“I want to have my students create VR simulations so they can learn both how these are made and how a student can apply newly-gained knowledge in a meaningful way.”
This is a common sentiment from teachers the world over. Unsurprisingly, a teacher in India is no different from a teacher in Canada, who is no different from a teacher in Poland. We want our students to gain knowledge, deepen that understanding, then ultimately apply said knowledge in a creative way. As teachers, we know that there are no shortcuts in education, and accept that various parts of the educational process are most efficient when they build upon each other. Let’s see how that applies to immersive learning, and virtual reality.
At Veative, we are teachers. Full stop. We live, breathe and speak education. We come into this in an honest, practical and feasible way. It’s because of this that we have always called ourselves an educational contents company, and not a VR company. If you’ve read through the site, this has been made infinitely obvious. Why is this important? It means that our point of departure is most definitely on the side of educators, administrators and IT personnel, everywhere. This is the reason that although we have met with, studied, and had deep conversations with many of the VR editing companies that you have likely come to know over the past 4 years, we have not gone on to a full collaboration with any of them. To be perfectly honest, each one of them has a wonderful product, and everyone that we have met in these companies has been an interesting and clever person. Hat’s off to them.
A full collaboration was always meant to be in the cards. But we couldn’t go forward with them because of a few nagging issues. If those issues (such as bandwidth, storage costs, lagging internet, router setup, and so on) would just be passed along to a school, we never felt comfortable doing so. That has been our dilemma, and the high bar that has been set internally.
You see, at Veative, we need to make sure that every student the world over has an opportunity to learn from the VR resources we have created. We don’t cater to private schools only, but to every one. Every. One. Disadvantaged school in Kenya? We’ve got you. Private school in Dubai? You’ll be scratching your head, wondering why you didn’t find us earlier. So, what does all of this have to do with creating VR projects on your own? Everything. You see, when you put the burden and (financial, infrastructure) dependencies on a school or district, you simply don’t understand or take full account of the realities of education. Sure, almost every school in the world has some amount of internet connectivity. If you wish to share kilobytes or maybe megabytes of data, most schools can make that happen. But with VR projects, and filmed content (which is extremely heavy by nature), we are now talking about gigabytes of data. That is for 1 student project! Multiply that by a classroom of creators and further extend that to multiple classrooms, and you can see that the wheels fall off very quickly. This is a burden that either we live with, or we pass along to you. As previously stated, I can’t pass that along to you, in all good conscience. So, what’s the answer? A fully offline solution, with an online option for further convenience.
We are just about to launch such a solution. In the next blog, coming very soon, you can learn more about this, the crux of which is that you should not have any extra costs (bandwidth or storage costs), or a dependency on extremely reliable, high-speed internet to be able to give students the opportunity to be creative. It’s a simple thing:
1. Offline. Make the VR project on a PC. Film your school, bring in other 360 images or backgrounds and then get creative. Add interactivity, links to other scenes, image popups, audio events, descriptions, quizzes and so on. Go to it! Compile your project, connect an EduPro headset and view that project in virtual reality. Share with your teacher or friends. You never have to touch the internet and never need to incur charges or delays. Simple. That’s the basic package.
2. Online. A premium package leveraging the convenience of internet connectivity. Still make your project completely offline, but when you are ready to share, you can stream that to other headsets, stream to a phone, add in collaborative features, segregate students into classes, and so on. That convenience will cost you a little more, plus add a storage/bandwidth dependency. If that is not a problem for your school, then this could be a very good option. Plus, you have the benefit that if the internet goes down, or is lagging, students can still complete their tasks because we haven’t made everything dependent on that part of the infrastructure.
To get a bit more info about online/offline, you can go to this page and watch the video. Years of experience has informed our approach as to how content can feasibly be shared with students, teachers, schools, and districts. We have the world’s largest library of interactive, curriculum-aligned VR content, and yet we make that completely available on a headset, 100% offline.
In 2016, we came out with a solution which included a router. By the end of 2017, we learned our lesson when the burden we put upon the “less-technical” teachers was far too high to manage, and we dropped that dependency. It is something that works (sort of), but is not a solution. If someone comes to you with a router in their hand, swearing to have “the solution”, either send them away, or turn around and run the other way, because they have come with a technical setup, and not an educational solution.
We have chosen to create the content rather than film it. This allows us to control file sizes, and introduce more interactive features. However, schools are unlikely to be able to do that, which is understandable. So, the next best, and easiest, way is to film that project with a 360 camera, and add some features to that project. Easy enough for a Junior High student to do, however managing file sizes will be both a necessary evil, as well as a fantastic learning opportunity. Everything has a cost! The cost for filmed content is size (storing, moving, and streaming). A student needs to consider how to minimize file sizes, while also maximizing the learning. That isn’t easy, and the reason why a company like Veative exists.
These are a few issues to consider when thinking about creating/editing VR on one’s own. In the next blog post, we will unveil the newest addition to the Veative platform, and go further in detail about what this all means, and why a methodical approach is worth the time, and effort
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