This just in: magic might be real. (All you need is a VR tablet).
With virtual reality, educators can take students back in time, to the depths of the ocean, and to faraway cities, all in a Thursday afternoon.
Virtual reality goes beyond the confines of video experiences by replacing stimuli from the physical world with digital stimuli. Through head-mounted displays and controllers, VR eliminates the fourth wall and allows users to move and interact with digital landscapes. With VR, students don’t just consume experiences, they co-create them.
Why Use a VR Tablet Instead of a VR Headset?
However, fully immersive VR experiences are not meant for young children. While VR headsets are safe, manufacturers are waiting for more research before approving these devices for use by younger audiences. Plus, most metaverse companies design VR headsets for children age 13 and up, ao they don’t fit younger students.
This can be tricky to navigate in a time when VR is growing increasingly popular. Inevitably, young kids who see older peers using VR headsets will want to join in. How can educators go about supervising mixed-age groups of children who are interacting with VR while following safety norms? Are there options for early elementary educators who want to incorporate educational VR in their classrooms?
Rather than telling children they’ll just have to wait a few years, educators, guardians, and parents can offer an alternative: VR for tablets.
At Kai XR, we’ve created Exploration Mode specifically for young explorers. Our Exploration Mode tablet VR viewer gives children of all ages access to the metaverse with tech that’s designed for them.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- How to use Exploration Mode
- Why virtual field trips benefit early elementary education
- What virtual reality experiences pair well with Exploration Mode
- When to transition classrooms to VR headsets
What is Exploration Mode for the VR Tablet?
Kai XR began as one educator’s mission to bridge the tech divide and deliver high-quality experiential learning opportunities to her classroom. She did it all without the time and budget constraints of traditional field trips. How? A 360º camera and a whole lot of dedication.
Kai XR’s founder started out by documenting historical sites and monuments around her D.C. classroom. Soon, these recordings became a wealth of digital knowledge that students could access from anywhere. Today, Kai XR’s library is home to over 100 curated field trips produced by the Kai XR team, as well as media powerhouses like:
- Al Jazeera
- Nat Geo
Every Kai XR experience can be explored in 360 degrees, which sets them apart from traditional, stationary video formats. Virtual reality positions students as actors rather than viewers. They can move and explore while learning.
At Kai XR, we make it easy to access our library with mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
To use Exploration Mode with Kai XR, simply:
- Log in and open our library of virtual field trips
- Tap the icon at the bottom right corner of your screen (pictured here on the left)
- Select “allow” when a pop-up box appears requesting access to Motion and Orientation on your device
- Choose a virtual field trip
- Move your device around to explore the 360º virtual field trip
Tips and Tricks for Using VR Tablets in the Classroom
While the above steps are super simple, we understand that it may take young learners a couple of tries to navigate them on their own. Gen Alpha students are digital natives, but many have yet to use virtual reality technology. To leverage virtual reality for teaching, ensure that students learn the ins and outs of a VR tablet before jumping into virtual field trips for kindergarten and beyond.
If you are looking for best practices for introducing and managing new tech in your classroom, we can help. We recommend:
- Demonstrating instructions a few times
- Providing many opportunities for practice
- Writing tech use norms as a class
- Cleaning shared devices regularly
Once students have successfully learned how to access tablet VR technology, it’s time to set up your digital classroom for success. Common Sense Media recommends:
- Setting up an area of the classroom that’s meant just for tech
- Creating expectations for device use and communicating about these regularly
- Designing a process for submitting and showcasing digital work
What are the Benefits of Tablet VR Experiences?
Is this tech worth the effort? Absolutely! Virtual reality is the future.
Not only will students love using a VR tablet, but they will benefit from this skill long-term. Plus, virtual reality can improve learning and retention. More about this below.
21st Century Skills with the VR Tablet
The world is changing fast. Literacy and basic math skills are as important as ever, but today there are essential 21st century skills students need on top of those fundamentals.
