A Whole New World… Virtual Reality

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 28:  An attendee inspects Google Cardboard during the 2015 Google I/O conference on May 28, 2015 in San Francisco, California. The annual Google I/O conference runs through May 29.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By: Carolina Hughes

As virtual reality becomes more and more accessible, it is becoming more and more popular. There are many different kinds of virtual realities made by many different companies,and each of these products varies in price and quality. Google makes the Google Cardboard, which is a cardboard contraption that fits onto any Android phone, and then it turns the android phone into a virtual reality experience. HTC has made a consumer version of their Vive VR headset. Samsung has a VR headset that is powered by Oculus and Gear called 360 that is a camera that can shoot anything anywhere around it (360 degrees).  Nokia Ozo also has a VR headset that has a price tag of $60,000, and Intel has created a VR headset called RealSense. Visual Camp was created to make ads visible on Google street Views and then the ads will be interactive. SK Telecom has created a fully enclosed device that brings gaming to a whole other level.

All of these different versions of virtual reality could be used for one common purpose: virtual field trips. The thought is that kids would be able to use virtual reality to go to places that they otherwise may never visit. As Tim Moynihan reported for WIRED, “Using cheap cardboard headsets, Android phones, and a teacher-operated tablet, Google Expeditions lets students experience 360-degree views of places like Machu Picchu, outer space, and caves in Slovakia.” So, these field trips could be very useful, and the trips would allow students to learn about and visit places that may have been unreachable to them before. Teachers could choose a place that pertained to their current lesson and then immerse their students in that setting, teaching them about what is all around them. “Google will release a beta version of the Google Expeditions app for Android, so teachers and schools can download it to experience the virtual tours.” according to WIRED. The virtual field trips will soon be made very accessible and easy to use for schools across the world.

The question still remains though, does virtual reality replace the real thing? If schools come to rely on virtual reality as a replacement for all field trips, even the ones accessible to them, then students will miss out on seeing some things in person. I think most people agree that virtual reality cannot replace witnessing things in person. As much of a wonderful tool that virtual realities could be they should not replace all field trips. Kids still need to have the budding excitement of stepping on the bus to travel to place that sounds magical to them and getting a change of location for a day. So the question becomes where is the line drawn between what will be done in virtual reality and what students will still get to travel to and see in person?


image credit: www.time.com