Summary of VR4Ed 2021 PD Training

Day 1 Recording
Passcode: Yy7U@B4=

Day 2 Recording
Passcode: 48gb&9d!

Day 1

Challenge Overview

See the details for the 2021 VR4Ed A Day in the Life of a STEM Professional Challenge.

Group Workspaces

We explored difference between the new Group workspaces and the old Edu workspaces.

Afterwards, we took a look at how users can be promoted to Teacher accounts on workspaces.

Before staring to use Blocksmith, we recommend reviewing our best practices for remote learning.

We also took a quick look at how to unlock chapters of a Quest for advanced users.

Brainstorming Session

We found that the best way to get started with the Challenge is to explore and research the responsibilities of the STEM profession first. We also took a look at some existing Blocksmith training experiences such as:
Bank Teller Training
Trench Safety Inspection
Office Interview Scenarios

When you have a foundation of knowledge about the career, start outlining scenes that depict:

  • Emotional aspects of the job
  • "Real-life" challenges that may be frustrating
  • Gamified scenarios where you enact a portion of the job
  • Repetitive tasks that you need to take care of

When you have the outline of the activity created, start assembling the scene in the Blocksmith Builder!

Basic Scene Setup

Use Text Box objects to be able to quickly and easily convey a message. However, we found that they are pretty bland in their basic form, so make sure to use text customization options like font type, color, and more to bring them to life!

Pro Tip: Put Text objects on screen-like surfaces to simulate a computer screen instead of having them float in midair

We next started setting up an indoor Hospital scene to provide more of an immersive feeling. Warning: do not have your students spend too much time on the scene editing/props. The career of the STEM professional should be the focus of their time, not scene editing.

Pro Tip: Use an Indoor Platform to get a scene started quickly

We used the Lab platform combined with shared 3D models to put together a basic hospital scene. Remember to share and publish your 3D models publicly so anyone who is following your workspace can use them too! You can see how to share an experience or model publicly here.

We briefly covered how to use imported 3D models to add details to your scene. If your students have made 3D models using other programs, they can import them into Blocksmith as long as they are in the following file types:

  • .fbx
  • .obj
  • .gltf

Make sure not to use too many imported models as they can severely impact loading times!

Gamified Scene

We ended up putting together a scenario where you measure the temperature of a patient using a laser thermometer. This was accomplished by grouping a few cylinders together, animating one of them as a laser, and then showing a text object whenever the laser animation occurred. The key to making this work was using the laser as a handheld item.

Lastly, we took a look at how to save an experience and how to share it once it is saved.

The sample scene was saved as a template on the VR4Ed 2021 submission workspace. To see and explore the template, just request access to the workspace and then Load the experience in the Builder when you have been accepted as a member!


Web Builder
The web-based version of the Builder is still active. It can be found on your workspace (eg., there is a menu item "Products" which has a sub menu "Downloads" which has the link to the web builder.

Saved Interactive 3D Models
When you save a 3D model and share it, it will still contain all animations and events when used in another project.

Day 2

What Works in VR

We began by looking at polished industry VR training videos, like the Kentucky Fried Chicken! That KFC training can actually be downloaded for free from the Oculus Store, but it only works on Oculus Rift devices. A youtube video of that KFC training is here.

We continued editing the Nurse Training experience. It was saved as a template so anyone can open it.

Interactions in VR

We saw how there two ways to interact with objects in VR:

  1. You can "click" on objects to interact with them, like a button
  2. You can "press" on objects and see them animate, for a deeper level of immersion

A simple interaction event is all that is need for #1. Triggers are required for the approach in #2.

One essential mechanic in both methods is to "toggle" objects on and off. We took a look at the Lifecyle events that can be used to do this in the Builder, such as Activate Object vs. Show Object.

Beautify a Scene

We next started trying to amp up the visual quality of the scene. We saw how to use images and lighting to make a scene look more realistic, and to provide clearer instructions for the user.

We saw that you can use Physics on a pickup item to make it interactable, but also tossable. Could be a fun way to add some "realism" to your training scenario.

Characters and Voiceovers

We finished up the hospital experience by seeing how to make a character speak using a voiceover sound file, and then interacting with them using text boxes. We covered how to upload sound files, open them on a sound component on the character, and then activate the lip sync ability.

We also saw how to make characters walk around a scene either by following the player, wandering around, or chasing an object.

Blocksmith Premium Experiences and Lessons Learned

We were inspired by this blog about if the moon were the size of a pixel, and wanted to create our own VR experience about a similar topic. We explored the following Premium Blocksmith educational experiences and discussed what we found worked well, and what did not:

Solar System at Scale
Fungi Scavenger Hunt
Experience the Water Cycle

The key takeaway lessons are:

  1. Keep your scope simple! It is very easy to start a big project, but much harder to finish it.
  2. Keep text objects in the same position, and with the same rotation throughout the entire experience.
  3. Do not have slow animations that the user must watch while nothing else is going on.
  4. Add voiceovers whenever possible!
  5. When possible, do not allow the player to move. Keep them in one place with elements around them.
  6. Do not use that many imported models, or 360 images/videos since they can bog down your loading times.

Submission Steps

When students are ready to submit their projects, they should first combine their team's creations into one "Master" experience.

After, the user with the Master experience should request access to the VR4Ed 2021 submission workspace.

Then they just need to submit their experience to that workspace! That's all it takes to submit a project for the VR4Ed 2021 challenge.


We discussed briefly what happens when your project idea gets too big.