The Spirit of Anzac is a touring exhibition featuring genuine artefacts and stories. To promote the tour the Australian War Memorial and the Australian Government have sent out packages to schools of about 10 Google Cardboard head sets in boxes. You can download the Spirit of Anzac 360 Explorer App from the App Store or Google Play.
The actual headset is already made when it arrives and is packaged within a cover to protect the set. It is quite robust (a little more sturdy than the Google Cardboard sets I have purchased from Ebay before and discusses in previous posts). The lenses are quite large, which will enhance the viewer experience, and some additional velcro and padding should also add to the experience.
The App provides an interactive tour of the displays at the Spirit of Anzac exhibition. Students can focus on a particular image and information pops up to explain the display. This isn't as immersive as some other Google Cardboard apps that I have reviewed, but given that it is being sent to schools for free and that the app is free it would be a useful and interesting way to engage students with the displays prior to a visit.
The exhibition is showing at:
Explore The Spirit of Anzac - What to Expect
Access the Spirit of Anzac Google Cardboard User Guide
Some other options of Google Cardboard/Virtual Reality apps that you might like to look at are:
War of Words VR
This VR experience uses the Seigfried Sassoon poem "The Kiss" as the basis of the experience. It is an animated experience created by BBC Arts. It promotes the feature-length documentary War of Words - Soldier-poets of the Somme.
Trench Experience enables the user to experience an authentic trench from world War I. This is like a virtual museum.
Diggers Trench VR
This VR experience is only available with Oculus Rift - not Google Cardboard. However, I imagine that as Google Cardboard begins to be used more that this will be the type of experiences that we can expect more of. This is more story based. As a new recruit you experience life in the tranches and are able to influence some of the events that unfold in the story.
How does online gaming relate to the topic of Consumer Choice?
What are the consumer decisions you have to make as an online gamer?
Your friends have recently introduced you to online gaming, but you don't know a lot about it.
Investigate the range of online gaming products and services available.
- What are the different products and services?
- What are the similaraities/differences between the different products?
- Are there different brands associated with particular online gaming products? What are they?
Research a particular product related to online gaming. It may be a particular gaming console, a subscription to a particular game or gaming accessories. Ensure that you choose something that can be purchased in a range of different places (online or real)/shops. Compare the prices and deals that are available for the purchase of this item. Keep a record of all the details including price, specifications, and where it is available. Record this information in a table.
Discuss the need for consumer protection for online gamers. (approx. 1 typed page)
Create a website which teaches your classmates about consumer choice and the need for consumer protection for online gaming.
The Australian Museum is currently hosting two David Attenborough Virtual Reality experiences - one on the Great Barrier Reef and one on prehistoric life in oceans.
It used a Gear VR headset and headphones to provide this experience. Inside the headset was a Samsung device which provided the audiovisual stimulus. This operated very similarly to the cheaper models you can buy on Ebay (see a previous post - Google Cardboard - bringing virtual reality to your classroom) however this more sophisticated set fits to your face without having to hold it, has padding around the eyes and the head phones are quite good quality. This is clearly a more superior virtual reality experience than the Google Cardboard, but I think that is to be expected given the obvious price difference.
The two experiences were relatively short, but were successful in giving the viewer a feeling of being immersed, particularly the First Life presentation which had slightly longer continuous sections in full 360 view. The experiences were part documentary, part virtual reality immersion experience. The Great Barrier Reef experience began with the viewer flying out to part of the reef on a helicopter. By moving your head to the left you could see the back rotor blades and by looking up you could see top rotor blades. The view in front and below was of the reef from above. The footage included of the Great Barrier Reef demonstrated the scale of some of the reef structures and the diversity and number of organisms. The experience has some documentary-style sections where coral polyps and reef building are explained. This provides a short, but effective session aimed to develop the awareness of the viewer about the reef and ends with a call to action for us to act on climate change and protection of the reef.
The First Life session was in the style of computer rendered animations. At first I was aware of the difference between this style as compared with the previous 360 video style of the Great Barrier Reef session, but after a short time I forgot about it. This session has longer periods of the 360 immersive experience and it works quite well. You actually get the sensations of feeling like you are moving and some of the quick movements of the species are very effective in making you feel like you are present in the experience.
As I have discussed in a previous post, this is an emerging technology that still has a long way to go before it is truly valuable to educational outcomes, other than just purely addressing engagement. The sessions were very good, but require greater length and detail to be really useful in an educational setting. Regardless, I think this is a really powerful technique, and these particular sessions give us a real idea of what the future of documentary making is going to be. If get the chance - go and have a look.
