July 28, 2022

Virtual Reality for Teaching: An Educator’s Best Friend

Kai XR

As an educator, you need a sleeve well-stocked with magic tricks to keep a rowdy classroom on task. Whether you favor sticker charts, dance breaks, or a healthy dose of extra recess, we’re not here to judge. In fact, we want to present you with another tactic for cultivating a happy, actively learning classroom: using virtual reality for teaching.

Yes, this is totally possible. No, it’s not just for well-funded private schools. 

At Kai XR, we offer high-quality, educator-approved forays into virtual reality field trips at price points affordable for all schools and classrooms. As the metaverse becomes a common sphere of interaction, we believe that all children should have access to this domain and that educators can provide a safe metaverse introduction through teaching in VR.

Our core principles are diversity, accessibility, safety, and futuristic tech. This means that our pathway to VR—designed by educators—represents an exciting future that teachers can get behind.

Whether you’re the educator who colleagues go to for tech help, or the educator asking the questions, you are fully capable of integrating virtual reality into your classroom. In this piece, we’ll cover how to introduce this tech and then dive into its implications for specific subject matter. 

Buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride!

Teaching Virtual Reality

First stop: learning how to use new technology.

Before students can truly benefit from lessons in VR, they’ll need to learn the basics of how to navigate 360º virtual reality field trips through tablets, laptops, or immersive headsets. 

If you feel confident here, awesome! If not, our first recommendation is to join forces with your school’s technology, digital literacy, or digital storytelling teacher. As a team, you can develop a plan to effectively integrate VR into your classroom. 

Our next rec is to choose a platform that’s both right for your students and provides you with all the support you need. For example, through our voyage package, students and educators alike get full support in VR-integration with access to:

As you enter the trial and error phase necessary when introducing any new process to the classroom, we’ll be there to answer any questions and provide support.

Beyond that, the heart of our platform is delivering impactful, affordable virtual field trips for classrooms of all shapes and sizes. 

In fact, we are the first company offering 100+ educator-curated field trips. There are countless ways to incorporate these enriching experiences into your curricula. It’s a dream come true. Want to learn why we love doing everything from social studies lessons to testing breaks in VR? We’re happy to share.

VR Teaching: Immerse in History

One of the main benefits of teaching in VR is providing students with immersive experiences. When it comes to the social studies classroom, this can completely transform the learning process.

For Gen Alpha and older Gen Z students who were born after the new millennium, events that took place in the late 21st century can feel incredibly far away. However, the reality is that incredibly impactful historical events are younger than most of Gen Alphas’ grandparents:

  • The NAACP was founded little over a century ago
  • The Brown v. Board decision is only 68 years old
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed a mere 57 years ago
  • Marriage equality was won less than a decade ago

While it is remarkable that elementary students can view huge strides in Civil Rights as a given, it is also critical that they understand the effort, courage, persistence, and immense collaboration it took to win these basic liberties. Teaching students that achieving social change is possible is critical for equipping the next generation of civil rights leaders, changemakers, and organizers.

Social studies educators can play a big role here, but may struggle to get students to grasp just how recent these events were or to conceptualize them as not just a story, but actions taken by real-life people. 

This is where immersive tech comes in. By joining key historical figures in an immersive virtual environment, students can build connections to history like never before. 

Kai XR Experiences for Social Studies

At Kai XR, we make this happen with a wide range of social studies offerings, including:

  • A discussion with Ruby Bridges’ teacher, 
  • A trip to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s D.C. monument
  • A journey to Egypt to explore the Great Pyramids
  • A journey to England to visit the prehistoric Stonehenge
  • A trip to the Negro League’s Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri

When students virtually travel to these locations in time and space, they are also traveling closer to the crux of social studies education: what happened years ago isn’t just a story, but real life, and it affects our lives today.

VR Teaching: Make Abstract Concepts Tangible

Just like using virtual reality for teaching social studies can make historical events seem more concrete, teaching with virtual reality can help students understand unfamiliar STEM concepts by making the abstract tangible. 

Researchers from the  University of Maine College of Education and Human Development’s School of Learning and Teaching conducted a study exploring VR as a tool for rendering math concepts. Math teachers often draw geometric concepts on chalkboards, whiteboards, and other 2-D surfaces. Researchers were interested in how a 3D drawing space would affect learning. 

Based on observations of participants in 3D VR spaces, researchers found that this mode of learning gave individuals opportunities to investigate shapes in new ways. For example, VR-users could stand inside spheres or look along the edge of a polyhedron.

This could be a game-changer for students struggling to grasp mathematical or scientific concepts through traditional lesson plans, or kids who prefer hands-on, experiential learning. Teaching in VR allows educators to make topics more accessible for all learning styles. Students could particularly benefit from VR units covering the basics of:

  • Fractions
  • Geometry 
  • Algebra
  • Biology
  • Earth sciences

VR can simultaneously cater to multiple intelligences and learning styles with an ease that far outpaces traditional methods. Students can watch, listen, move, and interact with concepts all at once. We get that it’s not possible to do this for every lesson plan when you’re working with physical, traditional resources (hello unit about Mars exploration).

That’s why VR can help.

Kai XR Experiences for STEM

When you don’t have the bandwidth, VR can step in to take kids from outer space to deep sea in seconds. Our engineering, tech, health, and science experiences allow kids to:

  • Meet a scientist designing a rocket to take humanity to the moon and Mars
  • Join miners gathering diamonds deep in the earth
  • Tour a wind farm and learn about alternative energy in Jordan
  • Journey through the body of a giant as he gets ready for a first date
  • Swim with wild dolphins
  • Experience an earthquake and learn how people prepare for natural disasters

The possibilities are seriously endless.

