Presenting Google Cardboard – Design Principles for Introducing the Potential for VR in the Classroom.

For my Course 3 final project, I decided to focus on the aesthetics of presentation design as described in “option 1”.  As I am also aiming to complete my GET certification with this program, this seemed like a great opportunity to practice giving a training seminar for colleagues which focuses on one of Google’s Educational initiatives/tools.

My initial thought was that a seminar focused on how to use Google’s most common apps, such as Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, Drive, etc., but I didn’t think that I would be adding much novelty to the professional development of my colleagues.  Many of us use these apps weekly, if not daily. In addition, many of us have ideas or knowledge about how to use these apps more fully, or more frequently, and thus, I turned my attention to one of Google’s newest offerings – Google Cardboard.

(Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/virtual-reality-consciousness-3039745/ by user Morgan 888)

As a technology enthusiast, I am very interested in the developments in Virtual Reality technology – not only for how it will impact my professional life as an educator, but also for the myriad of potential impacts to many other areas as well.  As an educator, I’m interested in the potential for VR technology to increase student engagement and motivation. As Alex Faaborg explains in the first few moments of his Ted Talk (see video below), just imagine the difference between having students sitting in desks to read about Mayan civilization from a textbook, compared to having them feel like they were themselves standing at the base of the temple Chichen Itza.  To me, as an educator, the choice for what I want for my students is clear.

Once I had decided on Cardboard as a topic, I searched out free templates to help kick-start my presentation design.  I found several sites, and looked closely at the designs/templates available at “Free Google Slides Templates”, and “Slides Carnival”.  (Both were recommended by my school’s Digital Coach.) After deliberating for longer than I wish to admit, I settled (for better or worse!) on this layout as a guide.  

I chose this template design for several reasons.  Firstly, I liked the darker color scheme, which is one of the principles of good presentation design.  I also liked the simplistic nature of the layout, which I also thought would give me the freedom to add my own curated content easily.  

As I designed the slides (or rather, in this case, redesigned them), I strove to keep things simple, and delete most extraneous small font text.  I wanted a minimum amount of words on each slide, so that my audience will be able to focus on what I am saying during the presentation, and not trying to read at the same time.  I also strove for a (somewhat) unified color scheme throughout, and a font that was easy to read.

I could write a whole separate blog post (or even a whole book) on the many uses of Google Cardboard for the classroom, but in the interest of brevity here, I will save that for a future post. (I found dozens of excellent blogs, websites, apps, and other resources related to Cardboard in my research for this presentation – I am looking forward to sharing more soon!)   I will however, walk you briefly through how the presentation is planned to unfold.

The title of the presentation is a bit of a homage to Dr. Seuss’sOh, the Places You’ll Go” (classic book), because the uses of Cardboard for educators really do conjure up thoughts of taking students on a trip somewhere interesting and special – even if we aren’t leaving the classroom.  I will proceed from here by explaining what Cardboard is, how it works, and showing a few short video clips demonstrating how it can be used.

On slide 6, I will give my audience the opportunity to experience Cardboard for themselves.  I will have about a dozen pre-assembled Cardboard visors ready, and audience members can then take about 10 minutes to explore/experience the three videos linked on the slide.  These videos were curated from YouTube’s VR Channel, and I specifically chose videos that may appeal to educators from a variety of content areas.  (Tour a Plant Cell = Science, Battle of Waterloo = History, Dreams of Dali = Art)

Slides 7 and 8 are designed to be resources that colleagues can explore in more detail after the presentation is over.  I will cover these slides, and talk about the resources linked in each one, but they are also designed to allow educators explore further on their own time, and according to their own needs and interests.  

Once I finished, I shared the presentation that I had created with some colleagues, who gave me some valuable feedback on how to tidy up a few details, as well as slight design changes to a few of the slides.  

I aim to use this presentation in an actual internal PD session at my school.  I have the pleasure of working with many ambitious and adventurous educators who are interested in innovation and trying out new approaches to teaching and learning.  Of course, technology (VR included) is never the end-goal itself, however, trying new approaches to expand students’ horizons and (hopefully) increase student engagement certainly is a valuable goal.  I also believe that VR can be an effective teaching tool/resource for students of all ages, in a wide variety of subject areas. This is a quickly emerging field, with tremendous potential.

One of the things I am most looking forward to is hearing back from people about how they feel that they could use Cardboard (or VR in general) in their courses.  I feel there is so much potential in this emerging field of educational technology, and we are in many ways limited by our own creativity.

As always, thanks for reading, and if you have any feedback for me, please leave a comment below.  I’m also interested to hear about any resources you may be able to share regarding Cardboard (or VR in general) and how it can be used in the classroom.  

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