VR Day Origins
VR Day was made through a post on "education and virtual reality" within the reddit community. (reddit.com/r/vive) Nelson Milian and Willie Avendano from learn01.io agreed to meet up in AltSpace and talk about how we could better incorporate virtual reality and education. Nelson and I lead the charge and started to create the first (we think it's the first) educational collaboration experience involving modeling in VR.
The lesson took about four weeks to setup with the Learn01 group meeting virtually in AltSpaceVR to talk about what we were going to do. First came the technical aspect.
I was lucky enough to have connections with Becky Evaristo, an upward bound project coordinator that works at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown Delaware. She hooked me up with Robert Bell, the technical master for the school, who gave me open ports and access to the LAN for a stable internet connection. Only problem was is that my other computer had to be wireless. Finally, Laurel Davis at DelTech organized groups for my kids to come through the day to experience VR. It was great to have people who are not afraid to embrace and expose kids to new technology.
First came the setup. Watch the video below.
The lesson had to let our students use a 3dsculpting program called SculptrVR. The kids joined a multiplayer session and jumped in. Each class tried to come up with a "prototype" to help a real world problem. The Florida class created a "Humane Mouse Trap" while our class tried to create a sound amplifier for a cellphone. Both groups showed off interesting results where students had to come up with different prototypes and then design them. We could then export the .obj file and tweak the image in TinkerCad. Finally, we could print them out on the 3d printer to have a tangible figure from a virtual world. If that's not cool to you, you probably have stopped reading by now anyways.
Unfortunately, I was pretty busy during this stage, so I don't have any video from my phone. I did however pull some footage from the Del Tech Facebook.
Our skype connection was pretty terrible. The Wifi at the college isn't the best when there are 200+ kids all running pokemon go at the same time. Laggy connection speed and poor audio quality made it hard to communicate with the Florida group. This was the only problem we had however. I'll take it considering all of the things that could go wrong.
The End of Prototyping, Start of Pictionary
At the end of the prototyping experiment we simple ran out of time. Giving the students about 30 minutes to do this activity was obviously rushed, but we were just testing the waters. We decided the last little bit of the lesson could incorporate a game of pictionary, where one class would guess what the other class was drawing. Applause, laughter, and a genuine good time were all present during this part. It all ended with a virtual hug and fireworks shot into the air by both students in the virtual world...(this was definitely not scripted).
Florida Sculpting a 3d Snorlax
The Ending (Obviously not edited)
Another View of the Virtual Reality Hug and Fireworks
(All things considered it went pretty smoothly. Things can definitely improve on the software front. If there is an application or game that comes out that is strictly an educational sandbox type of program...I will be all over it. I really want to thank Becky Evaristo, Laurel Davis, and Robert Bell from Delaware Tech Georgetown Campus for making this experience run smoothly. It's a blast to see people as excited as I am for this new technology.
Hopefully we can keep it going!
If you want to try this for your own school, see my product page for pricing or email me at VRwheatley@gmail.com. If you're serving a good group of kids, there's a high chance I'll give you a discount or do it for free because I love it. I have to charge something for the equipment costs however. Wear and tear is a very real thing when 60+ participants try on a Vive.
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Your VR Blogger
Math Teaching Specialist for the University of Delaware.