Using 360º videos on Youtube? Check out Youtube’s Heatmap Analytics! #VR

I have uploaded a few VR videos on my Youtube channel… pretty modest stuff really, but I wonder where people are looking when they engage in my VR content. Youtube’s Heatmap Analytics show me exactly where people are looking as they engage in my VR videos.

gif (3)

This can be used to inform how I shoot video and orient the final product for my viewers.

For more on this check out:

Next Steps for AR and VR in Education: Harnessing The Power of Shared-Experience #edtech


“During our World History lesson that morning, Mr. Avenovich loaded up a standalone simulation so that our class could witness the discovery of King Tut’s tomb by archaeologists in Egypt in AD 1922. (The day before, we’d visited the same spot in 1334 BC and had seen Tutankhamen’s empire in all its glory.)

In my next class, Biology, we traveled through a human heart and watched it pumping from the inside, just like in that old movie, Fantastic Voyage.

In Art class we toured the Louvre while all of our avatars wore silly berets.

In my Astronomy class we visited each of Jupiter’s moons.”

Ready Player One (Cline, 48)

While a fictional-futurist account, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline references an important aspect of a successful, widespread educational VR… shared-experience. In each of the fictional high school courses found above, the main character attends virtual class and goes on virtual experiences with his classmates.

       I just finished reading “Democratizing VR Collaboration: A Conversation with WorldViz” by Mike Boland, who begins the article by stating “One of VR’s killer apps will be social interaction — just ask Facebook.” The article focuses on a company WorldViz who are developing a VR product called Vizible to allow for:

  • immersive sales presentations and product demos with no technical knowledge,
  • Invitation to prospects to join you in VR
  • meet with prospects in a secure real-time VR environment, using your HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

An interesting follow-up detail is that the product would also allow for “review conversations” in order to “develop effective follow-up strategies.” As an educator, who constantly reads articles like this with an instructional-designer frame of thinking, I see some very powerful educational applications for VR field trips where all students are immersed TOGETHER in the learning context and where a reflective review can occur to dissect both the content and the social interactions that occur in the learning.

          Virtual reality and Augmented reality have come a long way over the past several years. In education we have seen applications which bring static papers to life and transport students to faraway places. Most of which is done individually, that is, the individual user on their individual device, visiting an individual place or having an individual experience. One exception to this individual experience would be Google Expeditions where students visit faraway places, together, through virtual reality with their teacher or fellow students serving as a guide (see student smiley-faces in the image)GoogleExpeditionsAnimation(from

Google Expeditions AR, currently in its pilot mode, is promising to offer a similar experience in augmented reality where students use selfie sticks with devices in a shared learning experience (see image).


Both Google Expeditions products embrace the concept of shared experience, a powerful way to approach learning pedagogy which leverages social interactions to promote understanding. Research around the power of shared-experience in education can be understood through Bandura’s (1977) work on the “self-efficacy.” Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments. Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment. This “confidence” comes from multiple sources which demonstrate efficacy expectations, often through shared-experience.

       “Efficacy expectations determine how much effort people will expend and how long they will persist in the face of obstacles and aversive experiences” (Bandura, 1977). Bandura further states, “The strength of people’s convictions in their own effectiveness is likely to affect whether they will even try to cope with given situations” (Bandura, 1977). Therefore to further understand efficacy expectations, Bandura used the four major sources of information as shown:

Efficacy Expectations (Bandura 1977)Bandura’s (1977) the major sources of efficacy expectations elaborate on the power of shared experience in the form of seeing others fail and social persuasion to attempt a task. Seeing others succeed raises mastery expectations, likewise, seeing others perform threatening activities without adverse consequences can generate expectations in observers that they too will improve if they intensify and persist in their efforts. Finally, students can be socially persuaded that they possess the capabilities to master difficult situations by viewing other students attempt the same task.

       Perhaps WorldViz’s Vizible will support a large scale VR educational paradigm-shift to allow for more immersive shared experiences. Google’s work with Expeditions and the soon to be released Oculus Go may provide affordable VR solutions for educational applications of shared-experience, VR learning. 

       We are a long way from Ernest Cline’s description of the OASIS educational system, and perhaps that is a good thing I am not sure we are ready for it. Here’s what Cline had to say about the educational system he developed (in an interview):

Question: Are the schools on Ludus your ideal institutions? If not, what is?

Cline: The virtual schools on Ludus were definitely my attempt to imagine the sort of school every nerdy kid would love to attend. A bully-free learning environment where only your brain goes to class, while your body stays at home. A school where every classroom is a holodeck, and no one ever nails you with a spitball in the back of the head. But the downside for a kid who attended a school like that would be the total lack of true human interaction and socialization. Navigating the high school maze of cliques, clubs, burnouts, and bullies helps prepare you for life after high school. In my experience, you end up using those skills a lot more than calculus or Latin.

