Virtual reality is one of the latest tools to hit education, and educators across the country are excited to engage students with dynamic, immersive visuals and virtual field trips. But getting started can be overwhelming, especially with different platforms and devices on the market.

During a virtual reality session at TCEA 2017, three educators shared their experience using Google Expeditions with students.

To get started, educators need a teacher tablet; virtual reality viewers; student devices; and a peer-to-peer enabled wi-fi network, hotspot, or closed network, said Julie Brem, a librarian at Colleyville Heritage High School in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. Most students at the secondary level will have their own devices, and those who don’t can share or borrow school-owned devices. Larger device sets will likely be needed at the elementary level.

Students were exceptionally engaged in the experiences, turning around to get 360-degree views of their surroundings and reaching out to try and grab objects. During one unit around Christmas, students came to school in pajamas and took a virtual trip on the Polar Express, Brem said.

Cooperation between different departments is important, too.

The educators would not have been able to coordinate without collaboration between instructional technology, librarians, and technology services,” said Janie Stach, a K-12 instructional technology coordinator in the district, and Kara Johnson, an elementary librarian in the district.

(Next page: Virtual reality resources for educators; how 3 teachers use the technology in their classrooms)