21st century learning skills encompass:
- Life skills and career skills (leadership, flexibility, productivity)
- Innovation skills and learning skills (critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration)
- Information, media, and technology skills (analyze information, leverage technology)
Proficiency in virtual reality most directly falls under the information, media, and technology umbrella; a category integral for future career success.
Already, we’ve seen rapid digital growth in classrooms over the past three decades.
In 1996, the ratio of students to classroom computers was 10:1. In 2009, it was 5:1. In the wake of remote learning, the ratio reached nearly 1:1 at many schools. In one EdWeek survey, 90% of educators reported that there was one device available for each high school and middle school student in their school by March of 2021. 84% of educators reported that this was true for elementary school students.
In the coming decades, we are likely to see similar trends with VR technology. Data shows that many households in the U.S. purchased VR headsets during winter 2021, and the technology is slated to continue rapidly expanding. In recent months, Facebook rebranded as Meta, Fortnite and Roblox hosted wildly successful metaverse concerts, and many more companies found ways to market themselves for the success of the metaverse.
Leverage VR Tablet to teach 21st Century Skills
To be successful in this environment, students benefit from learning:
- How to access VR content on tablets and use VR headsets
- How to stay safe while navigating the metaverse
- How to differentiate between ads and content
- How to create virtual reality experiences
Not only will these lessons keep kids safe in an increasingly connected world, but they will also prepare them for job training in future careers.
VR has exciting implications for the future of training in industries from manufacturing to medicine. Attempting procedures on a digital plane before doing the real thing has high potential to reduce error and promote high-impact lesson retention.
One PwC study found that VR training was 4x as fast as traditional classroom training, and left employees 275% more confident in applying their skills.
However, VR is only effective for learning when individuals understand how to use it. Otherwise, the distraction of using a new device makes it difficult to digest fresh information.
Introducing early elementary students to VR through tablets will set them up for a seamless transition to VR headset usage, and later to VR job training.
VR for Tablet: Experiential Learning
It’s no secret that children learn through play. Some researchers even believe that play may help young kids develop theory of mind, a critical life skill.
VR is cutting-edge technology with lots of opportunities for educating in a VR classroom, but at its core, its play. With virtual reality, children can become independent explorers and have fun engaging with new concepts.
This has exciting implications for learning. Children absorb a lot through experience and play. One study from 2018 demonstrated this with math lessons. Researchers randomly assigned 350 four and five year old children to play-based or training-based math lessons. Results showed a significantly higher learning outcome for the group that learned math through play. Researchers used cards and board games to gamify education in this study, but imagine the possibilities that open up with VR!
Beyond learning, play also helps students:
- Understand the world around them
- Experience joy and laughter
- Integrate motor functions
- Engage deep thinking skills
- Test hypotheses and make mistakes
- Interact with peers
When Are Kids Ready for a Tablet VR Headset?
Generally speaking, children are ready to make the move from a VR tablet to a VR headset once they turn 13. There are a few reasons for this, but the most important one is that headsets are currently designed to fit teens and adults, not children. A headset slipping off mid-play could pose a safety risk.
Beyond that, more research needs to be conducted about young children’s:
- Eyesight responses to immersive VR
- Physical responses to immersive VR
- Abilities to differentiate between reality and fantasy
Until that research is in, studies with older children show promising results. VR’s impact on eyesight is virtually the same as that of reading, studying, or any other activities done close to the eyes. Children are unlikely to experience negative physical responses to VR. Plus, teaching children about VR can be a great opportunity to discuss fantasy versus reality.
Our recommendation is to have children 13 and under stick to VR for the tablet rather than VR headsets. For older children who are using fully immersive VR tech, we recommend screencasting their experiences so that peers can follow along and adults can monitor for safety.
Using educator-designed virtual reality is also a great way to ensure safety, whether students are accessing VR from a headset, tablet, or other device.
