cardboard are worth your time and energy?
How to use Google Cardboard in the classroom
Using Google Cardboard is straightforward. All you need is a smartphone and a viewer. You can make your own with basic hardware supplies or choose from several viewers that Google offers (the cheapest runs at $5).
You’ll want to choose a viewer that works with your screen size. Most apps for Google Cardboard work with smartphones that run on Android 4.1 and up or recent versions of iOS.
If you’re concerned about cost, keep in mind that not every student will need a viewer. Jennie Magiera, the former chief technology officer for School District 62, makes VR work on a budget.
What are the coolest educational VR apps for Google Cardboard?
1) Wizard Academy VR
Realiteer’s Wizard Academy VR is specifically designed to teach students about science and math subjects like algebra (Fire Archery), physics (Ice Fortress), and even germs (GermBuster).
These fun challenges — shooting giant germs, for example, or destroying ice castles — also hone their hand-eye coordination, spatial recognition, memory, attention, and focus. Also, there are dragons.
2) Cleanopolis VR
Groupe EDF’s Cleanopolis VR teaches students all about their ecological footprint and how they can improve it.
This app for science classes positions students as heroes against climate change as they assist Captain Clean in ridding the city of Cleanopolis of its CO2 cloud. It also includes quizzes to test their knowledge.
3) War of Words VR
In Burrell Durrant Hifle’s War of Words VR, students take a trip back to 1916, to when British war poet Siegfried Sassoon penned “The Kiss.”
In the poem, Sassoon describes an army-training course, using a “kiss” as a metaphor for bayoneting an enemy soldiers. The VR app helps students visualize the war conditions that inspired the famous and controversial poem. Due to the nature of the content, the app is better suited for older students.
4) Google Expeditions
It’s hard not to mention this staple of classrooms tinkering with VR. Google Expeditions enables teachers to go on virtual field trips with their students, from other countries to outer space.
Nearly 500 expeditions are available, which means there’s huge potential for what your students can learn.
(If you’re into VR expeditions to space, Titans of Space is also a good choice.)
5) InCell VR
Nival’s InCell VR is one of the most unique educational VR apps out there for mobile devices.
In a re-creation of the human cell, students can explore a microscopic world, save the cell from destruction, and outrun a virus wave — all thanks for the technology of the year 2134, the future in which the game is set.
It’s an unlikely but clever combination of racing and science.