VR isn’t new technology any longer. It’s going to be ubiquitous.
Exploring destinations in VR is the new and comfortable way of virtual traveling while sitting on the couch. The trend also helps bring the world closer before visiting in real. At the same pace, a new YouTube channel created by a Georgia College professor and graduate student that “brings-to-life tourist locations” across the United States is being on news. The channel allows students of all ages to enjoy field trips—without leaving the classroom.
“The end game is to have sites from all over Georgia. From state parks to museums, we hope to make these sites available to K-12 teachers and students, as well as the general public,” said Dr. Chris Greer, Instructional Technology in Georgia College’s Department of Learning and Innovation.
Dr. Greer’s YouTube channel, Virtual Reality Georgia, is one of the first to highlight locations in Georgia using virtual reality (VR). So far, field trip sites include the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds and Tubman Museum in Macon, Georgia’s Old Governor’s Mansion and Andalusia in Milledgeville, Smithgall State Park in Helen, Pebble Hill Plantation and Lapham-Patterson House in Thomasville, Flint RiverQuarium in Albany, Hardman Farm in Sautee Nacoochee and Dungeness Ruins on Cumberland Island.
The technology in these realistic field trips—created with a 360-degree video camera that allows viewers to see exclusive VR content all around them. It can help teachers engage students to draw better attention on the respective subject. Field trips are only a start, there’s more to inspire. Greer hopes to create new learning opportunities in topics like science and history, using VR.
The no boundaries fun learning concept attracted a graduate assistant Hannah Jones who helped Greer film and edit footage. She was graduated from Georgia College in 2018 with a degree in special education and is pursuing a master’s in instructional technology.
“For the videos, we look for the most engaging spot—whether that means next to animal habitat, a wide angle of a mansion or placed to see as much of the room as possible,” Jones said. “We try to tell every guide to talk to the camera like a group of students in third grade.”
Although the videos can be watched without VR goggles, the experience is much more immersive with them. VR isn’t new technology any longer. Yet, many students in Georgia still lack access to goggles in the classroom. Greer believes that’ll change, as schools continue to search for innovative ways to engage learners.
To get schools using headsets frequently, teachers need content. And that’s where his work comes in. Last fall, Greer presented the project at a conference and was approached by Georgia Public Broadcasting to collaborate. Now the videos Greer and Jones put together will also be featured on GPB’s virtual field trips website.
“This helps us get our content out to a broader audience quickly,” Greer said about the GPB partnership. “They have a common goal— it’s all about access to benefit education in Georgia.”
This isn’t Greer’s first time bringing learning opportunities to students through technology. He also created a digital textbook with Apple on Georgia State Parks and will soon publish a travel book on Georgia. A new grant will help create a space for Greer and his students in the College of Education to use this and other cutting-edge technology.
“I wanted to work with Dr. Greer on Virtual Reality Georgia,” Jones said, “because I knew this was brand new technology and that it could help educators and students around the state. I also wanted to experience a different side of education.”
“Dr. Greer has been a great mentor in my life,” she said. “He has pushed me to explore different opportunities during my degrees, such as taking a graphic design course and a photography course. Working with him on this project has been an absolutely wonderful experience, and I am beyond grateful.”