zSpace Virtual Reality Station

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Day 6 is Club day at Durham Academy Middle School. Mr. Schaefer, Mrs. Schwartz, Mrs. Williams, and Mrs. Donnelly offer a Coding Club where students learn how to use code, write code, and create interactive experiences.

Yesterday, Stephen Allison from zSpace gave us the opportunity to play and learn using a virtual reality station. We got to take apart a motor, hold a virtual butterfly, and see inside a heart.

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“The zSpace System comes with a high definition stereoscopic display. It rendering full resolution images for your eyes and tracking your head movements to create a smooth parallax experience.”  http://zspace.com​
I was curious about parallax. Just in case you are too, here is what Wikipedia reveals: Parallax is a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight, and is measured by the angle or semi-angle of inclination between those two lines.
Students put on the glasses, picked up the stylus, and with minimal guidance from Mr. Allison were able to manipulate the tools with ease. I even got in on the game. We took layers off, labeled parts, and felt the heart beat through the stylus. We could reach out and “touch” the things we were viewing. Of course I inquired about Language Arts applications, and they are in the works. Can you imagine a 3D reading experience?
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To get an idea of what it can do, watch this video: http://edu.zspace.com/resources/how-to-franklins-lab
To learn more go to http://zspace.com​



Logitech Keyboard for iPad

I am using a Logitech keyboard with my iPad to type this post. It feels like a real keyboard and certainly has other advantages. For instance, it is easy to plug in, and it works right away. There is no Bluetooth involved. I also like that I can see the entire screen when typing a longer document. For someone my age who is used to a keyboard, I can type faster and more accurately.

The keyboard has some disadvantages as well. As I am typing, I can hear the plastic sound of the keys. Conversely, when typing on the glass on the iPad, it is silent. In addition, the keyboard is not connected to the iPad in a carrying case so it would be hard to carry it around from class to class. I wish the keyboard were thinner and the keys were more like the ones on the MacBook Pro laptop. It would be interesting if it could just clip to the iPad in some way to carry together. As a 6th grade language arts teacher, I can see how the keyboard would be helpful for younger students who are transitioning to typing on the iPad. However, in my experience, students adapt very quickly to typing on the glass. Another observation is that the cord is short. If I wanted to type with my iPad on my desk and the keyboard in my lap, the cord would not be long enough. As an aside, I do realize that proper posture would mean both the iPad and the keyboard would ideally be on a desk or table.

I think the Logitech keyboard is a resource and a tool that is worth having access to in a classroom where writing happens a majority of the time. I have to admit, I did reach down to use the keypad that wasn’t there on my desk when I wanted to highlight something. I had to laugh as it is like me trying to use my fob to open the front door to my house or trying to zoom in on an Instagram photo on my phone. My brain will adjust and catch up eventually!