EDET 679: Essential Question: How can immersive virtual reality enhance gamification?

Aleta May

Reflection for Gamification and Open Education Week 4, with Dr. Graham


I understand more about how broad Virtual Reality (VR) is now. For example, I can use computers for students to explore different places simply by having them use the keyboard mouse to look around in a virtual environment. I would really like for our students to use Google Cardboard in the classroom, however we have two major roadblocks. First, our school will not allow student access on their personal devices, because this would require a password. The password is then shared and people in other villages use our school district access. Second, if students use their own phones, their families have very limited data allowed to them per month because of the cost. This would mean that they would have to use my phone in a VR head band to get the full effect.

Embedding computer tours onto a website students are given access to is a great way to use VR in our school; and the teacher can project these onto the interactive whiteboard.

I believe that having students use actual headsets for VR is a much more immersive experience for them than just having them view 3D VR tours on computers. However, if phone use is not an option, or headsets are not available, it is still a great tool for students to access in a gamified classroom. The more immersed students are in an activity, the more they are able to ignore distractions around them in the room. This puts them into the flow of learning, where they may experience more fully “going to a place” they had not been to before.

After reading several posts, I learned about other websites and explored some of these. As I watched Kate’s YouTube video, I visited two sites she referred to and bookmarked them incase I need to assist students in similar activities or to share with content area teachers. I took notes from the rich gamified environment ideas she was so willing to share with us.

Replies to Class Peers for Week 4

Replies to class peers for week 4:


Ethics—I agree that sharing devices is usually acceptable. Sometimes parents may take issue with this as far as who will pay for the smart phone if it is broken by another student during a shared activity. Another ethical consideration is that the google cardboard or even other more, well structured 3D VR Boxes could hide from a teacher what is being viewed by students, especially in a larger classroom. This is a problem to be considered, but does not mean it eliminates the use of this tool for teaching.

Pedagogy—When we make direct connections to our curriculum (and the standards the curriculum represents), we have a lot of freedom to teach creatively.

Creating an immersive community—keeping students focused on an Earth Science topic like the fieldtrip through the Rockies seems like such a fun way to engage students and would create discussion of what they saw/noticed. There may be categories for students to write about in a group about what they saw related to layers in mountain areas, etc. and then shared out with other groups who focused on another aspect of what they noticed in the same fieldtrip.


A very significant point you made was when you noted that the VR tool may be exactly what students need in order to visualize a place they had never visited. There are many students, including people who do not travel much and live in the country or in a village, who have a perfect view of where they live and interact on a daily basis. But what about understanding what a book is talking about when a desert is discussed if a student has never lived in or seen a desert.

Thank you for this information and these links below!!

There are games which try to simulate the journey of these explorers (Go West Across America with Lewis and Clark – http://www.nationalgeographic.com/west/), but how much more powerful would it be for a class to put on a set of Google Cardboards (https://vr.google.com/cardboard/get-cardboard/) and float down a raging river or walk across the endless prairie?

Even higher quality VR boxes are inexpensive! This is an awesome breakthrough for educators to begin using a tool that engages students by connecting them to the environment they are learning about; all without needing a fortune to do so.


It is interesting how our brains have trouble sorting out reality from a virtual world. Related to this idea is that the player feels powerful, even though the sword fighting (for example) skill is only possessed by the player’s avatar (game character); while the player is gaining levels on a virtual skill that helps keep the player motivated. According to Schell (2015), when designing a game, “Often, the key to a fun game is finding the right mix of real and virtual skill” (p. 182). For our purposes, we would keep this design principle in mind when we enhance learning platforms on a wikispace.

Going to a virtual zoo sounds fun to me right now.

Thank you for telling me about math game software systems Blender and Unity to create their own worlds using math. Virtual Reality: Mathematics. (2014) STEM Career Lab. [Video files]. Retrieved from http://stemcareerlab.org/ I want to look into this. I found a 6’ video on VR: Mathematics (Blender). Going into another dimension to view 3D shapes to find not only x and y axis, but also the z axis.

They also visually showed that a Parabola—can be X2=Y The use of math in a 3D environment would have helped me to understand shapes and axis, and more, a long time ago!


Schell, J. (2015). The art of game design: A book of lenses, second ed. CRC Press: New York: Taylor & Francis Group.


What a great insight—we do need engineers that will develop quality VR experiences. The more the better. I was surprised to read that just 37% of 13-17 year olds have smartphone access.. Where we live in the village, the amount of data students are aloud to use on a family plan has a financial impact. I just asked students who were early to school this morning why most of them were using their phones. First, it was because their access through the school was blocked unless it was a school device. Second, it was home data limits. I do recall the issue we had with GCI saying people in other villages were using our school internet from afar—so access passwords were no longer shared.


McGonigal talks about visual attention in her book (referenced below)As I read what you wrote about being immersed in a virtual environment, players block out outside distractions. What McGonigal explained was that the visual processing part of our brain is taking over more when a game has continuous visual elements to process. “. . . ideally, a pattern-matching game like Tetris or Candy Crush Saga” (p. 37), because pieces are interactively moved and connected – taking a lot of focus.

When you brought up that sense of presence and a feeling of being there, students are playing in the flow; and the quality of the game (not necessarily the difficulty of the game) comes from being absorbed with our full attention focused .

