How To Use VR/AR Technology In Your Classroom In 2018


Despite the ominous messages that Black Mirror has warned its viewers about the advancement of AR and VR (let’s hope none of us end up in the USS Callister), the technologies are growing and here to stay. AR and VR for education is also a budding field, and we even had the pleasure of sharing ideas with content creators at a recent VR for Education meetup right around the corner from our office in Dumbo, Brooklyn.


With the release of Apple’s ARKit for iOS and Google’s ARCore, AR & VR continue to trickle into the mainstream. You’ve probably already experienced AR/VR in your daily life as well, such as playing the global sensation Pokemon Go or the AR adaptation of one of most beloved children’s book classics of all time, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. 

But what does the rise of virtual and augmented reality mean for the world of education? More importantly, how can teachers effectively use these tools in the classroom?


We had the pleasure of seeing innovative ideas for the classroom pop up at SXSWEdu, where panelists such as @jlindl, @Garlicsuter, @RafranzDavis @jordanbudi, @unity3d discussed VR content creation by students, and how AR/VR technology can shape the future of the classroom.

Many educators may feel uncomfortable with new technologies, especially with something as complex as VR/AR. However, Jordan Budi, a computer science teacher on the panel reassured concerned educators: 

“[…] I don’t know all the words in the dictionary but I can read and write in English. Likewise, you don’t need to know everything about a programming language or emerging technology in order to to start building things.”

Part of what we do at ProjectEd is advise companies in the execution of bringing new technology into the classroom. As educators know, the classroom is a unique and sometimes unpredictable environment replete with its own unique pitfalls and obstacles. Often times these are not rooted in the technology itself but related to the way it’s introduced or used.

Like many edtech companies, we want to put the needs of educators first and suggest practical solutions for the classroom. Here are some useful ways that teachers can use AR/VR in the classroom, making learning more interactive, along with some important developments to look out for in the near future:

1. Turn the classroom into an interactive learning experience.

Teachers are crafty folks and with this year’s introduction of ARKit for iOS and Google’s ARCore, teachers are even more empowered to find creative ways to incorporate AR and VR into their lesson plans and create their own activities. Apps like Aurasma, Aug That and Paint Space AR allow teachers to create activities and turn worksheets and bulletin boards into more engaging learning experiences.

Other apps like Creator AVR are more robust VR/AR authoring platforms that allow a teacher to create their own lessons and content using AVR’s library of assets and tools.

2. Use Devices That Schools Already Have

Since budgets and resources are always a major concern when it comes to introducing products to teachers and their classrooms, developments in AR and VR that expand the capability of mobile devices will outpace their higher end counterparts in schools. Inexpensive devices like Google cardboard can be used along with a cell phone to take students on virtual field trips like Google Expeditions and Learn around the World. Classrooms could also use a standalone phone or iPad to study and dissect human anatomy with apps like The Visible Body AR

At SXSWEDU, we were able to experience the wonders of MergeCube, where users can create unique “holograms” and view the experience through their phones. Students can re-create and explore the solar system or even ancient museum artifacts, all at the palm of their hands.


Here is a first look at Museum Viewer for #MERGECube. You can hold artifacts in your hands and place them in the real world (to scale). What artifacts would you like to see? How will you use this app in the classroom? #AR #arvrinedu #STEMeducation

— MERGE #SXSWEdu (@MergeVR) March 5, 2018

3. Infrared (IR) motion tracking are coming to mobile phones

In this case, it may not be so bad that a student always has their phone on them. Time to take out the keys to the “phone jail” you have in your desk.

IR tracking may soon be available for mobile devices. Typically, IR tracking involves the placement of external sensors in the play environment that tracks the user’s headset position relative to the 3D environment. This allows for the feeling of true immersion, where you can look under and around objects, in the virtual world. However, one of the big limitations of higher end systems connected to IR tracking devices is its immobility, since the headset must be tethered to a base computer. This separates higher end systems like Oculus and HTC from their cheaper counterparts such as Google Cardboard and Gear VR. Currently, this functionality doesn’t exist for mobile headsets.

This is where IR for mobile comes in handy, especially for the classroom. Mobile phones already have a lot of the hardware and functionality built in. Students would not be restricted to just head motion from a fixed position but they could crawl over and under obstacles to see what lies underneath or roam the class as if in an actual location. This could potentially transform the classroom into a fully immersive environment.

