VR is still disruptive for schools, but visitors to the BETT 2017 technology show will find an answer
Virtual reality technology is being targeted at classrooms as a way to enrich learning experience with walk-throughs of all kinds of scenarios. Even Google is flexing its marketing muscle with a free app and low-cost cardboard goggles (that require individual mobile phones) for its VR Google Expeditions.
But who in a school is going to manage it? Busy teachers? School edtech supplier Avantis is launching networked class sets of ClassVR headsets at the BETT 2017 educational technology to take the hassle out of this emerging technology
Digital penny has dropped — easy use and management
The digital penny dropped in education some time ago — as everyone now knows, technology can't be successful in classrooms unless it can be used and managed with relative ease. And it's clear that only the most 'techie' teachers will be prepared to put mobile phones into individual carboard headsets, load up apps and then trouble shoot them. Besides, whose phones? Which platform? Whose content?
This is where innovative edtech company Avantis comes in. Well known for its innovative networked LearnPads tablets, Avantis has stirred up interest with recent innovations that will be featured at BETT 2017and more recently low-cost screens, tablet charging trolleys and now £200 Window hybrids (WorkBooks) and a Window 10 'light' version of the popular Chromebooks called ClassBook.
Avantis describes ClassVR as “an all-in-one VR solution” for schools. What that means is that a class set is controlled by the company's tried and tested wireless management system, ClassConnect, and can be charged by its own, dedicated charging and storage unit.
The set can just sit in the corner of the classroom like a set of the company’s LearnPad Android tablets, ready to be brought out when required. If a school is already familiar with LearnPads and ClassConnect there is relatively little to learn as far as classroom management is concerned.
The software allows a school to control everything that is sent to the headsets via wireless by means of a simple web browser page in ClassConnect. From 360-degree images and walk-throughs to Google Expeditions (it is currently in talks with Google) and even lesson plans. The company says it has thousands of suitable images for schools to explore, organised for the curriculum, and it hopes to be showing Google Expeditions at the BETT launch.
Schools need stability and confidence with VR
It says that VR is now at the stage where tablets were before schools were helped to manage them for curriculum use. That's why Avantis has invested in management and charging technology to give schools the stability and confidence they require.
The other obstacle for schools has been prices. Although Avantis has not finalised prices, it is thought that installation of a class set of eight ClassVRs (thought to be the optimum number for school sets) along with the management software, charging station and CPD (continuing professional development) will cost from around £2,000. Avantis is launching the technology at BETT and working with pilot schools.
Nik Tuson (pictured left), chief executive of Avantis says, “We’re incredibly excited to launch such a ground-breaking solution. As with all our innovations, ClassVR is taking this immersive technology and making it relevant and impactful in the classroom. What better way to engage children than offer them activities and lessons that they could only dream of experiencing.”
“The pre-launch interest from our schools has been extraordinary and we can’t wait to see the impact ClassVR will have on engagement and knowledge retention in class.”
The ClassVR systems and Avantis' other innovations can be seen on the company's stand at BETT 2017 — Stand C100