Google announced that the 2015/16 academic year will bring a virtual reality experience to schools around the world with the launch of its Expeditions Pioneer Program. The kits available to schools, currently for free, include cardboard viewers, ASUS smartphones, a router that enables offline trips, and a tablet for the teacher to lead the tour.
The expeditions use 360-degree views that are put together from Google Street View, and with the help from GoPro, are also using a 16-camera system to create 3D images.
The obvious benefit of these virtual reality school trips is that they can take a whole set of pupils to the other side of the world without ever having to leave the classroom. Google is partnering with establishments across the world to create amazing excursions for children that they might otherwise not have the opportunity to experience. The Planetary Society, Museum of National History and plenty of other institutions are already offering pupils the chance to explore Machu Picchu, Coral Reefs and the surface of Mars!
Teachers can bring the curriculum alive with these kits. Rather than describing an event, or a habitat, teachers can show the pupils exactly what happened, and where. The fact that pupils will be able to visit these places opens up a whole new world of learning opportunities, from creative writing tasks to computer science assignments.
Obviously virtual reality doesn’t offer the same physical experience as a genuine school trip does, but as David Quad, a software engineer of Expeditions says, ‘it gives teachers a tool to take students places a school bus cant’.
Will you be signing up for Expeditions? Where would you like to see your pupils experience? Let us know on Social Media!