VirtualiTeach

Steve Bambury

10 Reasons to introduce CoSpaces Edu

October 12, 2018

 

CoSpaces Edu has carved out a stellar reputation in the last couple of years as one of the best options for introducing VR into the classroom. I actually got to try CoSpaces back when it was still in beta form (alongside my former colleague Ronan McNicholl who went on to become one of their very first ambassadors.) It’s always impressed me and truth be told it’s been remiss of me to never really shine a spotlight on the app here on VirtualiTeach. So it’s time to right that wrong and I decided the best way to do this would be to highlight the ten key reasons for introducing the CoSpaces Edu platform into your classroom.

 

Before I start, let me give those of you that are unfamiliar with the platform a quick overview of what it entails:

 

So on to my list of 10 reasons you should give CoSpaces Edu a shot. I’m going to start with the big three – the three things that pretty much always make for a versatile, powerful edtech tool -

 

1. It works on any device

CoSpaces offers great equity of devices in the classroom as it works on pretty much any platform. This means that whether you have a full class-set of mobile VR headsets or just a few as well as some tablets or laptops, a whole class can engage with a project at the same time. I wish more apps boasted this functionality, especially in the transitional time when 1:1 VR simply isn’t viable for many schools.

 

2. The free version has depth

Many educational apps will offer a lite version or simply be free to a point but lack any real depth unless you pay for in-app purchases or for a subscription per user. This can be frustrating as often you can’t get a real feel for the quality of the app and its potential in the classroom. The basic CoSpaces Edu platform is free but actually offers a great deal of assets and functionality without the need for upfront investment. A teacher can easily set up a class and deploy to up to 30 students to really delve into the app and explore ways to harness it. It’s a sign of the confidence the CoSpaces team have in their platform.

 

3. It can be harnessed across the curriculum

The third core feature I’d always look for in an edtech tool is that it is broad and versatile enough to harness across the whole curriculum rather than just in a single subject area. This is definitely the case with CoSpaces Edu. Check out their gallery to see examples of CoSpaces projects from classes studying languages, geography, the arts, STEM concepts and much more. Being this versatile makes the platform a safer investment for those with limited budgets as the potential for use is exponentially greater and thus the likelihood is that more use will be made of the app.

 

So that’s the three most obvious reasons tackled. Let’s dive a little deeper…

 

4. It’s relatively easy to master

The average student will get to grips with CoSpaces in minutes and have pretty much mastered the interface within an hour or so. It helps that the Minecraft generation are so used to visualising and designing in 3D but I’ve seen teachers get the hang of CoSpaces pretty quickly too. The UI is clean and intuitive with minimal fuss and distraction and the more advanced features sit tucked away but easily accessible to those who want to take their project further. Overall the learning curve for CoSpaces is genuinely quite gentle which is great as VR in general can still be a little scary to the uninitiated! For those that do need more support, there’s always…

 

5.  There’s great support channels for beginners

The CoSpaces website has a couple of excellent documents to support educators with the onboarding process which you can find here If your teachers need more support, the CoSpaces YouTube channel provides a wealth of tutorial clips that could even be used with students directly.

 

6. Teachers can assign and assess tasks

One of the things educators often struggle with when it comes to using digital tools is the assignment and moderation of student projects. It’s not like they can easily cart a pile of iPads home with them for assessment, like they may have done with a set of books in the past. CoSpaces Edu is a real winner in this regard as its cloud-based projects can be accessed from any device and better yet, the teacher can assign a task to a group and then access their projects directly. This means that they can moderate progress remotely and intervene as needed and upon completion, make their assessments without needing to see a specific device. For many, the integration of these classroom management features will make CoSpaces an far less threatening proposition. The icing on the cake here is of course the VR itself as the educator can step inside the project and assess it from the inside!

 

7. AR integration has also been added

One of the more recent updates to CoSpaces Edu is the integration of AR on ARkit and ARcore enabled devices. They’ve also added the ability to engage with the experiences using the Merge Cube for schools that have access to these. Personally I still feel that the VR experience is vastly superior, especially since you can move and interact within your virtual creation, but it’s still a great move to offer augmented reality functionality too and it makes CoSpaces part of a very small group of immersive educational resources that can boast both AR and VR integration.

 

 

8. There’s coding for everyone

I think for many, the initial impression that CoSpaces often gives is that it is solely a coding platform. In truth, it is so much more and you can create effective virtual worlds as a part of a rich learning experience with absolutely no coding at all. That being said, if you wanted to incorporate some programming, CoSpaces really does have you covered no matter what ages your students are. There’s CoBlocks for the younger students - a Blockly style programming language, similar to Scratch and for the older students there’s the option to code with JavaScript. They’ve even integrated a physics engine to allow for the creation of simulations, animations and much more. It’s impressive stuff and makes for a great addition to any Computing curriculum. At JESS Dubai we have a project in the works where the students will be building their virtual worlds (linked to an Oceans topic) in their regular classrooms then programming them with our specialist Computing teacher. This is great as he does not need to use up his limited time with the students creating the space and can dedicate more time to the computer science concepts.

9. You can import a wide range of assets

If the app lacked assets, students would soon lose interest and the range of spaces that they could create would be severly limited. Fortunately CoSpaces Edu allows users to import their own assets into their projects, in a range of media. Images, GIFs, audio files and even 360 images and 3D object files (.STL and .OBJ) can be imported to personalise a creation further. The app even offers built-in search functionality for finding images and GIFs online without the need to leave the app.

 

So I guess that brings me to number 10. For my final point, I want to highlight something that the app actually represents…

 

10. This is the evolution of the presentation format

CoSpaces can be used to create a whole heap of different content, from stories to simple programs to much, much more. Honestly though some of the most transformative experiences I’ve seen students design are presentations. Why have students build a tired old PowerPoint deck to present from a 2D screen when they can build an immersive 3D presentation that the audience can actually step inside.

There’s been a lot of talk within the VR community recently about how the way that we interact with content will evolve as immersive media become more prevalent. This means everything from websites to presentations and empowering students now through a platform like CoSpaces Edu helps to ensure that these kids are future-ready.  

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