6 Ways to Bring VR Into Your Classroom on a Budget


While 85 percent of teachers agree that virtual reality would be a great addition to the classroom, only 2 percent of them are actually using it, according to a survey of more than 1,000 K-12 teachers in the U.S.

One of the most popular reasons for not using it: cost, with some of the most well-know virtual reality headsets costing hundreds of dollars. Luckily, that doesn’t have to be a barrier anymore. As the industry grows, so do your options as a teacher with a small budget.

Companies like Google and Samsung are working toward bringing affordable options into the classroom. Not to mention, there are many tools you already have access to, like Google Maps that make it easy to play with virtual reality without any extra equipment or cost.

Use these ideas to bring virtual reality into your classroom on a budget.

Google Cardboard

If you’re already equipped with a smart phone, you’re ready to use Google Cardboard, Google’s inexpensive virtual reality goggles. Cardboard was released in 2014 and is the most inexpensive “head mounted display” to date, according to a Virtual Reality: A 360-Degree View of the Future.

This piece of cardboard, which costs $15, is folded according to directions with space to attach your phone. (See a tutorial here). Once put together, you can download more than 15 free apps to use with the headset, creating a virtual reality experience right in the classroom.

If you have an iPhone, check out these apps to use with your Google Cardboard. If you have an Android, browse this selection.

Samsung Gear VR

Using one of Samsung’s Galaxy phones, you can strap on their Samsung Gear headset to visit far away lands, swim through the sea and more. While this is more expensive than Google Cardboard at $99 a headset, it may provide a better experience for students.

Once purchased, you can choose from a variety of free apps to use in your lessons, including popular ones that you’re students already know, like Minecraft. Other apps, such as Labster, allow students to run virtual experiments and advanced simulations that they’d never otherwise be able to experience.

Virtual Field Trips

You don’t need a special headset to bring virtual reality to your classroom. This world can be experienced online with a simple tablet, computer or laptop; you just have to know where to look for fun and educational adventures. Here are a few websites to check out:

  • Polar Husky: Head here to see what it’s like to be a dog racer. Choose from locations around the world and see what the experience is like.
  • Arounder: This website allows you to visit some of the largest tourist destinations around the world, with 360-degree views. Think: Easter Island, Paris and more. This is a great way for students who don’t travel much to see the world.

Check out 10 Virtual Field Trips to Explore the World to find more exciting opportunities for your class.

Google Maps

You probably don’t even realize that you have a whole world of virtual reality at your fingertips, for free. Use Google Maps to bring virtual reality into your classroom quickly and easily.

For example, when studying Pompeii, use Google Maps to get a 360-degree view of what it looks like now. Have students take notes on what’s the same, what’s different and what historic events they think lead to these changes.

You can also use Google Earth Walks to find pre-made lessons for math, social studies and science that you use with Google Maps.


You may know ThingLink as the tool students can use to annotate posters and presentations with videos, links and more. Now, they’ve stepped into the world of virtual reality with their VR Content. This new feature, built for businesses, allows students to annotate 360-degree images the same way they would a regular piece of work on ThingLink.

Students will love moving around their image, adding interactive content to annotate what they’re looking at.

This is a fun way to put students in the driver’s seat. Have each one take a 360-degree photo of their favorite place in town (or in school), upload into ThingLink and then annotate to explain why they love it so much.  This would be great at the start of the year, when students are learning about each other.

Nearpod VR

This popular edtech tool is now helping you bring virtual reality to your classroom. With 100 built-in lessons, for students in grades K-12, Nearpod VR the easiest way to tie lessons and virtual reality experiences together seamlessly and effectively. Not to mention the built-in polling feature allows students to vote on where they want to go or what they want to see.

If your school or district purchases a license, you’ll get headsets for free. However, you don’t need headsets to take part in their VR lessons. If your school already pays for Nearpod, then this newly integrated feature will already be available to you.

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About Jessica Sanders

Director of Social Outreach for Whooo’s Reading, a San Diego-based education organization that motivates students to read more every day.It’s available to teachers, schools and districts. Jessica grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her.

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