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Are you looking to invest in VR for your school? Wondering what resources are available? Look no further… this article explains five of the best free VR apps for education.

VR is becoming extremely popular in education because of its power to capture students’ imaginations and create that awe and wonder moment. Due to its popularity, there are a number of free VR apps that can be used in schools and this is only going to continue to increase! The most well known app, Google Expeditions, has received a vast amount of publicity due to its Pioneer Programme in the US and UK. The app allows teachers to take their class on virtual field trips, where they can see 360° panoramic images from around the world. There is now a huge collection of expeditions (currently over 600), from penguins in Antarctica to the Colosseum in Rome, the opportunities are endless. The ‘teacher device’, which can either be a tablet or smartphone, includes relevant content and points of interest, which you can use to focus your students’ attention. Google Expeditions is an amazing app and is a great resource for the classroom, but what else is available?

Titans of Space

Titans of Space is a really cool app and is an excellent resource for teaching about the solar system. You take on the role of an astronaut who is exploring space and visiting different planets and asteroids. It’s a great resource for putting the planets into perspective and really shows the size of the sun in comparison to the planets in our solar system. This would be a great tool for independent learning, where students could explore each of the planets and take note of some of the key facts. Once they have finished the tour, which roughly takes 15-20 minutes (although this will be longer if students are required to take notes), you can come back as a group and share what you found out.

At present, the app can only be downloaded on android devices. You’ll also need to have a good amount of space available on your device, as this is a 345MB download.

Sites in VR

Sites in VR is similar to Google Expeditions in the fact that it contains a huge collection of 360° panoramic images from around the world. You can visit tombs, mosques, palaces, castles, ancient ruins and towers from all over the world. The app even allows you to filter images according to country or city. The drawback of using this app in an educational setting is that a teacher cannot control what the student looks at. Like Google Expeditions, you can view images without being connected to Wi-Fi; however, you will need to download these prior to using them.

The app is available on both iOS and Android devices. The app is also a much more manageable size in comparison with Titans of Space and only requires 50MB of space.

Apollo 15 VR

Apollo 15 VR allows you to experience what it would have been like to be a part of the Apollo 15 moon landing. Once students have landed on the moon, they will take part in setting up the famous Lunar Rover Vehicle. Once complete, they have the opportunity to drive the vehicle on the moon, turning their headset according to which direction they want to go in. I would say the app has less educational benefits than Titans of Space and Sites VR but it could be a good exercise for encouraging creative writing or to simply open students’ minds to the landscape on the moon. I would recommend having the sound turned on during the experience, so it might be worth using headphones if you have more than one student using it.

The app only appears to be available on the play store and so you won’t be able to download it using an iPhone. The app is a similar download size to Sites VR at just over 50MB.

Discovery VR

Discovery VR contains a series of 360° videos from around the world. The Discovery channel have been telling and showing awe inspiring stories for over 30 years and now, with the use of VR, they have made it more immersive than ever.  For example, learn about protecting pandas in China, take a helicopter tour around Mount Everest, and get up close and personal with grizzly bears. All of the videos included in the app come with commentary, so it might be useful to provide students with headphones. There are new videos being uploaded all the time, so there is plenty of choice to choose from in relation to the curriculum. One of the downsides with this app is that you need to be connected to Wi-Fi in order to watch the video and so this might cause some issues for schools.

The app is available on both iOS and android devices. The download size is 51MB.

Molecule VR

Molecule VR is a visually impressive app that makes you feel immersed into the world of cells. Molecule VR gives students a guided tour of different cell structures and provides a running commentary along the way. Again, I would recommend students wearing headphones during this experience so that they can listen to the commentary. The content is more suitable for high school/sixth form but primary school students will still enjoy the feeling of immersion. This is a great app for Biology teachers and gives students a different experience rather than just simply staring at a textbook.

The app is available on both android and iOS devices and is a fairly large size at 180MB.

Summary

This is by no means an exhaustive list but hopefully it gives you a flavour of what’s out there. Some other cool apps to check out are Public Speaking VR, Language VR and Anatomyou. From an educational standpoint, Google Expeditions is my favourite but Titans of Space is a great way to introduce your students to the solar system (although the app does require a lot of download space).

If you are interested in VR, follow us on Twitter (@primevruk) for further tips and ideas for incorporating VR into your school. We also provide free resources such as lesson plans for Google Expeditions that can be downloaded here.

If you have any questions about VR, contact us on info@primevr.co.uk.