My very first time with VR in class

As a child, I was a tech enthusiast. Born in 1980, I am an active member of a lucky generation which could see the evolution of computers from gigantic monsters which could occupy an entire building so as to produce what we know today as a very limited amount of data, to micro technology,which enables us to store virtually anything in a “cloud” of information.

When I started teaching, back in the last century (phew, I AM getting old), rooms were constituted of a blackboard, chalk, chairs and books, lots of them. Don’t get me wrong, drop me at a library and I could get happily lost for a month, but looking at our classes nowadays, with interactive whiteboards and entire books available at the palm of our hands, it is like showing a colorful lollipop to a little kid. I’m excited, I know.

So then, at my very first post here, I would like to share my very first experience with a piece of technology I could hardly imagine would exist when I was a little kid. This week, I brought VR glasses to class, in order to enhance students’ experience when describing a landscape or an experience.

After a whole class, exposing students to adverb+adjective collocations, to language frames to express comparatives and to give opinions and practising the same structures with pictures exposed to the whole group, I displayed the link to 4 videos on the board. They were YouTube videos which are made with GoPros, and ready to be displayed using VR glasses, and they showed beaches in Thailand, safaris in Africa, even a trip to outer space. I would like to compliment David Moura, who is a fellow teacher and not only reminded me of this amazing possibility but also instructed me on how to use the videos and the glasses. Sharing is indeed caring and I thank you for it.

I arranged the students’ chairs into stations, and while one of them would have the VR experience, the others would take notes on the language used and make loads of questions, in order to provide peer feedback later. I was surprised by the fact that technology was not an issue, not even for the 80-year-old lady who participated in one of these classes. She later on commented on how amazed she was, for having this opportunity.

The general feedback was incredibly positive. If we are bringing reality to class more and more, why not use technology in our favour. In the end, students in general complimented each other for the great use of vocabulary in class, and they left the class stating they felt comfortable to use what was learned during the lesson on a daily basis. What else could a teacher ask for, right?

So that was it. My journey, which started 2 years ago while watching a talk with the amazingly talented Raquel Ribeiro, had an amazing milestone, and I couldn’t just keep it to myself. And there you go. For those who think that maybe this technology is too far from our reach, financially speaking, I strongly recommend you to have a look around the virtual markets. You would be surprised with the price range of the VR glasses around. Why not give it a try, and always offer the best experience students can have in our classes?

39-year-old teacher at Cultura Inglesa with experience in working with Young learners, teenagers and adults. A CELTA and ICELT holder, with a passion for Continuous Professional Development. I have presented in important Conferences such as BrazTesol and IATEFL and I am a true believer of education as a means to making the world a better place.

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