The “lack of true human interaction and socialization” is perhaps the scary part of the future of VR in education. While seeking to leverage emergent technology to achieve educational goals it is important that we maintain our focus and design on harnessing the power of shared-experience for every learner.


Bandura, A. (1977). Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change. Psychological Review 84 (2), 191-215.

Boland., Mike. “Democratizing VR Collaboration: A Conversation with WorldViz.”ARTILLRY: A PUBLICATION AND INTELLIGENCE FIRM FOR AR & VR. N.p., 14 Sept. 2017. Web. 13 Dec. 2017.<>.

Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One. Broadway Books, 2011.

“Q and A: Imagining a Virtual Education Oasis.” Education Week Digital Directions. 8 Feb. 2012. Web. 14 Dec. 2017.



Game-based Learning Yields Empathetic Understanding #edtech #edgaming @sid_meier

I have been teaching Social Studies for 18 years and have found a natural place for me in my classroom is the “sage on the stage” when really for my students I think it is best for me to be more often a “guide on the side.” With this in mind, I have been trying to take myself away from the front of the classroom and shifting to supporting student learning. This decision is driven by my understanding of both educational pedagogy and a paradigm shift in knowledge acquisition in our digital age.


Tangible, applicable learning experiences are necessary to support sustainable skills and knowledge for our students. Educating students in an increasingly Google-able world, means shifting our fact-recall focus to experiential learning. Experiential learning occurs when learning experiences are designed to foster context-based empathy. Empathy is defined as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another. Teaching empathy is rapidly being recognized as paramount in preparing students for the world that awaits them. Leveraging the engaging structure of simulations and games to achieve instructional goals can prove a powerful medium in experiential learning.


Simulations have always had a positive impact in my classroom. For years I have led students on historical-context-based adventures to colonize the New World, travel the Oregon Trail, and fight in the Civil War. The teachable moments in these experiences continue to be both widespread and poignant. Together, my students and I discuss multiple perspective around the same events, basing our discussions around their personal experiences during game play.


The interesting thing I have found about the best games are that they are not designed for education. Non-education games have proven to have the most impact with my students. Each fall we form small teams (2-3 people) to play Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization ( against each other (see image:

CDBD86C7-A376-41AB-BED6-63F6C7804128 Our ten linked computers allow for a competitive, history-rich experience around the colonizing of the new world. From this one experience, I will lead student discussions around imports and exports (mercantilism), taxation without representation, indentured servants, slavery, and the difficulties in declaring independence. My students base their comments on their experience as they are similar or different to the historical record.


In a Google Classroom question posed to my students about taxation and independence, I received many excellent responses, one student stated:


A country would want to declare independence because they want they might not like the king taxing them and would like to make their own laws and rules, and do their own stuff, kind of like an edgy teenager. Most of the kings that owned the colonies were greedy and taxed a lot, and some of them didn’t even let the colonists vote for the laws. They also had to still honor the monarchy, even if they hated the monarchs. The king was also the only way for the colonists to get money, causing an unwanted bond between the colony and the monarchs. Eventually the colonists snapped. Independence was difficult to achieve because the kings and queens wanted to keep taxing the people so much that they would do anything to keep them part of their colony, even start war. They would leech off of the colonists until they dropped, and feel no sympathy. Another reason that independence was hard to achieve was that not all people were for independence. This means that some people from even the town trying to achieve independence would be fighting for the kings and queens.”


Other students would echo these sentiments and wrote about colonies not wanting to be under control by the king because of the extra taxes they have to pay. One student stated, “One example is when the King wanted to raise our taxes from 19% to 24% which was ridiculous, however, if we didn’t we wouldn’t be able to trade tobacco.” Further, students addressed the difficulties of becoming independent by expressing that not all colonists had a positive opinion toward independence because they were still loyal to their country and king and that to persuade them would take printing presses and newspapers, which were difficult to build.


These responses were all prior to our any class content on the British Colonies and illustrate an empathic understanding of the colonial experience. When we discuss taxation without representation students will understand the dissatisfaction of the British colonists at a whole new level.


The increased motivation and engagement of my students toward the content that I teach has led me to search for more game-based experiences. It has become clear to me that game-based learning can increase student empathy toward historical content. Through this emotional, empathetic connection my students appreciate the experience of historical peoples which breathes life into our shared past.


Further readings from my blog:


Civ IV setup