Big news from my little corner of the internet. I have got my hands on an HTC Vive. Luckily for me, I am an avid PC gamer, so my computer is already at spec, with no upgrades needed to get that Steam VR ready test to max out into the green. (If you know what I mean, then you understand my joy; If you don’t it does not really matter anyhow). With some quick ebaying, I have acquired a pair of tripods and some ball mount; found a cheap protective case filled with pluck foam at Bunnings (very similar to a pelican, but only $60) which together which makes my VR setup nice and portable.
After a good few days of playing around with it, I have taken it to my school and run a few demo sessions for other staff members. The reactions have been fantastic! Lots of people are familiar with the headset VR and have been expecting something akin to it, and when it blows the headset VR experience out the water people are gob-smacked. I highly suggest that if you are curious, go to the effort of finding a place to try it. The experience cannot be put into words that do it justice. Room Scale VR is one of those things where you “have to be there” and try it for yourself.
Besides the level of fun and coolness of it, there has also been really good discussion. The talk has been around how this technology will be changing the future; in education and social interaction. We are in the first iteration of the technology; imagine what it will bring as it goes mainstream over the next 5 to 10 years? Everyone who I have spoken with, in a post demo debrief, has asked two questions; 2) how can we get this into the classroom? 2) where do I get one?
The second question is easy, as I just tell them to google the HTC Vibe and go to their website, as it is the only retailer. I then offer to help them setup a computer to spec. The first question, usually leads to some good discussion, as I don’t have an answer that is easy. I don’t believe that room scale, will be classroom ready for years (Take up of Classroom VR), but the discussion about what we could do with it as teachers is fantastic.
The debrief typically follows the standard pattern, usually found in most discussions of VR and education. The idea of virtual field trips is almost always talking point one. I can’t think of a teacher who won’t love to be able to take a class to an immersive experience of ________ (insert location here) without having to leave the school. The discussion then typically moves onto creating things and experiencing things in VR. Virtual dissections, modeling projects, art, etc. We then start talking about VR as social space and how it will change the way we interact with each other. It is amazing, how diverse the thoughts on these topics are; there is so much diversity of ideas.
I’m going to leave it here for now. Over the coming weeks I am going to be running more demos for staff and friends. Not sure where or who, as I have to give it some thought. I might need to reach out to colleagues at other schools and see who would be interested. I want to hear what people think about VR and how it relates to the classroom.