This immersion may be something we need to think about for our students who deal with the effects of trauma in their lives. One trial study McGonigal highlighted was one where “a twenty-minute session of casual game play decreased left frontal alpha brain waves which typically indicates improved mood.

I agree that elementary students would benefit from different types of VR related to the curriculum. Google Cardboard activities can take them to places talked about in children’s literature.


McGonigal, J. (2015). SuperBetter: The power of living gamefully. New York: Penguin Books.


When students use virtual reality to explore and learn without knowing they are learning, they may just enjoy the exploration at the beginning; then they could add in shared writing that is open for them, but guided toward content standard. Or maybe they could create a Pictochart brochure to invite others to view the world, by highlighting main features that will draw viewers in. This might also be a great parent night activity students can share for younger students.

For students who are tackling math shapes, parents and/or other audiences, could be drawn in with a set of brief instructions on how to view or create shapes on the 3D computer environment.


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Thank you, Anthony, for showing this site to me! This is awesome. I took notes after I signed in and explored.

Here is a link for how to provide a lesson:


To be interactive: the teacher can add open ended questions, polls, quizzes, draw it (Nearpod’s version of an interactive whiteboard), fill in the blanks, and matching pairs. Once the activity is created, the teacher can drag and drop the activity anywhere in their lesson. Also, to create lessons, teachers can add slide, add content, can add multimedia (slide editor, a slide show, virtual fieldtrip, audio, PDF viewer, Live Twitter Feed, also add a website by adding add web content)

Students can join this session by opening the Nearpod app on another device (or going to nearpod.com) and inputting this PIN into the ‘Join Session’ box.

As you advance to the next slide on this “teacher” device, you other “student” device follows along.

Along with you–I see so much potential. It would be easy for me to just jump in and start using VR and save the careful planning for second. Careful planning first, then figure out second what needs to be different next.


English language learners in my school really benefit from images to help them make connections to their learning. I remember learning that the closer we as educators can get to the real object, the easier it is for students to understand a concept that they have not seen or heard of before. VR seems to be better than just a picture, since it is immersive, therefore, very attention focused—where the student in learning in the flow and may ignore outside distractors around them.

I really like your idea of adding Google Cardboard as part of gamifying a classroom.


When I looked through comments, I found these links that I want to explore:

I don’t know what you teach for science but have you heard of the augmented reality apps Anatomy 4D


and Elements 4D https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/elements-4d-by-daqri/id782713582?mt=8. A former colleague of mine used to use them in high school science.

Kate’s YouTube Recording—Notes taken

Gamification and Immersive Technology


streamed live on Sep 26, 2016

Kate Hodges of Oak Hills High School in Cincinnati, OH talks about the gamification of her high school English class with particular attention to immersive technology through Google Virtual Reality Apps. She is a 2nd year Language Arts teacher who teaches 9th, 10th and 11th grade students who range in reading skill levels from 4th grade through 11th grade.


Lesson plan for Animal Farm

Russian Revolution Simulation (understand the allegory of the Russian Revolution); pull in current events.

  1. Background before tasks, scaffolding, formative and then their final. Give background versus lecturing them about the Russian Revolution – being an active part of the simulation.
  2. Creature Utopia—students selected their own creatures that they felt fit their personalities. They chose where their Utopia would be (could be at the bottom of the sea). They added circuits—copper circuits, and LED lights. Students were creating simple circuits to light up their group flag. They earned badges for their society and they got extra XP for their leader board.
  3. Fill in your graphic organizer (plug in and play). Earn 5 XP and get a badge.
  4. Purging and the voting—eliminates popularity; but need to say —

Gulag online   http://thegulag.org/virtual-tour

Press forward—I can walk through the buildings and get an actual view of a gulag.  3D gamification, can use the controls on the computer keys. Can do a 360 panorama. The 3D tells what it would look like at the time. There are 3 minute videos; so she wrote questions related to the views inside the gulag and after watching the 3 minute videos.

Their original utopias were not randomly drawn (as students think they are), rather they were differentiated—this is the teacher’s roll to keep things balanced and equitable for all.

In a gamified world, the students’ focus is on the next task, challenge, the next quest.

Lee—flow is that immersive experience where you get lost in it, and you just move forward; so adjusting the games for differences.

There are different variations where you can go in and start in beginner mode, middle, or advanced.

Kate–Removing the risk and just allowing the learning speak for itself.

Lower level kids are more apt to take a risk and encourage other students to do that.

Chipatronics Circuits with LED lights were used for creating group flags related to the communism studies.

Google Cardboard—Let’s take a trip to the Catacombs (Cast of the Montetoto), then Venice is another place to explore.

Downdoad Google Cardboard app onto your phone. Then the app we are on becomes 3D and matches up to the Google Cardboard.

There is a filter button in on the YouTube.

Google lit trips—a converter from chromebooks

Google Expedition has annotations in there. Google cardboard is much more you run. Water, climate of the ocean, science.

Using the buddy system—the students fill out a form (likely for sharing devices).

Phones would have to be connected to WiFi

We can gamify even without technology.

Math—Discovery Channel—climb to the top of the pyramid; make objects; measure;  Google Excel—making images collaboratively.

Next book—The Yellow Wallpaper

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