//How to Create a VR App for Education

How to Create a VR App for Education

Topics Covered
1. Why is VR so Popular at Schools?
2. How Should it Be Used at Each Academic Level?
3. What is the Basic Process for Creating a VR App for Educational Purposes?
4. Special Considerations Unique to VR for Education Apps
5. Client Examples

Sign up for a Free InstaVR account today and create an iOS or Android app in minutes. Upgrade to Pro if you need to create a larger app, remove the watermark, submit to iTunes/Google Play, or embed on Web Sites. For classroom level purchases of 10+ accounts, upgrade to Academic Licensing and get a significant discount on pricing.

1. Why is VR so Popular at Schools? 

Virtual Reality is incredibly popular in the classroom. Be it middle school or high school, undergraduate or graduate, teacher or administration — there’s a use for VR at almost all levels of education. At a time when technology has revolutionized learning, what is it about VR that makes it such a good fit for classrooms?

Based on hundreds of InstaVR users in the educational space, we’ve identified the following five major factors that have driven VR adoption:

It’s Immersive – Learning is easiest when it is completely immersive. Unfortunately, schools don’t have unlimited time and funds to do field trips every day. VR brings learning to the classroom. You can virtually tour a historical location, or virtually learn how a person does their job, or virtually experience a scientific experiment.

It’s Interactive & Memorable – Beyond just providing visually interesting 360 images and videos, VR apps created with InstaVR allow you to interact with them via Navigation Links and Hotspot Overlays. Navigation Links make each VR experience a potential “Choose Your Own Adventure.” Hotspot Overlays allow app creators to overlay their 360 media with additional information, such as images, videos, audio narration or text. All of this adds up to a much more memorable experience than you’d get with a standard 2D image or video.

It Can Be Easily Generated by Both Teachers & Students – Because InstaVR is completely drag-and-drop, with no coding required, students and teachers alike can make their own VR apps without a huge investment of time. The only equipment required are: a 360 camera, an internet connection, an InstaVR account, and a mobile device to view the finished VR. Even VR headsets, so widely covered by the media, are completely optional for use with InstaVR created applications.

It Can Be Shared – One of the benefits of our internet and mobile driven world is the ability to share your content easily. This allows for group learning, instant feedback, and a greater sense of accomplishment than if projects were done in a vacuum. With InstaVR, you can share your project with anyone who has an iOS or Android phone. At our Pro or Academic Licensing level, the addressable audience expands to anyone with an internet connection.

It Engages the Right Side of the Brain – As mentioned, InstaVR is completely drag-and-drop. So while you don’t need coding skills to create a great VR app, you do need a lot of creativity. You have to create a narrative, skillfully place the Navigation Links, add creative/informational Hotspots, and basically do the same thing directors do for movies. Each VR app author is their own mini-Steven Spielberg.

Classrooms across the globe are embracing 360 media as a unique way to create memorable, education VR experiences. The above screenshot is from a VR classroom tour put together by a coding school in Romania.

2. How Should it Be Used at Each Academic Level?

The use cases for VR vary by age level, as well as by who the creator is (student, teacher, or administration). Because there is such a wide array of virtual reality in the educational space, it’s hard to pin down exactly how you should be using VR. But we’ve tried to compartmentalize by age group some logical uses for the technology:

Middle School – Unlike the other age groups we’ll discuss, Middle School students face severe geographic limitations. They can’t drive. For teachers, that’s a great reason to bring VR into the classroom. One teacher we met at the Future of Education Technology Conference in January talked about how he creates VR tours of historical landmarks in Florida that he shares with students. For students though, they can still author apps about their school, their family, or their local community.

High School – At the high school level, students can create VR apps specifically for different classes. Be it Art or Journalism or Public Speaking or Government/History or STEM — there’s a bunch of creative ways to incorporate VR into classroom assignments. And since most high school students have phones, it’s easy for that VR to be shared.

College – At the college level, we start to see a lot wider use of InstaVR. We have admissions and alumni relations using our platform to encourage student visits and donations. We have athletic departments promoting their teams. We have professors creating computer-generated tours of ancient ruins, VR trips to the cosmos, and virtual field trips for students. We have students creating apps of historical architecture and showcasing art projects. At the college level, the possibilities are really endless.

Graduate School – Like with college students, we get some very specific and impressive use cases among our graduate school user base. For example, one user utilizes our Heat Map data, exported to CSV file, to numerically analyze the effect of VR on viewer attention, which allows him to determine the effectiveness of 360 video. Another user, in a pre-professional training capacity, helps therapists get their first taste of client interaction through virtual reality.

Students at German University in Cairo’s Hyper Reality Course used InstaVR to create a great immersive tour of the architecture of Historical Cairo.

3. What is the Basic Process for Creating a VR App for Educational Purposes?

Creating a VR app for Education is basically the same as for any other mobile app. It’s as simple as upload, author, publish, and distribute.

