Virtual Reality is predicted to drastically change many parts of our lives, and is being anticipated to play an important role in education. Google is currently bringing free VR technology and training to one million UK school pupils after launching the Expeditions programme in 2016.
Where it has so far dominated the gaming industry, experts are keen to take VR to the classroom. “Gaming is without doubt the reason most consumers are interested in VR, but this is just the beginning”, said Dean Kramer, director of accessories at Carphone Warehouse.
The Google Expeditions team will be visiting Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Newcastle, and Inverness during the academic year to give students the opportunity to try out the technology for themselves. The aim is for children to engage and learn in an immersive way, improve literacy and writing skills, and complement traditional teaching methods.
In November, Google boss Sundar Pichai UK visited a London school to see students using Google’s Cardboard VR headsets, to experience virtual reality as part of their education.
“Today we are taking a class through one of our new career Expeditions, which inspires students to think about their future professions by taking a virtual trip to work environments like a hospital operating theatre or behind the scenes at Aston Martin” said Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive.
Now pupils at Edmund Rice College in Glengormley, Northern Ireland, are one of the first schools to take part in the project, and Google wants more schools to follow suit and sign up to the free project. Students have been able to see the world, and see inside the human body – all without moving away from their desks.
Although it looks high-tech, the technology used is simple and relatively cheap. Footage is taken using a special camera and then put onto a free app, which can then be downloaded onto a smartphone and viewed using cardboard ‘glasses’.
Aidan Larkin, Year 10 pupil at Edmund Rice College, said: “I’ve been to whole bunches of places – in the ocean, at the solar system, on the moon and seeing the Northern Lights. It’s a lot more fun than just sitting and people talking to you about it.”