The virtual reality tour of Salem, Massachusetts I did for this mini-lesson seemed like a success and was a great experience to learn how I can better improve the use of this technology in my future virtual reality lessons. Fortunately, I had some experience using the headsets in a classroom before using them in the mini-lesson, but I learned how to feel more confident in teaching with the technology due to the improvised approach of not guiding participants through their tour from the central iPad (since I couldn’t get a stable connection). Of course the audience for my mini-lesson was a much more controlled and participatory group than almost any group of students I would eventually do this lesson with, but I was still impressed by the group’s ability to understand how material can be learned through relevant images in virtual reality.
One of the challenges in my mini-lesson, which has also been a challenge when using the VR in my classroom, is the timing and pacing required to get through everything important while accounting for technical difficulties that will detract from available instruction time. Although the mini-lesson did not go the full 25 minutes, I also left out nearly half the information planned for a full lesson and only got through ~2/3rds of the tour itself. Since the tour and accompanying information are planned for a 50-minute lesson, I would have expected to get through either much more of the tour in 25 minutes or at least go into a substantial amount more detail.
In general, I think I accomplished the goal I had with this mini-lesson, which was to get more experience teaching with the virtual reality and receive feedback on how I could improve my approach for when I do similar lessons in the future. Timing and pacing is what I learned to still be an area that needs attention, but perhaps this is a factor that will “work itself out” as I practice each tour over the course of time!