Below is a quick overview of the process, focused specifically on education:

  • Capture 360 images or video for upload to InstaVR. For most educational users, this step will take them the most time. There are many different cameras you can purchase specifically for this step. It’s important to think about the narrative flow of your app during the capture process though. How will your users go from one scene to another easily and intuitively? Just like with regular film, it’s better to capture too much and edit down, then capture too little and have to go back and re-film.
  • Author using Navigation Links & Hotspots. Navigation links are pretty intuitive. For videos, InstaVR gives you the option to loop a 360 video, stop a video, or navigate to another video. From an educational standpoint, Hotspots provide a lot of value. It’s where you can overlay text, or play a video/image, or do audio narration to augment your 360 media with additional information. Don’t underestimate the value of Hotspots!
  • Brand your app. For many educational users, this will be the first mobile app they’ve created. We make the process very simple — you add a icon for the phone screen and a home screen. At the Pro/Educational level, you can also add a customized splash image or video.
  • Publish. This step is very important. You want to get your VR into the right hands — be it fellow students, your teacher, or the world at large, through iTunes and Google Play. Distribution for Android is very simple. You can upload the resulting APK file to Google Drive or Dropbox, and email the link out to those who have Android phones. For iOS, you can invite select users via email to download your app from the InstaVR site. Alternately, you can create a dummy email/password and distribute that for people to use on the InstaVR site to download the app. For Educational Licensing users, the web embed feature is also extremely valuable, as you can incorporate it into your class pages, to show off the work of your students.

Creating a VR app is simple and can be done in minutes using the InstaVR platform. The only limitation is your imagination!

4. Special Considerations Unique to VR for Education Apps

The breadth of educational VR apps made using the InstaVR platform is very wide. But we’ll try to cover some nuances that tend to pop up most often for users in an academic setting.

There is great educational opportunity in the Hotspots you can overlay on the 360 media in InstaVR. You can initiate voiceover to start when a user looks at a certain object, or have a video start to play, or include a close-up photo. You’ll need to capture this additional media though through a normal camera or audio recorder. So while you’re capturing your 360 images or videos, also think about what education value you can provide via Hotspots.

Videos are obviously a preferred method of communication among students (ie SnapChat). So it’s likely they prefer capturing 360 video over images. One major consideration when capturing video is Narrative Flow. After a video plays, what happens next? Since the viewer is passively watching the video, except when interacting with Hotspots, you’ll want to carefully consider what you’d like to subsequently happen after the video is completed.

There is a good chance that your classroom will not have VR headsets for all students. Even if you do, the students will likely want to share their project with others outside of the classroom. By utilizing the InstaVR default home screen, students’ VR apps can be used and accessed without a headset. Mobile Phone and iPad owners can still utilize the gyroscope on their devices — or finger swipe — to navigate and interact with Hotspots. 

VR app distribution is always a source of concern with first-time VR authors. With InstaVR, we simplify the process. Here are the best ways for each of the major app types. 1. Android (In-House) – You can either upload your APK file to Google Drive/Dropbox and email the link out OR create a QR code that others can scan with their phone. 2. iOS (In-House) – Users will have to be invited by an email link to come to the InstaVR web site to download to their phone. However, one easy way around this is to create a dummy email account (ie “schoolname@gmail.com”) and password. After inviting that generic address, you can distribute the download link and credentials. 3. iTunes/Google Play (Pro and Academic Licensing Users Only) – If your school has a Developer account on either platform, by all means publish your VR to them! It’s the easiest way to distribute. 4. Web Embed (Pro and Academic Licensing) – The easiest way to show off your 360 media is to publish to Web. We’ll provide you the codes to place on your class or personal web page. 

5. Client Examples

Camp Future Association – This coding school in Romania wanted to create their first VR app. So using our Free solution, they created a school tour. Please also note the smart use of Hotspots by the students and educators.

Can you can download their app directly to your Android phone at this link: https://t.co/3yEl34uLQH

West Virginia University – When you’re a successful NCAA football team, you have a lot of great media you can include in a VR app. This engaging multimedia experience created for WVU definitely gets you excited for the football season!

Download for Android devices here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tsbiinc.wvu360&hl=en

VR Angkor Wat Lite – Virtual field trips are a very popular educational use case for InstaVR clients. We’ve had a lot of good ones, and this one transporting you to Angkor Wat is one of my favorties. Students don’t have to travel far though — they can great a VR tour of behind-the-scenes at a local business or a day-in-the-life of their parents.

Google Play link – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.virtualtraveler.angkorwatlite&hl=en

iTunes link – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/virtual-traveler-vr-angkor-wat-lite/id1202086406?mt=8

7. Conclusion

VR presents a great opportunity to bring technology in the classroom for more engaging learning. Students can make and distribute their own 360 apps, giving them a sense of accomplishment and allowing them to share their creative endeavors with others. Educators can sign up for a Free account, and then upgrade to Pro or Academic Licensing if they want to create a more formalized curriculum using InstaVR. It’s simple, fast, and fun!

Live Recording:
Make a VR app with InstaVR in 1 minute
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2017-04-22T02:42:27+00:00 April 22nd, 2017|General|