Lesson Plan: Virtual Reality Apps

Screen capture of product description page for virtual reality app called The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience

Though the public has expressed interest in the commercial possibilities of Virtual Reality (VR) apps, less attention has been paid to VR’s educational value. This lesson plan allows students to explore what VR has to offer in music, art, and science.

The question here is, of course, how does VR enhance the study of these diverse subjects? By offering a three dimensional perspective, students may reconceptualize music, art, and science as well as brainstorm how technology may transform education.

Learning Objectives

Students will learn about the educational possibilities of VR by engaging one of three apps. The first is oriented toward art, the second toward music, and finally the third toward the sciences. Students working in groups of three to four will share a Google Cardboard for their smartphone. That smartphone must have one of these three apps: Bohemian Rhapsody, InMind VR, and Google Arts & Culture.

The objective is for students to rediscover a subject through VR and envision new and innovative apps to facilitate learning.

  • Students learn how VR allows for a different conceptualization of music/ art/ science
  • Students brainstorm about the future of VR and how more advanced technology may improve the apps
  • Students learn the value of three-dimensional learning
  • Assignment Length

    One class period

  • Required Materials

    One smartphone and one Virtual Reality Viewer per group

  • Skills Necessary

    Download app on smartphone and use Virtual Reality Viewer

Access and Adaptability

Though the lesson plan enumerates the value of three separate apps, instructors need only use one of these apps. Instructors may also select a VR app of their own choosing. Secondly, if instructors do not have a cardboard virtual reality viewer, then students may still use the app, though the three dimensionality will no longer be an active component.

Assignment Description

For the three apps, instructors may approach the assignment slightly differently. After experimenting with their apps, students must create content for their own app and pitch the idea to the class, i.e., venture capitalists looking to invest.

Google Arts and Culture:

In advance of the class, assign students an image that is available in 3-D in the app. The students may have this image in front of them in class to compare to the VR experience. I suggest Chamber of Giants (the image below). In their groups, students will view the full 360 degrees of the interior space. They will then discuss what added value they derived from the VR. They may then discuss what would improve the experience.

Bohemian Rhapsody Experience:

This is a 3-D conceptualization of music. Members of Queen collaborated to create an app that reflected their vision of the innovative Freddy Mercury song. Students may discuss how this experience compares to music videos or other filmic visions of sound. How may they improve on the experience or create their own music app that incorporates VR to enhance the listening experience?

InMind VR:

A Virtual Reality game in which users may enter the brain and search for diseased cells, this app suggests the scientific use of VR. After sharing the experience of shooting down “red” (i.e., diseased) neurons, the group may discuss the direction science VR may take in the future. How does 3-D allow students to gain practical experience?

Instructor Preparation

  • Learn to use the cardboard VR viewer
  • Try all apps in order to walk students through the process
  • Select a piece of art/ museum in advance for students to experience in Google Arts and Culture

Student Preparation

  • The day before this activity, the groups must decide who should download the app
  • Decide which app they wish to explore
  • Students who use Google Arts and Culture must review the work(s) the instructor assigns to properly compare the two dimension piece(s) to the three dimensional

In-Class or Assignment Instructions

  • Students must download the app then insert the smartphone into a cardboard viewer
  • Discuss the experience with peers in the group; explore the possibilities of future VR apps
  • Prepare content for a future educational app
Photo of the domed ceiling of the Palazzo del Te in Italy, painted to tell the Greek legend of the giants' removal from Olympus.

Skills Workshop

First, instructors must download all three apps to experiment with them. Instructors, therefore, should make certain that enough storage space is availbale to download the apps. (For an iPhone: Settings — General — Storage & iCloud Usage.) One student in each group must download one of the three apps.

Instructors and students must also learn how to use the Unofficial Cardboard Virtual Reality Viewer 2.0 Plus. Excellent directions may be found in the first minute and a half of the video below. For a step-by-step instructional, you may also review this worksheet. After setting up the cardboard viewer, you place your phone on the black magnet seen in the final image on the worksheet. To tap the screen while using the cardboard, press the gold button visible in this image.

After using the apps, students will then organize a pitch for their own educational apps by using Infographics. Piktochart is one of the best and most accessible sites for producing infographics. Please find Beck Wise’s excellent tutorial on Piktochart here.

Assessment Suggestions

Instructors should assess how students articulate the VR experience and what VR brings to the appreciation of culture or the advancement of science. After experimenting with the apps, students should create image content for an app they will pitch to the class. During the pitch, students will ask questions about feasibility and practical uses of the group’s app.

Instructors may ask students to write about the VR app as a take-home assignment and/ or present a pitch for their own app in class. If an instructor selects the latter/ both, students may explore virtual reality more deeply. In addition to describing what this technology may add to the classroom, students must collaborate to produce an idea. In doing so, they will face the challenges of innovating educational as well as engaging content and convincing venture capitalists (here, the class) to invest in their idea.

Leave a Comment