In order to fully understand the usefulness of Grove Learning, you first have to understand a problem VR headsets pose to educators. That problem is ensuring students are on task and not playing games. After All, what they are doing in a headset is only visible to them. This is where Grove Learning steps up.
VR technology has seen vast improvements in the last few years. Processing speeds and better resolution capabilities have opened the door to stand-alone headsets. The Oculus Rift and Rift S units need a computer to run the applications. Since a computer is needed, you have the computer screen to mirror what is in the HMD (Head Mounted Display). The Oculus Quest, however, does not need a computer to run the apps. Apps are downloaded onto the headset and run without a tethered setup. This creates problems for people looking to use the Quest for educational reasons. Without the need for a computer to run the apps, there is no way of knowing what students are doing in the headset.
The Barberton High School VR team put it to the test in our classroom on 6 Oculus Quest devices. Here is what we learned.
Grove Learning is an application that allows you to launch all of your devices into a teacher chosen application. Once in, the home screen on the teacher computer shows what students are doing in the Oculus Quest. Additionally, it provides features to create a class, an app lock called “focus mode,” and video streaming to make sure the students are doing the right thing. A fun feature of “focus mode” is when a student exits the app, Grove Learning automatically relaunches it and puts the student where they left off. Grove Learning solves the largest problem using Quests poses to VR use in education. A third party app with these capabilities is essential for teachers looking to use the Quest in the classroom.
As with any Beta version of software, there are still some bumps in the road. There is a learning curve and some time involved with the initial installation and setup on the Quests. Since we initially began testing the product, Grove Learning has already rolled out a few updates. This shows a commitment to making their product more versatile and user friendly moving forward.
Grove Learning will need to be a strong consideration for people who are using more than one Quest in an educational setting. Once high schools and colleges begin purchasing classroom sets of VR equipment, third party monitoring software will be a must for student monitoring. If you want to learn more about Grove Learning, check out their website.
***Shout out to Cara McKeown, Robert Hamilton, Sean Sutter, Chedo Bundalo, and Santino Fox for leading the installation, testing, and most of all, writing this review. There is nothing more rewarding as a teacher than when you put students in roles of responsibility and watch them flourish.
(Disclaimer: We are simply a high school class interested in using VR to further education. We are in no way affiliated with Oculus, Grove Learning, or any other company. We used our equipment to test it and provide an honest evaluation.)