Using Virtual Reality in your social studies classroom to increase student engagement

3 Ways to use Virtual Reality in Social Studies

October 23, 2019Kali Guinn

For many students, learning about history from a book can be dry and uninteresting. The places are foreign to them, the terms are confusing, or they just can connect with the content. Virtual Reality lessons are a great way to bring your social studies content to life! They put your students smack in the middle of the learning. Here’s 3 engaging ways to use VR in social studies this year!

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History from a First-Person Perspective

Many of the events covered in history books have occurred in places students have never seen and probably won’t visit in the near future. Virtual Reality is a great way to transport students to these sites! They can then connect what they see to the events they read about. The US History lesson series within the Historical Perspectives & Literacy collection leverages VR experiences to support deeper thinking about the events that shaped our country. Virtual field trips like these not only show students where those events occurred, but also explore what it might have felt like to actually be there. This new personal, possibly emotional, connection to these events will give students an entirely new take on history and a deeper understanding of how these events impacted lives.

Understand Legacies through Locations

Another great use of VR is to bring historical figures to life in your classroom. We often read to students about the accomplishments of these famous people, but that can be very teacher-centered and one-sided. It’s a much more powerful experience when students can move beyond the text and literally walk in the shoes of notable humans such as Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, and Nelson Mandela. Through exploring these locations, students can use their observations to think critically and discover their impact rather than simply read about it.

For example, the VR lessons on the life of Martin Luther King Jr. each provide a deeper look into who he was as a person. Sure, you can view his speech online and read about his life, but why not instead immerse yourself in the locations that shaped who he became? By visiting the actual site of his “I Have a Dream” speech or exploring Morehouse College where he spent his teenage years, students can see the things that helped create his legacy.

Explore Diverse Cultures

As large and diverse as our country is, many students have limited experience outside of their hometown. VR can be used as a quick lesson hook to activate background knowledge before diving deeper into content. VR integrates seamlessly into the Nearpod platform so you can take a quick field trip to a location and then jump right back into your core lesson without missing a beat. Explore famous landmarks across all 7 continents. Journey through nature in our country’s national parks. Travel to key sites from world events like the French Revolution and World War II. There are countless field trips available already. It’s easy to find one that supports your social studies lesson goals!

With so many places to visit and endless opportunities to integrate Virtual Reality into your Social Studies content, what are you waiting for? Start exploring the world with your students today! 

Have a favorite landmark or social studies lesson? Share it with us in the comments below!

Explore VR

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