VR education: Google Expeditions is transporting school kids all over the world - with a little help from virtual reality.
Were you an art student wowed by Barcelona’s architecture? A budding scientist inspired by Switzerland’s CERN?
Perhaps you are now a historian who is still moved by the memory of visiting France’s Somme battlefields.
School trips are powerful, educational tools that shape the adults we grow into.
Not every school has enough funding to take students away on site visits however. And not every parent can afford costly travel fees.
That’s why we think it’s amazing that in just a few months, half a million British students have travelled the world in virtual reality.
All with the help of Google Expeditions.
Google Expeditions has helped transport 500,000 schoolchildren on virtual field trips, it announced this week.
The educational platform launched in the UK last autumn, allowing schoolkids to experiencing hundreds of the world’s most incredible destinations, from the awe-inspiring Egyptian pyramids, to the deep underwater ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands.
The very nature of virtual reality also means that a new generation of students have visited places that weren’t previously even physically possible: classes of bold explorers have been inside the human body, to unexplored of outer space.
All teachers have needed to make these flights of fancy possible, are school-owned smartphones and cheap Google Cardboard headsets.
Institutions can now also invest in special Google Expeditions virtual reality kits (but these cost about £4,500 for 10 students).
To mark the milestone, Google has now added a further 58 virtual destinations to its catalogue of trip, providing students and teachers with more than 500 Expeditions to choose from.
A new partnership with the British Museum will allow kids to explore the Mayan Ruins of Quiriguá, Guatemala; while a project with the National Trust for Scotland will let students tour a Victorian era printing factory.
This isn’t just about giving children the opportunity to see new sights, it’s about embracing new (or lost) cultural experiences, Google said in its announcement:
“Vikings: Way of the Warrior lets students join with the legendary Norsemen while they’re worshipping Odin, hunting, and telling tall tales in the mead hall.”
Nothing beats the excitement of experiencing the wonders of the world first-hand. But if you can’t take the classroom to Mount Everest, teachers can now bring the mountain to them.
Virtual reality is opening the world up – and inspiring young minds along the way.
Sign up to bring Google Expeditions to your school.
Kitty Knowles is a Senior Features Writer at The Memo. Kitty previously worked as an online journalist for GQ. She can be found tweeting @KittyGKnowles.