Virtual reality is an artificial, computer generated recreation of a real life situation or a simulation of an imagined or created environment (like a virtual tour). The view feels immersed in the experience.
David Attenborough’s virtual reality experience has shown us the relevance of this type of activity to the study of geography and coral reefs specifically.
Hear David Attenborough talk about his virtual reality experience:
My Google Cardboard class set arrived on Friday. Google have designed a really cost effective way to allow people to access virtual reality. As a kid of the 80s, I remember using my Mattel View Master to look at scenes from movies and TV shows. Google Cardboard kind of works the same way, except that instead of using slide cards you use your phone to view the experience. Before I get too far into this, virtual reality is by no means a substitute for fieldwork, and I think we are a long way off before anyone could even try to claim that. This is just a fun activity, with the potential to enhance learning in the future as the apps and technology develops.
There are a range of different headsets that you can buy to experiment with virtual reality, There are different brands, materials, sizes and quality. As a first foray into this world, I have gone for pretty much the cheapest option available. In my opinion, if you are intending to use it in your classes, you are going to want to get one of the cheaper models so that you can have more of them for your students, and so that it isn't such a big deal if they get broken. The Google Cardboard in the image below cost about $2.00 on ebay. The other headset featured cost about $10-15 dollars, and was purchased from Typo.
So what do you need?
- A viewer
- A smartphone (for each viewer, so you might have to ask the students to download the app and use their own phones).
- A range of virtual reality apps downloaded (you will need to do some research to find the right one for your topic and students).
Below: A version of Google Cardboard available on Ebay for about $5.
There are a few apps that you can use to access the experiences:
- Google Cardboard
- Youtube (use 360 videos)
- Street View
Affordable access to virtual reality experiences is relatively new, and the apps and experiences are really only beginning to become available. When you open the apps, you will see a split screen with two images that are roughly the same, but shown at slightly different angles. When you place your phone inside the Google Cardboard and look at it through the lenses it will give the impression of being 3 dimensional. This will enable your students to feel like they are immersed in the environment.
The simplest way to use virtual reality is Youtube 360.
Simply go to Youtube and search “coral 360 video”. A range of options will come up that you can use with or without head sets.
These have been generally designed for tourists, but may be an easy way to begin to introduce virtual reality if you are a little apprehensive.
The benefit of using Youtube 360 is that you can use it on your desktop computer/laptop if you don’t have access to personal devices.
The Google Cardboard app is really quite interesting, and provides a number of examples that give you an idea of what the potential will be, but in terms of education, in my opinion it is not all the valuable just yet. What it does show is what the potential is. The screenshots below show an example of an Arctic environment. When you select different items in the scene a popup appears providing some basic information about the feature. Given the right scene or environment, and the right level of information this could be useful in an educational sense if it were developed further.
A couple of the great virtual experiences are the ones where you are immersed in a real environment (rather than a cartoon-like environment). Street View enables you to explore places with the full 360 degrees. Click Explore, Choose a location, and click the Google Cardboard icon. You do really feel like you are part of the place. This could be valuable in helping students develop an appreciate of the places you are studying, and to get a better understanding of what those places are actually like
Virtual reality lesson 1
Use Google Streetview to examine a range of sites around the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Triangle. Choose specific sites, eg, several locations around Lizard Island, or Kimbe Bay. Compare the two main virtual field sites.
Students can make judgements about the quality of the corals, the colours of the corals, etc.
Students may try to identify specific types of coral to compare complexity and biodiversity (although this may be a bit too complicated).
Students can use this as a form of observation to be backed up with secondary data
Open the Within app.
Select Valen’s Reef.
This presentation follows a local fisherman explaining the pressures on him and his local reef.
A narrative is provided over the footage of the reef and the island
Students can maneuver around the scene to access 360o views.
Students will feel immersed in the scene and the story.
Virtual reality lesson 2 - Valen's Reef
Students view Valen’s Reef, using the Within app.
A couple of quick questions:
Discovery VR app
The Discovery VR app has a number of presentations that relate to Geography generally, and a series “Sharks Among Us” which can be tied in with Marine Environments generally or coral reefs.
Examine Google Cardboard here: https://vr.google.com/cardboard/
You can follow Google Classroom on twitter at @GoogleVR.
