VR in the Art Classroom (with Google Cardboard)

I’m really into using tech in my art classroom (in any way! You can read about how I use Plickers in art here) and I based one of my Masters assignments on research around technology, differentiation and self-paced learning. I’m usually tweeting about it too.

If you’re interested in getting to know a bit more about ed-tech and self-paced learning, this Ted Talk by Salman Khan called ‘Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education’ is a good starting place.

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With that in mind I decided to give Google Cardboard a go and delve into the emerging world of VR and virtual reality for education.

I love the idea of virtual reality and it’s seemingly endless possibilities, but honestly, I’ve found the apps and videos specifically for art to be limited. This is still a relatively new area and I am hopeful that new apps and more relevant content will come out sooner rather than later.

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Dreams of Dali 360º Video

The first, and best, 360º video I have found that is great for teaching art is Dreams of Dali. Based on the 1935 painting Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s “Angelus” this virtual tour lets you glide through the painting and soar around the objects within, it’s really great and would add an extra dimension to teaching painting (looking at scale, distortion, exaggeration etc) and increase engagement when looking at Dali’s work as a whole.

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Google Cardboard for Education

A good resource I have found is this Google Cardboard for Education Community – just search for ‘art’ and more relevant content shows up. I have tried a couple of the 360º videos around art galleries etc, but they were not the best quality and not truly interactive. However, you should give things a try just to experience them – some content might be suitable to use within an art class.

Also, you can use the Google Street View app to view art galleries, I went to have a look around the MoMA (!) and loved it. Google Cardboard is enabled in Street View, so you can move around just by tapping the button on the directional arrows and the quality of the pictures is good. This could be used for art virtual reality ‘trips and visits’ – somewhere like Barcelona could be fantastic! How about asking your pupils to find their favourite building or artwork in a gallery they have never visited before?

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Bruegel’s The Fall of the Rebel Angels in VR

Thanks to a little help from Google VR on Twitter I have also explored Bruegel’s famous artwork The Fall of the Rebel Angels in virtual reality. The Google Cultural Institute teamed up with the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium to create this immersive experience.

When explored with Google Cardboard, the viewer is taken on a tour of the painting and flows through the various features which, I think, is a colourful, unusual and really engaging experience! There is a voice over explaining the different elements and their meaning too which is excellent for pupils.

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360 degree videos on YouTube

YouTube has a filter dedicated to 360º video – all viewable with Google Cardboard, I have just had a quick look through and really enjoyed the underwater art gallery! Great idea. I did a simple search for ‘artwork’ and a range of galleries and specific art pieces came up in the results.

Depending on what you want to use VR for in your art class, there are a range of experiential learning activities to use, naturally some are better than others, but I am excited to see what is coming next! I have just read a little about using Sketchup to design 3D drawings then transfer to Google Cardboard, which seems really interesting too…

Do you use VR in your classroom? How? I would be really interested to hear about your experiences, either in the comments here or on Twitter. Do you have any suggestions for using VR in the Art Classroom specifically? I would appreciate any ideas!

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