CoSpaces. Easily Create a VR Scene

 I stumbled across CoSpaces recently and it was a fortunate piece of timing as I was in need of ‘something different’ for my new lunchtime computing club to do that was both fun and productive.
CoSpaces allows anyone to create a scene which can be viewed on a computer, tablet or phone and explored. It also has an accompanying app and when this is paired up with a VR headset allows people to explore your created scene in, well VR obviously.
I introduced the pupils to CoSpaces a few weeks ago and as I wasn’t driven my any particular curriculum objectives to cover, gave them a session to explore the software, the gallery of examples from CoSpaces and other users.  After that I asked them to think of what they’d like to create between now and Easter. I threw out a few ideas: a zoo, a gallery or a VR nursery rhyme and left them to ponder.

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I’d set up an account to use and provided them with a link to Cospaces in J2Launch and the CoSpaces YouTube channel. I decided on this approach as it gave me the opportunity to view work as it progressed. If they’d all had their own accounts, it’d have been far trickier to do this. One disadvantage of this approach is that they can edit each other’s work, so we had a chat about being responsible users and it was OK to view but not edit other people’s work. I didn’t particularly like the swan that someone had parked in my virtual zoo and whilst it wasn’t a deal breaker, it could have been if they’d decided to delete the scene altogether. I’ve since been in touch with CoSpaces via their Facebook page and one of the many things they’re working on is a classroom management facility that ought to sort this out and also allow teachers to comment on work as it progresses. I’m looking forward to this as it is tricky to find the time to discuss the work as we only have 30 mins at lunchtime and tempus fugit and all that.

Week 2 brought two surprises. One pupil had sat down with her Mum and had set up her own account and another had gone to PC world and had purchased a VR Headset- surprisingly cheap these days at around £15 for something that works. If you don’t want to stretch that far, the Google Cardboard headsets can be bought for less than a fiver. Just make sure you get a set that allows you access to your phone screen or has a remote to allow you to walk through your VR scenes. I purchased without due diligence and now have to buy a 2nd VR headset for the full experience. Grrr!

As well as the 2 who went off their own bats, the enthusiasm from the rest has been infectious. Plenty of work has been done at home and after the first 2 sessions we all now have a clear plan of what the end product will be by Easter. I can’t show you work in progress as it can only be published to the gallery once completed, but there plenty of examples done by others to view.

Until recently, you created your scene online on a PC/Mac/Chromebook and viewed it on these devices, tablets and, for the full experience, a VR headset using the CoSpaces companion app on both Apple and Android. A recent development, and they seem to be developing at a pace, are apps that now let you create on both Apple and Android tablets.

Creating a scene is very simple and is a drag and drop exercise. There’s a reasonable selection of assets for you to use that come with the software and images can be imported and others purchased from the CoSpaces Market Place. I treated Grandchild No 1 to the underwater clipart and it was 10 Euros well spent. It was also interesting to see how Grandchild No 2, at 5 years old, was easily able to create a scene and bring in objects.

As well as the relatively simple process of creating a scene CoSpaces goes much further as it has a coding element built in. Users can block coding, similar to Scratch, J2Code, etc or dive in with Java. We’re still very much at the block stage. Interestingly, the pupils had done some coding with me in J2Code and the transition to CoSpaces blocks was as I’d hoped: Seamless. Transferable skills and all that!

 

 

 

 

So, could I see CoSpaces moving from computer club to the curriculum? Easily. Like many other pieces of software and apps, it is open ended and therefore lends itself to storytelling, coding, both, creating an infographic or creating a 3-D model. I have a sneaking feeling that schools looking for something purposeful for Y6 to do post-SAT could do a lot worse than investigate CoSpaces.

My current favourite scene, created by CoSpaces I hasten to add, is here. Take 5, enjoy and think, as I did, now if only…..

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