Guest post by Ronan McNicholl
Google Earth VR demonstrates the immersive and experiential power of virtual reality in education.
How can this be used in the classroom?
Naturally, Google Earth VR is a perfect fit for geography teachers as it can help bring the subject to life. Students can access a vast array of topics related to physical and human geography. For example, pupils could explore active volcanoes, visit urban environments or possibly learn about glacial and coastal landscapes. The experiences are incredibly rich and demonstrate the deeper learning that can be achieved within a virtual reality environment.
History teachers will also love Google Earth VR. In a similar way to geography, there are countless opportunities for integration within lessons. Students could explore key battle sites from the second world war or perhaps visit famous sites from ancient civilizations, including the Colosseum. Experiencing these locations in virtual reality is exhilarating for students.
What are the main features of Google Earth?
Upon entering virtual reality, the user can choose to fly from one location to another. Other options include searching or following several built-in tours, including desert landscapes, water and cities. A virtual globe is also attached to the right controller allowing the user to pin locations.
Street view adds another immersive element to the experience; however, movement within street view is currently not possible.
The 3D models are incredibly detailed and make the entire experience engaging. Unfortunately, as with the desktop/mobile versions of Google Earth, not all buildings or locations are represented in 3D at present.
Are there any downsides?
Nausea is a common issue when using virtual reality. I personally had brief moments of nausea when flying, though not enough to significantly impact the experience.
Google Earth VR provides breath-taking experiences and has incredible potential in the classroom.
Ronan is the Head of Digital Learning at Sevenoaks Preparatory School. He is also working on a VR action research project with the Digital Strategy Group from the Independent Schools Council.
Further information on this project as well as contact information for Ronan can be accessed using the links below: