Today’s virtual reality (VR) is not to be confused with Second Life, the virtual worlds program developed more than a decade ago by Linden Labs. Today’s VR may represent, however, a second life for all things Internet. An elaborate claim, I know, but I’m dead serious.

While it’s still decidedly experimental, VR today is no longer cost prohibitive. People don’t have to invest in high-end computers and elaborate headgear to experience fully immersive, 360 degree VR. They need nothing more than a smartphone and a viewing device that can be purchased for $10.

My first truly compelling experience with VR was through my Motorola Droid and a Google Cardboard viewer I built myself—along with 50 other people: educators, administrators, designers, and technologists—at the 2015 WCET Annual Conference in Denver. Here’s what that looked like:

Fun, no?

Yes, absolutely. The experience delivered a sense of wonder that will find its way into our classrooms sooner than later. Assembling Google Cardboard was one of the best sessions at the Conference and was a fabulous “tie in” for many of the other sessions, including the general sessions: “We Need to Be Ready for IOT” (Part 1 and Part 2).

Gear VRIf you haven’t been following it, IOT is an acronym for the “Internet of Things,” which refers to the growing list of physical objects that are network-capable, allowing them to send and receive data via wireless technologies and the Internet. And while we’re on the topic of acronyms, WCET is a division of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) and is short for the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies.

The promise of IOT and VR (and its dapper cousin AR—augmented reality) is, as the kids might say, fully “off the hook.” So, my advice to colleges and universities is, as the adults might say, “prepare for the onslaught.” Along with artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and bio-security, IOT and VR have been deemed among the “9 Technologies to Watch in 2016.”

A version of this article was originally published November 20, 2015 on the Chadron State College Teaching & Learning Center Blog.