Articles tagged "roundme"

Creating VR in the geography classroom

The following slides were used to illustrate the discussions at the 'Using/Creating VR in the geography classroom' workshop held at the 2017 Geographical Association Conference held at the University of Surrey.

Useful links

My Opinion: Google Cardboard = Educational Cocaine, really?

The Daily Mail has found some ‘experts’ who have equivocated Google’s efforts to demo Google Cardboard and Google Expeditions in classrooms to them pushing ‘educational cocaine’. This is a bit much - not on the whole Daily Mail scale of a bit much - but daft nevertheless.

Google's virtual school invasion

I admit that Google is trying hard to get into as many schools as possible but in my opinion student use of ‘classroom VR’ is an excellent educational opportunity. Classroom VR can engage, motivate, help a teacher facilitate deeper understanding and may even help students enjoy and remember a lesson even more - heaven forbid.

So Google will come to your school with a class set of smartphones and Google Cardboard headsets along with  all the necessary gadgetry to make it all work. It’s free, it’s pretty cool and why wouldn’t you say yes? I doubt that many schools have run out and purchased a class set of phones, headsets, tablets and gadgetry - though you can if you want. Google has even partnered with the Open University to research the impact on student questions.

“educational experts fear the devices take pupils further away from traditional classroom teaching and distract from the ‘hard graft’ of actual learning”

— Jonathan Petre for the Main on Sunday


At the International School of Geneva - Campus des Nations we have recently purchased a class set of Mattel View-Master Google Cardboard headsets. Students use their own smartphones if they have one (on average about half of a class - the percentage increasing with age). I have witnessed the headsets being used to teach the structure of the heart to Year 10 and Year 13, the process of fertilization with in cell visualization that helped the teacher focus upon the genetic material being ‘mixed’ with Year 10, Year 11 students seeing the destruction of Hiroshima after the Allies dropped the atomic bomb and Year 8 students describing the challenges of life in a desert while looking at photospheres taken on a recent field trip.

Last week I team-taught a Year 11 Individual and Societies lesson with a colleague. As he worked with the class to  explore development indicators I worked with small groups (working on a rotation) who used our Google Cardboard headsets to see life in the Hadzabe Tribe of Lake Eyasi and then standing beneath and on the 43rd floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. After the initial wows and the students nearly falling from their seats as they craned their necks to see the top of the Burj Khalifa the questioning and discussion got insightful about the deeper elements of what development actually is.

“Critics warned last night that such ‘gimmicks’ were dangerous and children would later pester their parents to buy the more expensive leisure version”

— Jonathan Petre for the Main on Sunday

The ‘gimmick’ label has been thrown at Google Cardboard for a while now. If after such an experience a child pesters a parent to buy some Google Cardboard (available for just a couple of EUR/GBP/CHF) and they talk about and show that parent what they have seen and experienced - excellent - that is a win! Some of our Year 7 students have done this and it makes me happy. If after a visit from the Google ‘dealers’ a parent feels the need to run out and get a HTC Vive or Oculus Rift - then the issues run a little deeper.

“‘This is educational cocaine. These things are gimmicks and more about entertainment than education.’”

— Jonathan Petre for the Main on Sunday

Why can’t education be entertaining? It doesn't always need to be - but for all involved some fun is a good thing. The first time a class uses Google Cardboard it is best to get the major wows out the way quickly - swimming with turtles, climbing El Capitan and visiting the Taj Mahal. In the same way, during the first lesson with Google Earth, you need to allow students to find their house, and their friend’s house and their grandparents’ house and so on.

After that initial peak of excitement the really valuable educational opportunities can occur. Although Google curates all the content on Google Expeditions there are opportunities to visit student and teacher created photospheres. For such an educational expedition you need to venture away from Google Expeditions to alternative services that work with Google Cardboard like the excellent

Google Cardboard is not ‘educational cocaine’. It’s engaging, there is potential but there will be no major ‘high’ without a skilled teacher integrating its use into a purposeful and focused lesson.

Using Roundme to create an classroom VR resource

Here is version 1 of a classroom VR resource that I have produced using a smartphone, Roundme (and the Conisbrough Castle English Heritage guidebook).

Roundme call their immersive experiences 'spaces'. This 'space': Grand Designs - Conisbrough Castle, Yorkshire, UK - includes 8 panoramas.  The idea is that students experience the resource using a smartphone and a Google Cardboard headset as well as another digital device such as a tablet or laptop. The 'hotspots' that include information and questions can not be seen while in 'VR Mode'. 'Portals' link the panoramas - guiding the students through the experience. I have tried to propose questions that look for evidence within the images.

