Using Google Cardboard Compatible HMDs and Spherical Videos for Teaching History to High School Students

Using Google Cardboard Compatible HMDs and Spherical Videos for Teaching History to High School Students

Emmanuel Fokides (University of the Aegean, Greece), Eleni Polydorou (University of the Aegean, Greece) and Panos Mazarakis (University of the Aegean, Greece)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJSEUS.2020100102
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The study presents the results from a project in which subjects related with history were taught to high school students using spherical videos, viewed by means of smartphones and Google Cardboard compatible HMDs. The target group was One hundred five 14-15 years old students, divided into three groups. The first used printed material, the second web pages, and the third the HMDs. The project lasted for 12 two-teaching-hours sessions (for for each tool), and data were collected using evaluation sheets and a questionnaire for recording student views and attitudes. The results suggested that students who used the HMDs outperformed students who used the other tools. All tools were considered equally effective and the participating students considered the web pages as easier to use. Then again, the combination of spherical videos, smartphones, and HMDs was more enjoyable and motivating. Though the findings highlighted the educational potential of spherical videos when viewed through HMDs, they also point to the need for finding innovative teaching methods/frameworks for better exploiting their potential.
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The study of history is essential in a democracy, as it allows citizens to reach an understanding of the society they live in, of the human relations through the course of time, and of the reasons things do not remain static (Bradley Commission on History in the Schools, 1989). History education provides the context within which citizens, by drawing knowledge from the past, can shape their decisions for the present. To achieve that, certain skills and patterns of mind are required, such as (i) to perceive the events as they were experienced/perceived by the people of the time these events took place, (ii) to be able to constructively question, debate upon, and interpret past texts and artifacts, and (iii) to understand that our views for historical events are constantly evolving depending on the available sources and their interpretations (National Council for History Education, n.d.). Then again, it seems that conventional teaching methods (e.g., lecturing) and tools (e.g., printed material), have failed to achieve the above. Students not only have trouble understanding the importance of historical events, but they also find the teaching of history boring and with little relevance to their interests (Angeli & Tsaggari, 2016; Barton & Levstik, 2004). Consequently, new teaching tools and methods are needed for raising students' interest in history and for achieving better learning outcomes.

Videos are widely used as entertaining media as well as educational tools. Much of their success is attributed to the fact that viewers get emotionally involved with what they see (Carr-Chellman & Duchastel, 2001). Then again, videos have certain limitations that do not allow them to become even more interesting or effective. One such is that viewers are confined to a single point-of-view; they cannot view the video content from a different angle/perspective. Yet, another form of videos, known as 360o or spherical videos (SVs), surpasses this limitation. SVs are recorded using panoramic cameras able to capture images from a whole sphere and not just from a limited field of view. They can then be displayed in computers, smartphones, or head-mounted displays (HMDs). In case of the two latter devices, the viewers can turn their heads in any direction they like and watch the portion of the SV corresponding to the direction they “see.” The dynamic nature of SVs is further enhanced with the use of embedded hotspots that can trigger events/interactions (e.g., the display of images, text, and regular videos). Because of the realism and the innovative way the content is displayed, SVs are increasingly used in areas such as engineering and health sciences and for the presentation of cultural events, museums, and historical sites. They also found their way in education. In this case, the relevant research reported promising learning outcomes (e.g. Pham et al., 2018), a positive impact on motivation to learn, as well as elevated levels of enjoyment when learning (e.g., Lee et al., 2017; Xie et al., 2019).

In light of the above, it was considered interesting to examine whether the above positive effects resulting from the educational use of SVs can also be achieved when teaching history-related subjects. Thus, a project was implemented, having as an objective to comparatively examine the learning outcomes from the use of SVs, web pages, and printed material. Details for the project are presented in the coming sections.

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