AR and VR

I've been going pretty hard with simple VR experiences for about two years now, with varying degrees of success. Google Expeditions is OK, but it's very set in stone (although I am aware that Google is BETA testing make it yourself Expedition experiences, so it could be about to get a whole lot better).

AR is something that I haven't had much of a go yet. I've played with some cool AR painting and measuring apps, and got a sneak peek demo last year at Google Australia about some upcoming things. It all looks very promising, but I'm taking a deliberate step back on it and waiting for the creases to get ironed out.

However, I am super intrigued by Merge Cubes, an AR resource that looks like it has a lot of potential. Read about it here but in a nutshell it's a quasi holographic/AR/VR tool that allows for teachers to create much of the content themselves. I tried purchasing one, but at the time it seemed hard to get one in Aus. So after a quick Tweet out to my PLN, my mate Geoff Derry got back to me quick smart with this link to a DIY Merge Cube and accompanying resources.

Check them out at

3D printing.

It's pretty easy to access already made 3D designs and print some really cool designs. The construction of your own 3D designs is a little bit trickier, but certainly a lot more rewarding because you've made it yourself. Web-based programs like Makers Empire and TinkerCAD are especially great for building 3D projects. To be honest, I'm blown away by the capability these programs have in them: when I was in high school, programs such as these tended to be 1) very expensive and 2) too technical for anyone to use it without HEAPS of instruction first.

The video below is a little introduction to TinkerCAD. I've chosen this as it's free and easy to sign up and create an account with your student Google account. It's a great way to be creative and even start designing REAL solutions to problems in your own life. A great example that I remember from last year was a student in my class designing a small clip that attached to their iPod, with which you could tighten, attach and keep your headphone cord to. This eliminated the headphones getting tangled and was honestly a great little invention. You're only limited by your imagination.

Currently, Year 4 and 5 are looking at designing solutions to architectural issues in regard to limited space in urban dwellings. What could your problem area be?

Screen recording.

Recording the work you do on a device or computer is a great way to show off your skills, especially if you're doing things outside of school hours. Most computers have built-in programs that can record the activity on a screen, as well as audio annotations and even a webcam. Because I use a Mac most of the time, I find Quicktime really useful for this (it's pretty much how I record all of my 'how-to' videos for you guys).

Screencastify is a Google Extension that does a pretty great job of screen recording for you. The free version, called Screencastify Lite, has an awesome amount of potential for a free product, including:

  • Direct save function to your Google Drive, meaning you'll have access to the video all of the time
  • Plays in web browser AND can be uploaded to YouTube
  • Ability to add webcam videoAND screen video
  • Easy share capability

Below is a link to a short video that I have made, explaining how to use the simple features of the extension. Have a watch then have a go.

Want to make your own VR experience?

Ok, so it’s not a completely ‘true’ VR experience, but given how easy and effective it is, it’s pretty cool. I will be demonstrating this using Mac OS software, but I’m sure it could be tweaked to use other programs on a PC or perhaps even on a Chromebook.

You could use this to

- create virtual tours of important buildings in your town or when overseas on a holiday

- display your story in a 360 world - students choose the location and read your story

- share your understanding of a thing you're passionate about

1. Using Google Streetview, create a ‘photosphere’ (360 image) and download it.

The first thing you want to do is find and download a 360 degree image. To do this I used Street View Panorama downloader for MacOS. This nifty little program allows you to download Google Streetview panoramas.

Note: you can use this site to extract images from Google maps to turn into VR experiences.

Searching on Streetview downloader isn't great (nor very accurate), so I find it better to find the location on Google Maps and then load the panorama into the downloader.

To download the panorama you copy the Panorama ID into the downloader program, select the download location and name and hitting the download button.

Make sure you label the panorama as from Google Street View and give the correct image credit.

2. Import the image into iMovie (or movie editing software of your choice)

Once the panorama is in iMovie make sure you change the cropping to fit, so that it doesn't cut off any of the 360 image.

You can then add titles and a voice over, you can even have multiple panoramas so that it acts more like a tour.

Adding the voice over is the big win for me: I want students describing features in the panorama or explaining what is happening while someone watches the 360 video. Students can also create virtual tours with themselves as the guides. Background music and/or sounds can be added throughout.

We then export the movie, making sure to keep the aspect ratio in tact, so that when youtube detects it as a 360 video everything is there.

3. Add 360 video metadata to your video

To ensure your video is turned into a 360 video on youtube, I find it is best to follow these instructions to add the 360 metadata (video information) to your video.

You download a small piece of software (spacial media metadata injector) which adds the information to your video

It is a simple as opening the video and pressing the inject metadata button. (it is also very quick)

Once you have the video with the injected metadata, you can .....

4 Upload it to Youtube

Once you upload the video, Youtube should detect it as a 360 video. It can now be viewed like any other 360 video on a computer, tablet or with Google cardboard.

*This 'how to' has kindly been reproduced with permission courtesy of Mr Geoff Derry from Follow Geoff @gderry