Updates are coming on the Oculus Go, the highly anticipated stand-alone VR headset. Many educators are excited as well about this device, as it has a few important upsides:
- At $199 it’s quite cheap
- There is no hassle with separate phones that you have to attach to a VR headset
- The remote control gives you interactive possibilities, although not nearly as much as an HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows MR set.
The simplicity of this device really makes it attractive to schools. You can easily imagine a cart with 15 of these devices, including a charging system, which teachers can reserve for certain classes.
In my opinion however, the disadvantages of this system outweigh the advantages:
You only have access to the Oculus ecosystem, which is a really closed-off system and owned by Facebook
We have a lot of Oculus Gear VR headsets with Samsung phones. We really like those, as the Oculus system has quite high-quality experiences and most importantly: everything just works. But the great thing is that you can use these phones in other ways as well. You can use them for regular apps, or perhaps some Augmented Reality apps. Or use them to control 360 cameras and watch YouTube 360 videos. And most importantly: you can also easily use them for Google Cardboard apps which is a much more open ecosystem. You just slide the phone into a Google Cardboard headset and you’re ready to go. Or we sometimes even use this trick, where you don’t connect your phone to the Gear VR:
More experimental apps, or perhaps a VR experience that your students have created themselves, are usually only accessible from Google Cardboard. But also established educational apps like Google Expeditions are only for the Google Cardboard platform. You just miss a ton of content when you choose for an Oculus Go.
And how are IT coordinators going to support these devices? You can currently only operate them in VR mode. Installing and updating apps is going to be exhausting…
There was some discussion going on about this article, I decided to add an update.
First of all, we are well aware that we are quite privileged to have a choice between this many devices. But considering what we do, we think it makes sense.
Secondly: we’re not saying that this device doesn’t offer any value to schools. Of course not! The Oculus Store features some great apps. But we don’t think it’s the best option if you want to stay flexible, that’s why we don’t recommend it.
So, what do we recommend then? That’s quite a complicated question; we have noticed that we advice schools and teachers different things based on their specific situation. But if you want to buy ‘cheap’, versatile mobile VR sets and you don’t want to depend on the phones of your students, we advice to buy a Gear VR + a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S6 or newer. In the Netherlands you can get a refurbished S6 + Gear VR for around €235. And some other advice: don’t buy a lot of hardware at once as VR hardware improves pretty rapidly. Our advice is to take it slow, focus on the content and the implementation in your lessons and carefully take next steps.
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