VR Teaching: Go Globe Trotting

They also have huge application potential for teaching students geography, world cultures, and foreign languages.

These days, kids can travel thousands of miles through space in a 5 minute Youtube video. Problem is, there’s little guarantee that the content they’re consuming is:

  • Accurate
  • Relevant
  • Culturally representative
  • Enriching
  • Educational

Stats from the Pew Research Center show that, while 65% of parents of Youtube-watching 11 year olds say that the platform often keeps their children entertained, only 43% say that videos frequently helped kids learn new things and only 27% said the platform frequently introduced kids to new cultures. 

In other words, it’s difficult for the average elementary student to select quality, educational videos from Youtube’s endless sea of content. 

However, there is still so much value to be had in teaching children about other cultures and ways of life. Benefits include:

  • Preparing kids to thrive in a globalized world
  • Expanding students’ imaginations
  • Preparing children for future language learning
  • Developing tolerance and curiosity
  • Broadening students’ perspectives
  • Fostering an open mindset

For this reason, it’s the duty of educators and responsible adults to connect children with safe, reliable technology to bring them around the globe. Teaching with virtual reality is an excellent way to do this.

As educational VR becomes a prolific technology, creating a VR classroom experience gets easier and easier. Educators can connect with the platform that best serves their school’s needs.

Kai XR Field Trips for International Education

For educators looking to up their globe-trotting game, our platform could be the perfect addition to your classroom.

In an era when most places on the globe are little more than a day’s travel away, it will pay off for children to have a firm grasp on geography and draw parallels between their own cultures and those in the world around them.

Tech makes this process easy. Our extensive library of virtual field trips is home to many culturally-enriching, global experiences. Students can:

  • Meet kids just like them who are living in Za’atari, a Syrian refugee camp located in Jordan
  • Travel to Chernobyl to learn about the effects of nuclear disaster from someone who lived through the ordeal
  • See how people around the world tackle their parents’ least-favorite chore: laundry
  • Experience the beauty of the Taj Mahal and learn why it was created
  • Explore Qatar and its ancient pearling history
  • Dive underwater to explore the Great Barrier Reef
  • Wander around the sacred city of Mecca
Two light-skinned children with ponytails and curly hair play with clay.
Image source: Pexels

VR Teaching: Treasures for a Rainy Day

Finally, VR is also a great opportunity for students to learn through play.

As an educator, you know that the benefits of play for children cannot be overstated. It’s great for exercising both the imagination and the body, experimenting with new ideas, and releasing all. that. energy. 

A brief about play from Unicef and the Lego foundation cited other big reasons to promote play:

  • It’s meaningful and helps children understand the world around them
  • It’s joyful and elicits lots of smiles and laughs
  • It’s actively engaging and requires children to integrate motor functions and deep thinking
  • It’s iterative and allows children to practice, test hypotheses, and make mistakes
  • It’s socially interactive and facilitates deeper understanding between peers

One new hypothesis even posits that play helps young children develop theory of mind; the understanding that others hold different beliefs and opinions, and the ability to describe these.

Whether you’re corralling kindergarteners or struggling to keep up with seventh grade slang, providing your students with a healthy dose of play is critical. For all ages, this will likely include lots of time spent running around outside or in the gym. However, during quieter moments, play should still be an option. VR provides an easy answer.

For example, during standardized testing children need productive breaks more than ever. The catch is, they must be quiet so that other classes can complete tests undisturbed. Sometimes running around on the playground is not an option. 

With VR, students can escape the testing room and enter expansive hubs of play—all on the classroom rug. The best part is that the activity is quiet and non-disruptive. 

Kai XR Field Trips for Play

At Kai XR, we’ve dedicated an entire section of our VR library to virtual playground experiences. Students can:

  • Play hide and seek in a magical cottage
  • Hangout with Spongebob or operate the Krusty Krab register
  • Join a dance party with favorite cartoon characters (Finn, Jake, Bubbles, and more!)
  • Meet a wacky alien duo whose evil plans are thwarted by two bunnies
  • Hang out with puppies competing in their own mini Superbowl
  • Ride a roller coaster through a world of candy

By the way, that’s not an exhaustive list. We aim to provide winning experiences for all elementary school students, no matter their interests or age.

Teaching with Virtual Reality

Every child deserves a quality future and much of that starts in the classroom, with quality education. 

In an age of rapidly-evolving tech and rapidly-colliding cultures, it can be hard for educators to cover all their bases and prepare students for the future. We totally understand that everything from budget cuts to growing classroom size makes it difficult to teach kids the basics, and nearly impossible to cover higher-level skills like coding and intercultural communication.

So first, shout out to you, as an educator making it work. We get it and we appreciate you!

Second, we want to emphasize that technology is a huge asset to educators looking for the best for their students. It could be right for your classroom.

Educators can leverage VR to:

  • Help students deeply understand history and its impacts today
  • Guide children through complex math and science topics
  • Introduce students to diverse cultures, places, and ways of life
  • Give students time to explore the world through play

Ready to dive in and bring the whole world to your classroom rug? You can start by learning more about what we offer programs and schools.

In the meantime, check out our other posts:

Featured Image: Pexels

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