Starting this week, Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program, is bringing a virtual reality experience to thousands of schools around the world, stopping in the UK between now and the 27th November.
As part of the programme Google will bring ‘kits’ which contain everything a teacher needs to run a virtual reality trip for their class, containing ASUS smartphones, a teacher tablet, a router that allows Expeditions to run without an Internet connection, and Google Cardboard viewers or Mattel View-Masters that turn phones into virtual reality headsets. This is giving educators the ability to take their students to places a school bus can’t.
Earlier this week, Katrina Roman, Bronx Latin School (New York City), took her class on a trip to ancient Aztec ruins using Google Expeditions. Rather than poring over photocopied photographs, the students stood at the top of Chichen Itza, and examined detailed carvings at Tenochtitlan; setting the lesson abuzz with them shouting about the details they noticed and shot hands up to answer Ms. Roman’s questions.
Google are visiting schools around the world to help teachers learn how to use Expeditions, bringing the kits for teachers to use with their classes for the day. The Google team will be showing teachers how the programme works and how to set it up before class.
The programme currently has a library of over 100 virtual trips, including places like Mars, the Great Wall of China and the Great Barrier Reef, and it is growing with the help of partners such as PBS, David Attenborough and his production company Alchemy VR, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. In addition Google are working with the Starfish Foundation to help students explore future careers by allowing them to experience a virtual day in the life of, such as a veterinarian and computer scientist.
If visiting Mars, trekking on the Great Wall of China or exploring what it’s like to work at a veterinarian’s office sounds like something your class would be interested in, all you need to do is head to the Expeditions Pioneer Program website and sign up.
But, the Expeditions Pioneer Program is only one of the ways that Google is helping teachers engage students. Click here to find out more about Google for Education.