Feedback gratefully received.

Creating VR in the (geography) classroom

This blog post supports a workshop I delivered at Practical Pedagogies 2016 titled: Creating VR in the (geography) classroom.

Google Expeditions

Google Cardboard Handsets




Visiting Yosemite with Classroom VR

This post is the culmination of a period of research. It was prompted by a teacher’s request for her class (Year 7) to experience Yosemite National Park to stimulate discussion of it’s wonder and the part water has played upon forming the landscape.

Our school has a BYOL policy and (most) students have smartphones. We have a class set of Google Cardboard headsets. The steps below should work on iOS and Android devices.

360° Video via YouTube

Smartphone + Google Cardboard

Install the YouTube app > open the app and search for 'Yosemite slackline 4K' > turn the device landscape and click on the Google Cardboard icon.


Click on this link. Click anywhere on the video and hold the mouse button down to be able to drag your view of the video around.

Visit 360° spheres using Roundme

Smartphone + Google Cardboard

Install the Roundeme app > open the app > search for 'Yosemite' or > click on the Menu icon > People > type 'Richard Allawa'y > choose either 'Above Nevada Falls' or 'Yosemite Valley from the summit'. Turn the device landscape and click on the Google Cardboard icon.


Click on either 'Above Nevada Falls, Yosemite Valley' [2 scenes] or 'Yosemite Valley from the summit of Sentinel Dome'. Click anywhere on the image and hold the mouse button down to be able to drag your view of the 360° sphere around.

Google Expeditions


Google ExpeditionsSmartphone + Google Cardboard

Install the Google Expeditions app on a tablet for the teacher. Install Google Expeditions and the Google Cardboard apps on student smartphones. Teacher (Guide) runs El Capitan or National Parks: Mt Rushmore, Yosemite & Yellowstone expeditions. Students 'follow'.


Not available.

Climbing El Capitan in Street View

Smartphone + Google Cardboard

Install the Google Street View App > search 'Yosemite Valley' > click on 'Featured' > click on 'Yosemite' > click on 'The Base of El Capitan'. Turn the device landscape and click on the Google Cardboard icon.


Click here.

Visit Glacier Point in Street View

Smartphone + Google Cardboard

Install the Google Street View App > search 'Glacier Point Yosemite' > click on 'Explore' > choose a good view!


Click here.

Desert VR Experience created for Individual and Societies class

A four scene VR experience created from 360° images taken during a geography field trip to Morocco. The images where taken with a Ricoh THETA S and a Nexus 6 smartphone using the Google Camera app.

The students will use their own smartphone devices and school provided Google Cardboard headsets. The context of the lesson can be seen here on

Solution Number 1: Roundme

So after several hours trying different approaches and posting on the official Google Help Forum I can confirm that Google’s Street View app will not currently open photospheres from external links.

I intend to outline a number of different solutions. I still want a simple workflow - that allows students to click a link on their smartphone device and arrive in a Google Cardboard ready photosphere - so it is now time to look for third-party solutions.

‘Googling’ the issue lead me to the Photo Sphere Google + Community and then in turn to Roundme.

Roundme is a web and app (iOS and Android) based application that makes the production of engaging photospheres easy. Roundme launched in 2014 and received $3 million of venture capital funding in 2015.


  • It is (currently) free and without advertising - but see also the ‘Cons’...
  • When using an Android device clicking on the ‘Roundme’ logo on an embedded ‘Space’ opens the app (as long as it is installed on the device) and then with one further click the photosphere can be viewed in ‘Cardboard’ mode.
  • It is easy to upload images taken either using a 360° camera such as the Ricoh Theta, the Photosphere function of the Android Google Camera app or Google Street View app on iOS (the Google Street View app is not available for the iPod Touch).
  • Geolocation seems to be one of the core elements of the service.
  • You can add notes to the photospheres as ‘Hotspots’ to add learning potential, teaching points and context.
  • It is possible to link photospheres together using a ‘Portal’ to produce a ‘Space’.


  • It is free and there is no advertising and therefore what is the service’s longevity? (I would happily pay for the service that Roundme is offering.)
  • When using an iOS device clicking on the ‘Roundme’ logo on an embedded ‘Space’ does not open the app (as it does on Android) but instead opens a browser. It would be necessary to know what/where you were looking for within the iOS Roundme app.
  • It is a shame to have to use a third-party solution rather than being able to stay within the Google ecosystem of Street View.

There is good news - Roundme is intending to have a mobile browser Cardboard mode available within the next couple of months.