Google today unveiled an educational initiative that leverages virtual reality and the company’s low-cost Cardboard VR viewers to let teachers take their students on trips around the world as a classroom—they call it ‘Expeditions’.
Virtual reality and education are receiving more and more focus in the VR industry recently, and at their 2015 I/O Keynote today, Google has announced an initiative which uses multiple smartphone powered Google Cardboard viewers to take students on VR trips not possible in reality.
The Google ‘Expeditions’ program is essentially a box of VR equipment, shipped to schools containing everything the class needs to embark on a VR field trip. Cardboard viewers and smartphones for the students are supplied along with a tablet. The tablet is used by the teacher to control a synchronised virtual excursion; when the teacher selects a destination, the entire classroom follows along, in VR.
Clay Bavor, Vice President of Product Management at Google, talking about the project said, “The response from students and teachers has been incredible!” noting that “hundreds of classes around the world have already gone on expeditions” with the system.
To back that up, they showed a video demonstrating the Expeditions package being used by various classrooms around the world, with some touching reactions from students embarking on virtual trips. A teacher says of the system “How much more enriching, than just a picture or having them read about it.” The video really does sell the idea of engaging students with the power of immersive imagery.
Schools wanting to use the system will soon be able to sign up online. Google is also partnering with organisations like the Planetary Society and The Museum of Natural History to bring educational content to the platform. All of this should be available for Fall this year.