Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Google Cardboard: Six Easy Steps to Getting Started

Being a teacher can be a tough job. There's the creative part, where you get to make up activities and plan lessons that you think will be absorbing and fun and drive your point home. Then you have the soul slaying-parts of teaching such as marking tests, writing report cards and, yes, sometimes dealing with other people who are not as excited about what you are trying to do with them as you are and would rather Whatsapp on their phone/talk to their friends/flirt with the kid in the next seat- let's call them "students" - for lack of another word. 

But then there are those days when everything just flows: You get that convenient parking spot (thanks to the suspicious object that was in the parking lot and forced the other teachers who would have gotten the space before you to move to an alternate parking lot, but was found to be an innocent sleeping bag forgotten by some poor kid the night before, just in time for you to pull in.)

Or when your class of challenging learners who have all the learning disabilities and frustrations in the book, get into working on their Googleslides presentation that is going to help them sail through their oral exams.

And if, on the same day you manage to get all your ducks in a row (different tasks gleaned from previous years and updated, incorporated into your Google Classroom), AND you get the computer room, AND not ONE of the students are absent, AND they are all KNOW you are on a roll!

But then the cherry on the cake was when I came home and was doing some OTHER mind-numbing work that is part of my other job (wrestling with a computer system to send out testing assignments to teachers all over the country from my region) and decided to take a break. That's when I picked up my Google Cardboard, and started playing. 

TIme out: One of the other things I do as part of my passion for teaching, is all of these cooperations with Google Israel, and in the framework of that, I have been running this Google Translate Community Competition (already written up in a blog post from last year). In the framework of this year's competition, we were able to hand out Google Cardboard as one of the prizes for each of the students in the top classes. So I told Google: "If I want to be able to get teachers excited about Google Cardboard, I need to get my hands dirty." So I was given one, by one of my well-loved colleagues from Google who shall remain unnamed (so they all think I am talking about them ;-), but had not really had time to play with it. 

Until yesterday. 

Actually I started playing a week ago - and saw that when I opened it, I would NOT break it (providing I actually followed the simple picture instructions before mangling it) and that it was a really effective - and CHEAP (it only costs a few bucks) way to use Virtual Reality (VR) for teaching! And I sort of noticed that there is the option to actually MAKE my OWN 360 degree movie, and then SHARE IT... but didn't have the time to check it out at the time. 

Fast forward to yesterday:

So you know how the first YouTube movie ever was just a mundane 18 seconds of this guy standing in a zoo in front of the elephants and talking? So I made my own ground breaking first 360 degree cardboard movie tour of my (messy) work room!  And if you click on the link and view it in Cardboard, you SHOULD be able to hear me showing you around! ( should be too embarrassed to show you the state of my work room, but I am too psyched up about this for my brain-filter to click in - I'm sure I'll regret sharing it here someday - because what you put on the web, stays there FOREVER.)

The possibilities of using this in the classroom - both for just viewing as well as for having your students use it to speak in English and to produce 360 degree clips for others to view - is MINDBLOWING! (See? Who says I'm difficult to please? ;-) )

Here's all you need:

1) A Googlecardboard (There's a bunch of ways you can buy online, for example here  or here on EBay - or get your class to participate in the next Google Translate Community Competition, and win them :-) but in any case, they are not expensive.)

2) Download the app to your phone from your Google Play Store or iTunes. (It's free.)

3) Install it on your phone. 

4) Follow these instructions (see you don't even have to figure out the drawings on the box for yourself, like I did). 

5) And start playing!

6) Once you have got the idea (within about 5 seconds) you are ready to make your own movie.

I plan to convince my school to buy a class set of them - I'll let you know when we've started! 

Have YOU tried using Google Cardboard for your EFL teaching? If you have, please share your experiences AND activities! I am gathering them to share with everyone on a new portal for digital activities for the MoE and would be happy to showcase them there (giving credit, of course!)

Digitally yours,


September 2017

I got my Cardboards. Here's what we did (thanks to Lee Reshef and Irit Merchav!!!)

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