A Modern-day Viewmaster with a VR Twist. It has potential but is currently a bit limited for K-12 use.
Community Review for Google Cardboard
As Cardboard is relatively new, chances are good that the instructional applications of this will only get better for classroom use; however, in its current "build," it remains a bit limited in what it can do for learning. It does rely upon a smartphone (and you need to be careful about which size you get as some versions won't fit larger sized phones), and it also requires installation of apps on the device (there are some good free ones available). Those are not necessarily deal-breakers but are considerations worth thinking about when planning to use Cardboard with students. For those relying upon iOS devices, the apps available for Cardboard are more limited on iOS than those for Android.
While students can create their own Street View (which is a cool aspect of the Street View app), there is no way to share those files privately or to a shared folder within Google Drive. Having to make something publicly available for others to view could be problematic in terms of student privacy concerns. There are also 360 videos available on YouTube, but for schools or districts where YouTube is blocked, those wouldn't be an option. In addition, there isn't a way currently to only load certain videos for student viewing within the app, and not all of the videos available are appropriate.
At this point, there are some worthwhile apps for virtual experiences, but they are few in number and the creative aspects of Cardboard could be enhanced for K-12 users. It is something worth keeping an eye on as it develops more.
How I Use It
At the time of writing this review, Cardboard would be best used as a way to provide fieldtrip-like experiences virtually using the free Street View app or for specific articles/videos available to build background knowledge in an immersive way. (While the Cardboard app is available for iPads, it's worth noting that the sizes available for Cardboard are restricted to smartphones.) Most of the Cardboard VR app development happening now seems to be targeted for gaming, which makes sense, but the instructional side of VR simulations for education isn't quite there yet. Discovery VR has some limited content available, as does the New York Times VR app. Reviews for both in the iTunes store and GooglePlay are mixed in terms of functionality and use on varied devices.
If studying a certain area or topic, Cardboard could be an engaging way to immerse students; however, it needs more time and development to be truly useful for the K-12 classroom. It defintely has potential, but it is currently rather limited in application.