4. Keep your eyes straight ahead: the development of foveated rendering.

Students and teachers can keep an eye on the prize. Literally. Foveated rendering is a technique that takes advantage of eye-tracking technology built into the headset. It reduces the image rendering workload by decreasing the quality of the images in your peripheral vision. Simulating normal vision where the the greatest focus is on the area being gazed at.

This is a quickly moving space and new apps are popping up daily, so download a few, try them out, and stay tuned.

Check out this periodic table shared during SXSWEDU for teachers to try VR/AR.

Interesting chart from VR/AR Chart for teacher thinking about @SXSWEDU @EdTrexPD #SXSWEDU

— Matthew Winters (@TeacherWinters) March 5, 2018


You can also try these 32 AR apps for the classroom

Did you attend #SXSWEDU and have some AR/VR ideas for the classroom? Share your ideas with us @_projected!

Educator Feedback: Why Your Product Development Process Needs It Early and Often


Imagine you’re building a house for a young family. You might think you know what’s best for them. You go straight out and build a house with an open concept design so that Mom and Dad will be able to watch the kids at all times. But when the family moves in, they tell you an open concept makes it too difficult for the kids to concentrate on homework while Dad is cooking or Mom is watching TV.

They don’t like what you’ve built, and now you have a house with no one to live in it.

In reality, people have these conversations before they build, during the design process—so why don’t we have these conversations with educators before we build education products?

Part of the answer is that obtaining educator feedback can be tough. Educators are strapped for time and incentivizing feedback can lead to ethical dilemmas. These factors make it challenging to get educators to review a prototype, let alone review the initial phase of the design process.

Many companies (including ours), are solving this problem by creating educator feedback programs. We’ve assembled an advisory panel of go-to educators who are comfortable telling us what they love (or hate) about a product at any step of the design process.

We’ve built a relationship with our advisory panel that avoids the conflicts of interest a organization like ours might face, but for companies that sell directly to schools and educators, setting up a program like this can be much more challenging.

“It’s tricky territory,” said Nadia Williams, Digital Learning Coordinator for Cobb County School District in Georgia and advisory board member. “On one hand, you have the question of ethics, and on the other hand you have countless situations where educators aren’t compensated. But the realm of education shouldn’t be different from other fields. Educators should be provided compensation for our influence and expertise, as long as it doesn’t create a questionable foundation for the education of our children.”

How should I structure my program?

Everything depends on the kind of product you’re building. For example, if your product is more hands on, you may want to host a handful of in-person sessions throughout the year. However, if your product is primarily digital, weekly virtual chats might make more sense.

The most important thing is to respect educators’ precious time. Try to include them at planned, crucial moments instead of trying to fit them into day-to-day decision-making.

What makes educators want to join the product development process?

“Companies need to ask themselves what they are asking this person to do and whether they are compensating them in a fair way,” said Dr. Leigh A. Hall, professor at the University of Wyoming and advisory board member.

While a stipend is a great place to start, there are multiple ways your team can compensate educators for the time they spend reviewing your product. Summer workshops and internship programs can act as a way to repay your educators with new skills and networking connections.

Does your feedback process feel like a marketing or sales ploy?

“There is a fine line between having natural conversations about a product you love, and becoming a pseudo-salesperson for an edtech company,” said Williams.

Your partnerships with educators should not be a sales push. These relationships get sticky when it seems like companies are influencing teacher advisory board members to buy from them. Feedback sessions should encourage participants to debate the good and the bad in a potential product and to do so honestly.

What if my company isn’t ready to create an internal review process?

If your team determines that an internal process for educator feedback isn’t possible, there are other resources you can turn to. For example, the University of Virginia recently supported the launch of a new online hub where educators are paid for sharing their experiences with edtech products. Additionally, you can partner with companies that have their own educator advisory boards. These companies, like ProjectEd, have worked through these details and have the structure in place to collaborate with educators in an effective and ethical way.


Hoping to get more insights from educators at all levels of instruction? SXSW EDU will host a range of educator-led sessions. Continue the conversation on vendor-educator partnerships with us during our panel. And of course, if your team is stuck on how to implement an educator feedback program, connect with us here to get expert perspectives.