Starting out with Google Cardboard

Today I had my first proper play with Google Cardboard and I must say it was a lot of fun!

What is it? You may well ask! I only came across it relatively recently myself via a friend at work – thanks Esther! It’s essentially Google’s answer to creating immersive virtual reality (VR) experiences that are “simple, fun and affordable.”

Works with Google Cardboard logoTo start, you’ll ideally need an android phone – I did try it out on my iPhone, but the results were not as good, and a viewer. Apparently you can make your own viewer (so I’ve heard, although I haven’t personally tried or know anyone who has), or you can pick up a viewer here. The link in the previous sentence takes you to a range of viewers that have been endorsed by Google to work effectively with Google Cardboard apps and contain the logo to the right (a kind of kitemark, if you will). However, I bought my viewer from Amazon UK for only £10, and I’ve noticed it doesn’t have the logo, but seem to work fine nevertheless. It would be interesting to see how they compare to Google-endorsed viewers, but I guess the point is if you want to have a quick play you can at relatively low cost. After getting a viewer you then have to assemble it, which is fairly straightforward. Like with anything else, if you’re unsure though there are plenty of short video tutorials on YouTube that will walk you through this.

Google Carboard viewer

Here’s the Google Cardboard viewer I put together earlier.


After putting the viewer together you’re almost good to go. Search the Google Play Store for “Google Cardboard apps” and you’ll get a range of apps like those pictured below. First, go for the Cardboard app (first one in the image below) and then other VR apps you download will sit inside this app.

Google Carboard apps

Many of these apps are short VR games you can play (many of which are free to download too) that give you a feel for the whole VR experience. Personally, I’m a bit of a horror fan, so I was keen to try out the “A Chair In A Room” game and loved it!  Here’s a short YouTube clip of the game (don’t worry – it doesn’t contain any spoilers):

Perhaps not one for the squeamish to try out first (seriously, it’s not too scary. Honestly…), but wearing the viewer does give you an eerie sense of being part of the whole experience more. The music is equally atmospheric and the fact that your field of vision is completely captured by the viewer makes for a more immersive experience than simply playing a game on a widescreen TV, PC, tablet, etc. In fact, whilst playing I found myself becoming so involved at times that I had to occasionally stop and remove the viewer to prevent myself bumping into furniture as I stumbled around my house! Being a horror themed game there’s a lot of fumbling around in the darkness with only a torch that has a dodgy battery, creating more suspense.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a quick post with my initial ramblings on Google Cardboard, I’d better finish the game *dons viewer* and investigate that suspicious looking…

Wait, hang on…?


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How can adults encourage young users of social networking to use it safely and responsibly?

It’s a simple enough question, but one which opens up a minefield of potential issues. Over the weekend my young nephew added me as a friend on Facebook – I’m sure this is a familiar scenario to many adults out there who have wrestled with the pros and cons of having younger relatives appear virtually into their digital lives. Do you accept their friend request or not? Should they be on Facebook or not? How do you manage what they see on your profile and what they post on their own? These are all questions that occur to the responsible adult and all need to be given careful thought. Continue reading

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“Students are more than students.”

Students are more than students, these words, taken from Paul Chapman’s presentation, became a kind of mantra for the two day Change Agents’ Network (CAN) event in Birmingham earlier this month. Paul was alluding to the multitude of roles students play at Birmingham City University to add value to the overall learning experience, from mentor and collaborator, to expert and leader (to name but a few), and this clearly struck a resonance with the audience, evidenced by the plethora of innovative projects and practices shared over the two days. Continue reading

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FE Digital Student consultation events underway

Last week I attended the second in a series of events taking place throughout the UK as part of the FE Digital Student Project and was delighted to see plenty of stimulating discussions and thought-provoking presentations centred around the theme of learners’ expectations and experiences of using technology in further education.

The day included a range of practical and participatory workshops designed not only to tease out what the challenges are facing colleges in meeting the needs of different digital learners, but also, critically, what actions colleges can take forward to meet these challenges head on. One of the key findings from the focus groups was that it can often be all too easy to make assumptions on behalf of the digital needs of our learners, but a more appropriate and enriching approach is to ensure that an open dialogue between staff and learners is established from the start, which empowers learners to take an active role in the planning and provisioning of support. Continue reading

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Making the Most of LinkedIn

When the topic of presenting yourself online in the best possible light and your digital footprint arises, it’s difficult not to mention LinkedIn at some point.  However, invariably the most common response from academics tends to be: “LinkedIn? Meh!”  It’s as if there’s an almost universal acknowledgement that in today’s competitive job market there’s definitely a need to give yourself every edge, but when it comes to actually doing something about it an overwhelming sense of apathy descends. Continue reading

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Ten Session Plan Ideas for Teaching Digital Footprint

I’ll keep this one brief, as the title’s pretty self-explanatory and it’s all covered in the introduction anyway so there’s no need to repeat everything here. Continue reading

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Observations on Moderating a Facebook Group

Facebook often provokes mixed opinions from teachers when exploring its educational applications and, as a fellow sceptic myself, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my own experiences of moderating a Facebook group. Continue reading

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Reflections on #LearnPod13

So, #LearnPod13 is finally done and dusted for yet another year, and now I’ve slept on it and my brain has finally started to stop buzzing with all the myriad ideas and thoughts that the event provoked, I ask myself ‘what did people get out of it?’ – other than the cake! Continue reading

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Putting the pieces of your digital identity together

I’m not a lover of jigsaws, it has to be said.  Mainly because I’m not very good at them, but the jigsaw analogy for your digital identity is an apt one.  In a previous post, Behind the Mask of Digital Identity, we explored the fragmented nature of a digital identity (or identities) and how publishing vignettes of ourselves online, often for a variety of different audiences, on a variety of different social media sites and for a variety of different reasons, can make managing our online identities challenging to say the least. Continue reading

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Ten Great Ways to Use Pinterest to Support Learning

I recently started baking gingerbread men. It was my first real attempt at baking, I have to admit, and was spurred into it by a bizarre Christmas present of some cut-outs for making gingerbread men in the shape of ninja (thus, transforming a normal everyday “gingerbread” man into a lethal “ninjabread” man). A little childish, perhaps, but the act of creating something so visually striking (and tasty!) that others could enjoy was thoroughly satisfying. Continue reading

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