More often than not, we think of technology of being expensive. When it comes to VR (Virtual Reality) even more so.

The inspiration to believe that inserting VR in my EFL classes was feasible came from watching this video: https://youtu.be/mlYJdZeA9w4

Cardboard + lenses = accessible VR
This is possible because of Google Cardboard Box. More info here http://goo.gl/ZbX5kM

I got fascinated by the possibilities shown :

  • Field trip to Verona, Italy (integration with Literature)
  • Field trip under the water (integration with Biology)
  • Visit the Great Wall of China (integration with math to calculate how long it would take to walk the length of the wall)

I started to wonder then :

  • How can I integrate VR with the teaching of English as a foreign language?
  • Would it be well accepted in all age ranges?
  • How would my students react to the idea?

Integrating VR to class purpose & content It’s a given that the use of tech must add to the learning experience. As an EFL teacher, I thought of the following integration to the different levels and age ranges that I teach:

Kids - Visit castle Neuschwanstein in Germany (key vocabulary : Homes, they had just watched an animation ‘ Hotel Transylvanya and boy lives in a castle)

Teenagers & Adults C1 level - They were supposed to use a variety of adjectives to describe landscape.

I divided the students in trios and each group visited a diferent location: Fort Qaitbey, Alexandria; Zeus Cave, Aydi; Cappadocia, The Fairy Chimneys and Pyramids of Giza, Cairo Another class of C1 Adults - They were studying about Passive Voice for reporting. The idea then was to visit an unknown place for them and describe it using the proposed verb tense. Teenagers A2 level- Reading passage about The Milky Way and planets. We could ‘visit’ it and drop by the Moon (Apollo 17) ! In another class we could also visit some rooms in Buckingham Palace!

The role of technology using Google Cardboard Box was to make it possible for the students to experience the ideas proposed in the designed classes and in their coursebooks. That was more intense and meaningful than just looking at a photo. Afterwards, while doing the follow up task, they could still recall the sensation of having been to the place.

Key Considerations

  1. Integration with the proposed class. Otherwise, students will see no connection between the tool and learning. It’ll be only a distraction.
  2. From my experience, I suggest the duration of the tour, up to two minutes. That’s really enough to have the feeling of exploring the place.
  3. Make sure that students hold the cardboard with both hands and place their fingers in a way that it keeps the mobile phone firm.
  4. It’s possible to previously download the places from the app Cardboard. This is very helpful, especially when an internet connection is not available.

Also, Youtube has some great VR videos, recorded in 360º The Resource Cardboard VR headset can be bought in the UK for about £ 15 I bought one here in Brazil and downloaded the app Cardboard in Google Play for free. Class Design Students were divided in trios and had a task to perform, according to the class objective. Meanwhile, I called students one by one to use the Cardboard. Each trio was assigned a different location to see. Some months ago I was invited to take part in a pilot class using Google Cardboard Box. There was a pair for each student and they could explore the location at the same time. That was an ideal scenario, but how often do we have that? I decided to work with what was available for me : one single Google Cardboard Box set I bought and my mobile phone. It took me longer and I had to adjust the content so that students were producing while I called them one by one to use the Cardboard Box set I had. Well, it was worth it! They felt very excited and enjoyed the experience. It added value to the activity.

Quoting Benjamin Franklin: ‘Tell me and I forget, Teach me and I may remember, Involve me and I learn’ Creativity in integrating technologies to enhance the learning experience is certainly a feature of the 21st century. ;) Raquel Gonzaga June 2016

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