County BOE learns about new virtual technology

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 22, 2019

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Back in the land before time, View-Masters were these clunky binocular-like goggles. It had a thin cardboard disk with about seven images to click through. Back then, youngins would watch these images come to life with the toy’s most archaic feature– imagination.

Today, View-Masters have been transformed into the View-Master Virtual Reality Viewers, and it’s coming to schools near you, Federal Programs Supervisor Sarah Watkins said during Escambia County’s Board of Education meeting on Thursday.

View-Master paired up with Google to create their own line of VR headsets. The way the technology works is there is a smartphone placed just behind the eye lenses and held in place within the headset. The smartphone then generates the virtual world and transfers your head movement into it.

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Watkins took the Board of Education members and meeting attendees on what she calls a “virtual reality field trip” through the Google Expedition app. The educational app creates an immersive learning experience where students are able to be transported virtually all over the world and even space. The app also allows teachers to guide the students on their virtual field trip through a tablet.

Watkins connected all of the dispersed VR headsets to her tablet and took the room filled with people to outer space. The participants could see the stars and planets beneath them and all around them. Watkins showed that teachers will be able to point out the planets with an arrow within the VR. Watkins showed several examples of VR field trips such as a bird’s eye view of the Taj Mahl, underneath the Galapagos Island waters and even inside of a cell.

Watkins said teachers will be able to check-out these VR headsets for VR field trips beginning of next school year.