I attended the Department of Education’s STEM Showcase (see the tweet feed at #STEMShowcase). In case you’ve been living under a rock – STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. STEM is clearly a movement that is gaining momentum, and my question is where does geography fit into this? Or History? Or Commerce? I have been trying to think of a new acronym to get us in on this movement. If you have any ideas, please let me know. What occurred to me is how many of these STEM projects have very obvious crossovers with humanities subjects, particularly geography. This post will look at a few of the presentations that I saw today and some ideas of how humanities subjects could also be included.
Baulkham Hills High School – Weather TECH
Students created a STEM project involving the construction of a weather station. This involved a design process, coding of the equipment, manufacturing the equipment with a 3D printer, and collecting and analysing weather data.
In the Science faculty, this was undertaken as part of a student research project. In TAS, students developed skills in using CAD and CAM software and Arduino to design, code and create the equipment. In Maths, students' skills were developed in analysing and presenting the vast amount of weather data collected. Students (and teachers) successfully created a working model with equipment collecting weather data every second. The real world applications to agriculture were emphasised.
In the new NSW Geography syllabus the WeatherTECH project would fit easily within the Water In the World topic, particularly Water resources and the Water cycle. It also addresses fieldwork requirements – using weather instruments.
Examine the WeatherTECH project site.
Bellingen High School - Survive the Shake
The topic of this STEM project was earthquake proof buildings. Students designed, produced and evaluated a multi-storey building with a small fooprint, which was specified. Students were provided with a design process to follow which provided a scaffold to follow during project. Students were required to use cheap materials such as straws, toothpicks, marshmallows, etc to create a model of their buildings. Building designs were tested on an earthquake shake table created by the teachers.
In the Science faculty, the project tied into content related to earthquake size and magnitude, damage and destruction and prediction of quakes. In Maths it tied in with content related to geometry, 3D design shapes and budgets. The construction of the buildings and the design process involved the TAS faculty.
In the new NSW Geography syllabus the Survive the Shake project would fit into Landforms and Landscapes, particularly Geomorphic hazards. This could easily incorporate the inquiry based learning skills in the syllabus.
Examine the Survive the Shake project site.
Riverside Girls High – Post-Earth Survival
The girls at Riverside completed a STEM project examining the requirements to sustain life. Students explored the universe and designed a colony suitable for sustaining life on another planet. Students focused on: What do humans need to survive?
The project used a design process from the TAS faculty and this was used to determine project milestones. TAS introduced the students to the tools they would need to complete the project such as Sketch Up, 3D printing, etc.
Students brainstormed what it would be like if they were locked inside their house and had to stay there for 2-3 years. What would they need? What would they have to change? Students collected data on energy and water use in their own homes. From a Maths perspective students had to develop problem solving and reasoning skills, as well as data analysis. The project also incorporated the EcoMuve program from Harvard University. Assessment and presentation involved peer review and feedback.
In the new NSW syllabus the Post-Earth Survival project would fit into Place and Liveability, particularly Influences and perceptions. This could also incorporate the inquiry based learning skills in the syllabus.
Examine the Post-Earth Survival project site.
Promoting Geography and boosting numbers
A lot of time, effort and money is being spent on promoting STEM to our students. As Geography teachers, we are constantly looking for ways to promote our subject and boost senior numbers. There are plenty of ways to do this, but I think getting involved in STEM projects or at least other cross curriculum projects might be one idea that is worth a bit more consideration.
Examine the Urban Observatory website.
Compare London, Tokyo and New York.
Compare different aspects of these cities by choosing different themes from the left hand menu.
Population Density and housing density: Describe the population and housing density of London. Where are the densest areas? Are particularly dense areas in a particular part of the city?How is the density spread out across the city - does it spread out radially? is it north/south, etc. How do these results compare with New York and Tokyo? How would you account for the differences?
Work - Commercial and Industrial: Describe where the commercial areas of the city are located. Where are the industrial areas located? How does this compare to New York and Tokyo? Account for the differences.
Movement - Road speed, traffic and airports: How would you compare the road speeds and traffic evident between the three cities? Why would this be the case? How would it impact on the way the city functions? What information can we gather about the importance of the airports in New York and London? Account for the difference in flight numbers between the two cities.
In teaching, you don't have time to do everything and know everything you need to. That is why it is imperative that you make use of other teachers' knowledge. A Professional Learning Network will allow you to get the most up-to-date resources, best advice and time saving tips. I am currently faculty where only one or two of us use social networking for education purposes. Most of faculty don't really use it at all. This post is really for people who are in this category. If you found this post through twitter or Facebook or the like, then you aren't going to learn anything new here.
