Getting Social With VR Education
I love sharing content about virtual reality (VR) in education whether that be here on VRFocus, on my own site www.virtualiteach.com or in-person at events around the world. I also love connecting with other people working in the VR education space through social media channels as well as my monthly #CPDinVR events inside Engage. The VR education community has grown substantially in the last couple of years and there are now a wide range of places to look if you’re interested in using VR as a medium for learning. So for this month’s article I wanted to highlight some of the best communities and content out there if you are looking to build your PLN and find fresh ideas for using VR in the classroom.
Without a doubt, the most widely used hashtag related to immersive tech in education is #ARVRinEDU which is moderated by edtech pioneer and author of Learning Transported, Jaime Donally. Jaime also coordinates a weekly Twitter chat on this hashtag where she demos educational AR and VR apps and shares best practice with immersive technology. The chat is attended by educators from across the globe and is always a fun, lively discussion. It’s also worth giving a shout out to Jamie’s website www.arvrinedu.com where she curates some of her Twitter content as well as sharing other ideas and projects.
In terms of other hashtags to look out for, things like #VReducation #VRedu and #VR;earning are also quite common but none have the consistency of #ARVRinEDU. I did also consider compiling a specific list of educators who tweet about VR in education too but ultimately decided against it. Not only would the list be pretty long but inevitably I’d forget someone. Instead, use the hashtags to identify those educators (and developers) that are engaging with discussion and sharing great content.
There are actually more than a dozen Facebook groups specifically dedicated to VR in Education. Personally, I’m in all of them but some are definitely more active than others. Some also tend to get spammed by resellers a little but nothing that’s too disruptive.
There are three in particular that I’d like to highlight.
With over 4500 members this is the largest FB group dedicated to VR in Education and tends to have the most interaction. Definitely, the one I’d recommend joining first. Discussion is varied and with members from across the globe, you get a great mix of perspectives from this group.
Managed by the always excellent Michael Fricano, this was a group specifically focused on the use of the Oculus Go in the classroom but has recently expanded in preparation for the Quest launch. If you’re using these headsets in schools, you can find a lot of great discussion as well as support here.
This is one of the smaller groups but it’s definitely worth being part of. It’s managed by Eric Hawkinson who is based in Japan and is definitely one of the most innovative voices in VR education. With so much content in the other groups coming from the US and Europe, it’s great to get some regular insight into the way that VR is being harnessed in the East.
I’d love to say that there are loads of great YouTube channels for learning more about VR in Education but sadly there aren’t. In January of this year, I launched my own channel but in truth with so many other pulls on my time, I’m already struggling to upload content regularly. One thing I did manage to do on my channel was to curate over 1000 educational 360°videos into subject-specific playlists so if you’re looking for 360° content to use with VR headsets or even tablets, it’s a great place to start.
Here are a couple of other channels that are worth checking out:
Bryne is based in Germany and has been doing some incredibly innovative things with high-end VR for some time now. I’d also recommend checking out his website at www.vrintheclassroom.com
Technically this is mine too since the VR content here was produced by me (I don’t run the channel though). This is where you can find videos from some of the VR projects I have coordinated at JESS over the last few years.
Whilst I continue to use Engage for my #CPDinVR events, last year my friend Daniel Dyboski-Bryant launched a monthly meetup inside AltSpace for educators around the world who are interested in VR. The Educators in VR events have been well-attended and featured some great guest speakers including Jessica Outlaw, Gabe Baker and Joe Millward. Free to attend and since AltSpace has a low entry point in terms of hardware, you can access the sessions from pretty much any device! Well worth checking out.
Here’s a recording of one of the events from last November:
I know that podcasts aren’t really a social network but I’d be remiss if I left this one excellent resource off this list. The Virtual Reality Podcast is hosted by a super-team of edtech trailblazers from the USA – Alex Chaucer, Steven Sato, James McCrary and Amanda Fox. Now in its second season, the team have done a stellar job of lining up guests from across the VR space including Stanford’s Jeremy Bailenson, Charlie Fink, Brian Costello and Jaime Donally. Available across the usual variety of podcast platforms, it’s an excellent way to learn more about VR in education in a different format and makes for great listening whilst driving to work!
I’m going to wrap up there but I know some of you are probably wondering why I haven’t included other social platforms like LinkedIn, Reddit, Instagram, Discord etc. To be honest, there are various reasons – some tend to just act as mirrors for VR education content that is shared on Twitter anyway (like Instagram), others have no real active VR education community groups (like Reddit). If you do think I’ve missed something useful though, please do reach out to me on Twitter via @steve_bambury