Every year I’ve been in Middle School I’ve taught presentations. I teach them how to create visually engaging slides, how to tell a story through those slides, and how to weave in their content. I do this in part because I have seen just how bad presentations can get, and I have seen just how important communication can be for creating opportunities.
Every year we do this, and every year more than half of my students do the same thing. Their eyes widen, they shrink in their seats just a bit, and they look flushed. Most Middle School kids hate talking in front of a crowd. I have tried to mitigate this with a variety of strategies, with some success. I often have students come in during lunch and during their honeroom time and present privately. This is ok, but is extremely time consuming. I’ve also done group presentations, but they tend to just be dominated by one person. Finally however, I’ve found something different, something awesome.
I’ve been learning with and experimenting with VR in the classroom for the past several years. This school year I learned about a VR meeting platform called Rumii. (Disclaimer: at the time of writing this I have not received anything free from Rumii or Doghead Simulations. I choose to share this experience because it was incredible for me and my kids.)
I found Rumii through my friends at The VR Podcast. Rumii is a Virtual meeting space where you can have multiple conversations, show images and documents, render 3D models, and so much more. It is a fully immersive experience for sharing our kids’ ideas. I was excited about all it could do but I hadn’t figured out exactly how I would use it within a single class.
As this group of kids started their decent into presentation anxiety it finally hit me. What if I let kids choose to present in Virtual Reality? We could use Oculus Gos and project the presentations to the group. I let my students know this was an option and started planning. About half of my 26 students choose to use Rumii. For most of them it was their first time in a fully immersive virtual environment, so they left slightly overwhelmed, but also desperate for more. Students who chose the VR spoke confidently, they were easy to hear, and they were able to give their presentations with minimal anxiety. These classes actually asked for more presentation projects.
Students shared their vision of technology 10 years in the future. They spoke about the future of everything from video games, to transportation, to schools. They did so by experiencing the type of platform that will enhance their ability to work with others anywhere in the world in their own futures. I was asked to share how I went about this to help others recreate it. After assigning the presentation, I let them know the option to use VR was available and what it would entail. Then I began getting it ready. (I have a very large closet attached to my room where I am working to build an Immersive Technology Lab.)
The process went as follows:
Step 1: I created a free account which allowed me up to 3 users on my team. They have even more available when you upgrade.
Step 2: Download Rumii software from the Oculus store and for your computer at Doghead Simulations.
Step 3: I used the manage team section to invite my two Oculus Go email accounts to the team. Users in the same team can share a Virtual meeting space.
Step 4: I worked with my awesome IT team and the development team at Rumii to make sure the software was able to run through our servers at school. I got support from Amber Osbourne the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, and from Chance Glasco – just look him up- directly (how cool is that) who not only communicated with me via email and twitter, but also called me at school to ensure this went well.
Step 5: Test it out before the kids show up!!!
Step 6: download their presentations as PDF files, then upload them using the pdf viewer in your desired meeting room. I chose a presentation room.
Step 7: Open the PDF files on the Oculus Go headset or device of your choice that will be presenting (you could do this on a computer) and get started!
One big hint for the workflow of this, was to get kids into the headsets really quickly after the previous student so it wouldn’t turn off. Turning off sometimes causes my Oculus mic to stop working. It would work again after quitting and restarting Rumii, but it caused downtime I wanted to avoid.
Not only am I excited to use Rumii going forward for having students share their work, I am now really starting to think of new, incredible ways we can bring meaningful VR integration into our classrooms with Rumii. If you want to learn more go to https://www.dogheadsimulations.com/