People you already know
I have always found it amazing that some people in a faculty or school will share everything while others will share nothing. My theory is that if you want to encourage other people to share then you need to show them how it is done. Start with your faculty and any teachers you already know - share your email address and ensure that you swap resources regularly. Once you start emailing copies of some of your handouts, programs, etc other teachers will start doing the same. For older staff introduce them to shared drives, cloud storage or whatever will work to get them sharing. Keep in mind that some people may not share because the technological side of things is too daunting. Make it easy for them and try not to get frustrated - otherwise you may miss out on a great resource.
Join groups like GTANSW, EBE, WESSSTA and MESSTA. Each group will have strengths and weaknesses and may focus more heavily on one subject or specific year groups. The more memberships you have the greater your exposure to all of this information. Also the more you get involved the more you can influence these groups to provide anything that you think is missing. Click on the titles below to find out more about each association:
Geography Teachers Association of NSW
History Teachers Association of NSW
Western Sydney Social Science Teachers Association Inc
Legal Studies Association of NSW Inc
Economic and Business Educators
Social networking, particularly twitter is a great way to connect with other teachers locally and from around the world. You can use social networking to connect with specialists in your field. For example, if you are a History teacher you might subscribe or follow @archaeologynews and get the most recent updates about excavations around the world. You might also find it useful to subscribe or follow general blogs or tweets about teaching in general. DEC and TAFE staff can use Maang/Yammer, but I think most educators prefer Twitter. There are also a range of Facebook groups for teachers of certain subjects. A particularly active group is Geography Teachers Online, but there are many others. Don't forget to use tools like Skype and Google hangouts to connect with people and share ideas.
Subscribe to corporate feeds from the DEC and BOSTES. You can do this using your email, Twitter, Facebook or a range of other social networking sites. You can also subscribe to organisations related to your specific subject such as WWF or Greenpeace.
You should also have a good knowledge of your rights and responsibilities. You can do this by staying up to date with union news through email subscriptions, the regular hard-copy publications and meetings at your school and within your region. When you first begin your career it can seem expensive to be part of the union, but it is important that you make yourself aware of what it offers. You should also download a copy of the most recent Award as this sets out core hours you need to be on the premises, breaks that you are entitled to, behaviours that are acceptable, etc.
For the NSW Teachers Federation (DEC schools) visit the website: http://www.nswtf.org.au/
For the Independent Education Union for NSW/ACT (non-DEC schools) visit their website: http://www.ieu.asn.au
The most important point in all of this is to share your ideas and be open to the ideas of others.
I was lucky enough to attend the first ever TM Geography a couple of weeks ago. The teachmeet was held at Saint Ignatius' College on Monday 5 and was hosted by Jessica Lonard.
Using infographics in assessment
Jessica Lonard, our host, began the presentations with a presentation on how to use infographics in assessment of student learning. The room was decorated with examples of her students' work. There are a range of programs that can be used to create these infographics. One of the easiest is Picktochart. Other programs include Infogr.am, visual.ly, and easel.ly.
For further information you might like to check out 10 free tools for creating infographics.
Spotlight - ABS
Sharon McLean presented a session on Spotlight from the Australian Bureau of Statistics which I have discussed in a previous blog: Australia's Population. This program brings population statistics about Australia to life by presenting them in a fun interactive voiced by Shaun Micallef.
Flipping the geography classroom
Ryan Gill presented a session about the challenges and successes of flipping his classroom including creating the videos, winning over parents and keeping students engaged. Flipping the classroom is a strategy where students are exposed to new material outside of the classroom through the use of videos, readings, etc and then class time is used to consolidate the new learning through activities such as discussions, problem solving and debates.
Google Tour builder
Mick Law from Contour Education showed us the latest and greatest mapping tools, concentrating mainly on the new Google Tour Builder. This seems to be a much simpler way to create a virtual tour than through Google Earth.
Kate Corcoran showed us how she uses Nearpod in her classroom. Nearpod is a program that allows you to set up interactive quizzes and surveys and enables sharing between groups. Students log into a group and can access the resources that the teacher has made available to them on their devices. The teacher can control the students' screen while they are part of the group.
Thinglink is a site which enables you to create interactive images. Di Laycock showed us how you can add comments, images, videos and music to create a multimedia experience from a still image.
Creating virtual field sites
I went through the process of creating a virtual field site to give students access to field sites which they would not otherwise be able to experience. This is done by combining videos, photos, google tours, and links to articles all combined with the use of a blog site or website builder like weebly.
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the new Geoactive book series.