What is Google Cardboard?
Google Cardboard is a phone application that enables the user to turn their smart phone into a virtual reality device.
Watch this video for a demonstration of how Google Cardboard appears to the viewer.
How does Google Cardboard work?
Here is a video on how the Google Cardboard viewer, in combination with the Google Cardboard application, utilizes the capabilities of a smart phone to create virtual worlds.
So, now that we know what it is and how it works…
How to Start Using Google Cardboard
To begin using Google Cardboard you need three things:
1. A smart phone
Google Cardboard works with smart phones that have screens up to 6 inches.
2. Google Cardboard application
Currently, Google Cardboard operates on both Android and iOS devices and is available on Google Play and the iOS App Store.
Google Cardboard for Android can be found here.
Google Cardboard for iOS can be found here.
3. A Google Cardboard viewer
For this, you have two options.
I. Make your own Google Cardboard viewer.
II. Buy a Google Cardboard viewer
Here you can find several different styles of Google Cardboard viewers that have been certified by Google as being wholly compatible with the Google Cardboard application.
Once you have the tools needed, Google Cardboard becomes an amazing tool for exploration and discovery. Watch the short video below for a quick tutorial on how to use your phone, the viewer, and the Cardboard application to begin exploring virtual worlds.
What are the Pros and Cons of using Google Cardboard?
For a tech centered review, watch this video.
However, as someone immersed in the world of education I am more concerned with the pros and cons of using this technology in a classroom setting. Therefore, I will give my own personal opinion about using Google Cardboard for classroom instruction.
I think the pros of this technology and the impact it can have on developing classroom instruction are pretty obvious. First, after Google released this technology thousands of VR videos began to flood Youtube (Access 360° VR videos here). The videos available enable a teacher to take their students on a VR tour of any National Park, an African savanna, and countless museums and monuments. However, I think the most groundbreaking impact that this technology can have in education is the ability of teachers to inform their students about social issues affecting our world. With this technology has come VR 360° Reality Reporting. History teachers can now take their students to an Essyan refugee camp (see here), experience the Battle for Northern Syria (see here), or take the journey to Mecca (see here). I think this is possibly the most important impact this technology could have on education–informing American citizens.
The biggest con here is access to technology. Many students may not have a smart phone and, even if every student did have a smart phone, the teacher would need to have enough viewers for every student. A possible solution to this problem would be to have a VR center that students can visit, then it would be possible to access this technology with only one or two smart phones. On the same note, some students may not be able to access the technology (regardless of availability) because they experience motion sickness. I have found, however, that these videos can be viewed from a desktop, laptop, or tablet which cuts down on the motion sickness.
Another con is that while this technology offers a multitude of experiences that can be educational, it also offers a multitude of experiences that are far less than educational. The Youtube 360° channel is imbedded in the Google Cardboard app and as a result students would have access to all videos available on the Youtube 360° channel. This is a problem because some of the videos uploaded could be considered violent or sexual in nature and, as a teacher, you have no concrete way of regulating the videos students have access to if you want to use the Google Cardboard application. However, it is possible to forego the Cardboard app. Instead teachers could either have students access a classroom site that had access to only those videos deemed appropriate, or teachers could build their own app and embed whichever videos they wanted (for how to build an app see here and for how to embed video in an app see here). The down side to this is that students or teachers would have to start the video before placing the phone into the viewer.
Bringing Google Cardboard to the Classroom
Currently, Google is making an effort to introduce Google Cardboard to schools across the globe. The Google Expeditions Pioneer Program is a platform specifically designed for using virtual reality in the classroom. Very limited information is available about Google Expeditions, but Google is volunteering to (free of charge) visit classrooms in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil and introduce them to Expeditions. They will bring with them an “Expeditions Kit”, which includes Google Cardboard viewers pre-assembled with smart phone devices, and they will train teachers and students in how to use the devices.
(Photo at beginning of page is courtesy of developers.google.com)
11 BEST Google Cardboard VR games/apps 2015 [Video file]. Retrieved from
CNET How To – How to use Google Cardboard 2.0 [Video file]. Retrieved from
Expediitons: Take your students to places a school bus can’t [Video file]. Retrieved from
Google Cardboard: How it works! [Video file]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxAj2lyX4oU
NEW Google Cardboard 2.0 2015 Unboxing and Review! [Video file]. Retrieved from