Ever since Google launched Expeditions a few years ago every educational technology conference that I’ve been to has included sessions about virtual reality in the classroom. I’ve even given a few of those presentations. Often those presentations focus on using virtual reality apps within a VR viewer like these Google Cardboard viewers. But if your students use iPads in your classroom then you won’t be able to use those viewers and will instead have to find apps that can provide a VR experience without a viewer headset.
Three VR iPad Apps for Social Studies Lessons
Sites in VR is a free iPad app that provides a 1700 virtual reality views of significant landmarks around the world. Sites in VR provides imagery that you can navigate through by moving your phone or tablet in a manner similar to that of using a virtual reality viewer headset. To use the app simply open it then select a country, city, or landmark type. Then on the next screen select from a menu of landmarks to view. Once you’ve made a selection you will be able to view the imagery and navigate through it by moving iPad. You can also pinch and zoom to navigate the imagery.
VR Hangar is a free app produced by the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The app contains three virtual reality tours that feature landmark moments in aviation history. Those moments are the Wright Brothers’ first flight, Chuck Yeager’s record-breaking flight in the Bell X-1, and the Apollo 11 mission. Each of these tours incorporates artifacts from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Google Expeditions can be used on an iPad. The iPad version lets students explore on their own or follow along as you guide them through one of the tours. Students can navigate the tours by touching their iPad screens or by moving their iPads. Watch this short video that I made to learn how to use Google Expeditions.