Grade 5 students wove the theme of collaboration throughout the first elementary assembly of the 2014-15 school year and one of the highlights was a demonstration of collaboration through the use of Minecraft. Although Minecraft was developed as a ‘sandbox’ or open world game format, it has been embraced by teachers and students at SIS and around the world as an educational learning tool where students can develop and use content skills in addition to our SIS ESLRs such as collaboration and complex thinking . At the recent assembly, grade 5 teacher Kurt Callahan shared his video showing five grade 5 students collaboratively constructing a house using Minecraft in less than 4 minutes.
For more about Minecraft…
Minecraft in Education Resources
Educational Benefits of Minecraft
Ideas for Using Minecraft in the Classroom (Edutopia)
The Oculus Rift is amazing. There’s no doubt about it. Literally every person I’ve seen don the headset drops a, ‘Woah!’ immediately. It’s unlike anything you’ve experienced and it’s going to have a profound impact on the ways in which we interact and learn through technology.
You encounter a problem though, when trying to explain exactly what the Oculus Rift does. To invoke Morpheus, “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Oculus Rift is. You have to see it for yourself”. Unless you’ve actually put on the headset, preferably with earphones, it’s difficult to comprehend the level of immersion and realness you feel. So for the uninitiated, it’s Virtual Reality done right. Wear the Oculus Rift and you’re transported to another place; the moon, the back of a dragon, or in the Giza Necropolis; wherever. If it can be simulated in a computer, you can experience it. Needles to say, gamers are excited.
And while the impact on gaming is clear it’s interesting to see that there are already strong learning applications emerging. Apps like ‘Titans of Space let you tour the solar system and provide a profound sense of the scale of the universe. Ocean Rift places you alongside sharks and whales as you glide along the sea floor. VR Cinema gives you an entire 200 seat theatre to yourself while Street View takes advantage of Google Maps letting you tour the world. And we haven’t touched on the innovations to storytelling and film. You can even spend a moment as the star of one of Japan’s most successful films, Spirited Away. Soon there will be movies where YOU play the lead role.
It’s not all beer and skittles though. Some games make you sick. You literally need to develop ‘VR legs’ for these. I was heavily nauseated after 30 minutes of Half-Life 2. Apparently, the new Oculus Rift dubbed Crystal Cove, alleviates some of this this with a HD display, reduced latency and motion tracking. I’m hoping to get sick playing GTA4 soon but I can’t get it working yet. That’s the other bit, you’ll need to be prepared to troubleshoot and explore (which you’ll probably enjoy anyway).
What’s most exciting though are the implications for inclusive settings. People with physical or mental disabilities will have access to learning experiences and scenarios that were previously difficult to establish. Learning will become more accessible to all.
So, if you’ve got the budget (around 300 bucks plus a hefty PC or Mac) get your hands on an Oculus Rift. It’s going to influence the way we interact with technology (check out the minority report style computer in The Cave) and become an integral part of any blended learning environment. It won’t be too long before it has the form factor of Google Glass. That will certainly make things interesting.
Follow @Oculus for more information