Maybe once a vague concept, the EdTech world has been buzzing with VR and AR in recent years. With the release of Google’s Expeditions app, educators are able to see firsthand how the platform of VR (and using it to immerse students in places they had never visited) is unlike any medium they’ve ever used with students before. Creative director, artist and entrepreneur Chris Milk, most widely known in tech circles as a virtual reality pioneer, spoke in his 2016 TED Talk about virtual reality as an art form and “the last medium.”

The new Wilson College course, “Virtual and Augmented Reality Technologies in the Classroom,” developed in partnership with Eduspire, examines the emerging technologies of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) and their use in the K-12 classroom. Course instructor, Kevin McGuire, was inspired by Chris Milk’s TED Talk and did some exploring of his own, which led to the design of this course. McGuire’s school district purchased a 360 camera (which will be provided at no extra charge to each participant in the Wilson College course!), which McGuire used to take 360 images in search of a way to tell a story with the device.

What he discovered was that students could take pictures and then, using Google’s Tour Builder platform, create their own experiences. McGuire’s class visited the Flight 93 National Memorial (located about an hour and a half from his school) and took along the 360 camera. During their visit, they captured 360 photographs and researched the events of September 11, 2001. The class then built a VR tour using the content. They submitted their tour to Google and it was published! You can view it here:

Student creation of VR experiences will be a big part of the new online course, available for the first time in spring of 2019, as will teachers creating content in order to enhance their existing curriculum. Participants will learn the history of this medium and methods for infusing VR and AR into their instruction to enhance student engagement. Various applications will be covered included Google Expeditions, Discovery VR, and YouVisit. Participants will also learn how to prepare their students to author their own VR experiences using a 360 degree camera.

More on the topic: What the Research Says About VR in Classrooms, via Common Sense Media