What Virtual Field Trips Pair Well with Exploration Mode?
Educators can find many experiences for children to use without the need for a VR headset for their tablet.
All of our Kai XR field trips pair well with Exploration Mode! We aim to deliver high quality options to classrooms of all ages. You will not find violent content, inappropriate language, or any ads on Kai XR offerings. However, we do cover complex topics (conflict, displacement, etc.) in content that is best suited for our older learners. To help educators out, we list age guidelines on each Kai XR experience.
Ranging from cartoon dance parties to wind farm tours, our vast library has something for every child’s interests. Below, we’ll share a few experiences that are great for younger kids and pair well with a tablet VR viewer.
VR Tablet Experience: Cleaning Mount Everest
Even your youngest students have likely heard stories of daring climbers braving the peaks of Mount Everest. But have they heard much about the surrounding community or the effects of tourism on the area? Likely not. We have an experience that can provide!
In this Nat Geo trip, children get to explore the world’s most famous climbing destination while learning about efforts of Nepal’s Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee to keep the area clean. In the last decades, tourism to the area has grown enormously. Because Sagarmatha National Park does not yet have a waste management system, the area is often strewn with litter.
Locals are working to combat this problem by picking up trash and asking that tourists do the same.
This experience is an awesome opportunity for young classrooms to explore questions like:
- How can you help take care of a place you visit?
- Why is it important for people to work together?
- What are ways you can keep your classroom clean?
VR Tablet Experience: Explore Rhinos
In this experience, students meet a young rhino, Matimba, who is being protected from poachers by conservation biologists in South Africa.
Students will learn why the sale of rhino horns is a threat to the animals while also getting an inside look at a rhino sanctuary. As rhinos graze, a narrator shares fun facts about them that any VR kid will love (for example: rhinos smell dung to gather information!).
This experience is a great way to generate discussion with young children about conservation and animal communication. Educators can ask questions like:
- What are animal conservation efforts and why are they important?
- How do conservation biologists protect rescued animals?
- What are some ways rhinos communicate that are different from humans?
- Do you know any other animals that communicate differently than we do?
Plus, there is no tablet VR headset or tablet VR goggles required–you can view the full 360º experience from your mobile device with Kai XR’s Exploration Mode.
VR Tablet Experience: Hide & Seek
If you are an educator looking for new fun Friday offerings for your class, virtual reality field trips for the tablet can be a great option.
Our virtual library has a dedicated playground section, home to experiences like:
- A football game played by puppies
- A krusty krab adventure
- A virtual zoo field trip to see flamingos
- An animated short film about aliens and two adorable bunnies
We also have a fun hide and seek experience designed for our youngest viewers. In this interactive field trip, students are transported to a charming, animated witch’s cottage, where they are prompted to move their VR tablet and find interesting objects around the house.
This experience is a great opportunity to have students collaborate and work to find the hidden objects together.
Exploration Mode Gives Easy VR Tablet Access
At Kai XR, we want to teach 21st Century learning skills to every student with high-quality, inclusive lessons and a bit of VR magic.
We are also committed to student safety and carefully follow age recommendations for extended reality tech. That’s why we’re excited to offer Exploration Mode as a great option for early elementary school educators. With Exploration Mode, educators can:
- Prepare early learners for future VR use
- Teach young students how to navigate 360º videos
- Introduce elementary students to relevant topics in a globalized world
To access Exploration Mode, there is no specific VR headset for a samsung tablet or VR headset for an android tablet necessary. With Exploration Mode, there are no VR headsets necessary at all!
Students can use any tablet or mobile device to open Exploration Mode. Simply:
- Log in to your Kai XR account
- Click the icon at the bottom right corner of your screen
- Choose “Allow” on the pop-up box that appears
- Select a virtual field trip
- Explore the 360º experience by moving your device around
If you have any questions about Exploration Mode or Kai XR, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Looking for more info about introducing VR to younger students? Check out: