Geography Education in VR

1. Overview

Virtual reality (VR) is also ideal for teaching geography in a fun and interactive way, real world travel for students is often expensive, time consuming and impractical, and learning from videos and textbooks just isn’t as immersive as virtual reality. VR allows students to learn geography as they explore all with the simplicity, comfort and convenience of the classroom. The VR industry is constantly inventing new ways to help people explore and love learning about geography.

2. Google Earth VR

Many teachers around the world use and love Google Earth. Google Earth in VR truly brings the experience to the next level. Anyone strapped into a VR headset can zoom over the earth and explore 3D structures and topography.

Students studying biomes can easily fly to that area of the earth and gain a deeper understanding of their appearance, scope, and scale. The same is true for students studying important historical sites or geographical areas. A more meaningful connection can be made with current events, as students can virtually travel to places they’re hearing about in the news and have a look.

Experience in development:

Flying around isn’t an amazing experience for everyone. Students who are unfamiliar with VR might find it very hard to effectively use the interface, navigate and get their bearings. I know that when I tried it for the first time, I found it had a steep learning curve so care should be taken by the teacher to prepare the students for this potential confusion. It may help some students to sit down while using Google Earth VR because it can be very disorientating. Not all 3D objects are created by hand, so when examining a building, tree, or car closely, it may look blocky and blurry. Often, it’s possible to enter Street View, where you get a crisp 360-degree view of specific areas, however it is clear that this project is a work in progress.

While a student or teacher is using Google Earth VR, what they’re seeing can be mirrored on the computer monitor or projector. It obviously isn’t the same experience as having a headset on, but this at least makes it possible for more than one student to learn at a time. If virtual field trips are a goal, educators might also want to consider Google Expeditions, which features more robust teaching tools and the ability for an entire class to experience learning at the same time.

Music and Sound:

As far as I can tell there is no sound, its not a game of any kind, its a geography exploration tool, just a VR version of the Google Earth accessible from the browser. Some voiceover explanations, particularly explaining how to use the interface effectively would be a welcome addition.

What others are saying:

Google Earth VR, which is available on PC VR, is a breath-taking way to explore our fascinating planet.

-Road To VR

Final Thoughts:

It is obvious that a lot of effort has been put into making this a unique, interesting and educational experience; you should really give it a chance and see how you can use it to explore some of your favourite locations on the Earth.

3. Go Guess VR

Go Guess is an interactive virtual reality experience that teleports you to different locations around the world and asks you to guess where you are. You can give it a try on your own or with your friends and see how your knowledge of the world and its geography fares compared to others

About the experience and its educational values:

Go Guess is like the VR version of the much-loved game and website GeoGuessr. You and up to 3 friends are dropped into a 360 photo and you have to guess where in the world you are. The more you move about within the Google maps the fewer points you score. This is indeed is a great game to play, and its ideal as a light-hearted party game app that is free and fun for a family to play as they get accustomed to exploring the various ways there are to experience virtual reality. Some of the photos are somewhat low quality, but there are so many locations to play, this game offers infinite playtime.

You can play against other people, and you can chat in a social VR space between rounds.

Like its 2D forebears such as GeoGuesser, Go Guess tasks you with investigating the street view captures by hunting for clues. You might be out in the wilderness looking at plants, or on a sunny beach hunting for a sign, anything that will help you distinguish the location such as Japan from the Californian coast.

Giving you a number of nodes to teleport to, you can investigate the scene as much as you like. Rounds take place periodically, although avatars are named randomly currently, so it may be difficult to find and make friends in between matches, which is represented as a 3D render of Times Square in New York City.

Once you’ve found out where you are in the linked-together captures (or where you think you are), you can pull up a globe, mark the map and do some fine-tuning until you’re happy with the location. The closer your guess is to the actual location, the higher the points.

Google opened up its treasure trove of 360 Street View captures to developers late last year, although there was a provision for developing apps and games with the data: it had to be free.

Music and Sound:

I don’t believe there is any sound, an explanatory voice over would be a welcome addition in a future version, to make it more beginner friendly.

What others are saying:

Go Guess is an interactive virtual reality experience that teleports you to different locations around the world and asks you to guess where you are. Give it a try on your own or with your friends and see how your knowledge of the world and its geography fares compared to others!


Final thoughts:

It is a lot more fun than you might think at first and is an engaging and potentially competitive new way to learn and explore geography, another free app that is definitely worth a look.