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VR and AR are coming to the classroom

ClassVR is the first virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology built specifically for the classroom. It offers an incomparable educational experience while remaining accessible and cost-effective for districts. Further, ClassVR is designed to get students into the lesson quickly and gives teachers complete control over the experience. It's everything that schools have been looking for from VR and AR.

Is VR really usable in schools?

Absolutely, though ClassVR represents the first education-focused AR and VR option on the market. Although consumer VR technologies have been available for years, they have been largely dedicated to gaming and creative applications. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, for example, may be the most recognizable and mass marketed VR systems, but they hold little value for educators. Unlike other AR and VR systems, everything about ClassVR is different and is designed to make lesson delivery easy for teachers and engaging for students.

What makes ClassVR so accessible to schools?

ClassVR is the perfect answer to expensive, unintuitive consumer VR systems. Mainstream AR and VR systems are cost prohibitive to schools, demand a level of computing power that schools rarely possess, and are impossible for teachers to efficiently utilize. Consumer VR technologies must be used with high-powered PCs or Macs, so for schools, it's a double whammy in cost. A single VR system like the Vive, along with a PC that can run it, may cost thousands. This is to run a single VR experience that only a single student can operate at a time. That's not efficient enough for teachers, or districts.

There are AR and VR systems that do not require a PC or Mac to function, but most of them need a smartphone to operate instead. Not every student, though, will have a compatible device, and it's often not affordable for schools to invest in smartphones, either.

ClassVR doesn't require a separate computer or device to run. Each headset is a standalone unit that operates free of other technology and is wireless. When not in use, the headsets can be placed in a secure charging and storage container, also of ClassVR design. The containers are easy to move from classroom to classroom, ensuring every student is able to experience the technology.

How easy is it for teachers to deliver lessons with ClassVR?

Consumer VR technologies are impossible for teachers to monitor and control efficiently, but ClassVR has taken the teacher into account. The teacher portal is one of ClassVR's signature features, as it allows educators to control an entire room full of headsets from a separate device.

Using the portal, teachers can organize lesson content for the classroom, so every student gets the same experience at the same time. Once these lessons are put together, using a simple drag and drop interface, the teacher only has to click a button to begin. During the lesson, the teacher has access to pause and play controls, so they can lecture at important points and keep the students together. Further, teachers can see where students are looking and get their attention by clicking on the 360 image provided through the portal. Students receive an indicator on their screen in response, so teachers can keep the class focus even while immersed.

ClassVR is an open platform, so developers are creating education content at a rapid pace. There are already more than 500 lessons and activities available with the system, and curated content is pushed over all the time. Even better, teachers can create their own lessons using 360-degree images, which makes for a compelling creative experience for students.

Does ClassVR also deliver AR content?

Although ClassVR only looks like a VR headset at first glance, it has a forward-facing camera that can detect special AR-enabled images when they are in view. These images are delivered using posters or worksheets that spring to life when captured by the device. Once triggered, they produce 3D models that students can interact with, allowing for an additional layer of engagement.

How easy is it for students to use the technology?

Many assume that today's students can master any interface in moments, given their close attachment to technology from an early age. ClassVR's controls are designed to leverage this familiarity, and can be operated using nothing but gestures and head movements. There's no need for a separate control peripheral, which would only cost more and could easily be lost. Instead, the student gestures in front of the headset's camera, and the headset picks up this movement. Most students will have the controls down before the end of their first session with the headset.

How can VR encourage learning?

Educators are always trying out new technology, hoping to unlock more of their students' potential. In some cases, technology has proven to be a game changer in the classroom, and many believe VR will be the next example of that. In fact, it's already being heralded as the fourth wave of technology, following mobile, the internet and the PC. In other words, the tech field believes VR, AR and mixed reality have the same potential as mobile devices and the internet in changing how we see the world. 

This new way of experiencing reality is a compelling learning opportunity for students. Finally, students can see what the moon looks like on its surface, what really goes on inside a volcano, and how the heart pumps blood through the body. Imagine students walking through the streets of Rome, climbing Mount Everest, or just exploring other cultures. Some developers are even creating experiences designed to elicit empathy from people, and this can be used to help students see the world from another perspective.

As any teacher knows, some students don't thrive with lecture or reading assignments only. These students may need novel stimuli or interactive experiences to retain what they learn. ClassVR delivers both and leaves students, no matter their optimal manner of learning, with something they won't likely forget.

A new way of teaching

ClassVR is the start of something amazing. Just a few years ago, students could also view the world through a screen or a book. Now, with VR and AR technology, they can step into other places, stories, cultures and lives, and do so while teachers retain complete control over the experience.