The Emergence of VR at ISTE 2016

By Todd Marks

Every year, I gear up for the new innovations in EdTech I’ll learn about at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference. This year’s ISTE Conference was hosted in scenic Denver, CO from June 26th - June 29th. When thinking about all of the noteworthy people, exhibits and sessions I encountered during my 4 days at ISTE, one theme truly stands out as a stimulating movement in EdTech - the emergence of virtual reality (VR) in the classroom.

Educators and innovators are bringing experiential learning tools into the classroom through the use of VR, allowing students the opportunity to see and experience the world through realistic applications and hands-on expeditions. ISTE 2016 boasted sessions dedicated to experiencing the VR movement, including:


Hall Davidson of Discovery Education presented an engaging session outlining how the use of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and QR codes (QR) in schools is growing every year. The impact on the economy, education and communication is predicted to be huge. There was an explanation of  connecting real objects with layered realities in the cloud or on dedicated devices, QR, AR and VR classroom examples and how to make them on tablets and phones. Participants also learned of commercial uses for QR, AR and VR, companies using them, including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and products using them, including cars, real estate and food.


Google Cardboard has presented an affordable and accessible medium to experience VR in the classroom through the use of smartphones. This session was presented by Maria Jose Castillo, Andrea Chidan, Stephanie De la Rocha, Maria Fernanda Gamboa, Mariana Malfavon and Elizabeth Pinzon of  Centro Escolar Los Altos. This session was created by Centro Escolar Los Altos students in collaboration with students from other parts of the world to allow participants, using the Google Cardboard app, to experience a VR tour from our stand to landmarks all over the world.


Presented by Jaime Donally of Gladewater ISD & EDCAMP GLOBAL, this session allowed participants to experience learning with VR by exploring sea life as a scuba diver, jumping out of a plane in a wingsuit, going on an elephant walk in Africa and much more using YouTube 360 videos and other VR apps. The VR exploration tools used included DiscoveryVR, Google Cardboard and VRJump. A collaborative discussion at the end sparked new ideas on how to take learning to the next level.


Through a creative mashup of hands on lab time to explore apps, personal kinesthetic build time and small group discussions with reporting breakouts, Len Scrogan of the University of Colorado-Denver presented an exploration of 3D content in VR. A number of issues were addressed, from the technology's educational strengths and weaknesses to disinfecting the headgear and dealing with 3D vision syndrome. Participants discovered 3D VR activities for the classroom, teaching strategies, low-cost options for hardware and what's on the horizon for this cutting-edge educational technology.

Overall, this year’s ISTE Conference did not disappoint. Having an enhanced view of the world through the use of VR leads to rich observations and sparks discussion about the world around us. The use of VR in the classroom promotes collaborative experiences for students to create comparative observations that can be presented to fellow classmates, proving that VR can foster teamwork, communication and problem solving.

For more information on how Mindgrub has embraced the VR revolution, check out our new Holodeck - a room dedicated to experiencing VR in a controlled environment. Mindgrub Labs is adopting the wave of wearable technology; contact us for more information!

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