Google Helping Education With Free Virtual Reality Systems

AH Google IO 2014 Cardboard 3 of 4

Google’s Cardboard is the closest you can get to Virtual Reality without making a hole in your pocket. And Google wants everyone to experience Virtual Reality, especially students, who take the most interest in upcoming technology, and Virtual Reality is the next big thing that looks about to go commercial in a big way. Most of the success of Virtual Reality devices depend on the quality of content created by the producers and the directors. If they are immersive and impressive, Virtual Reality is likely to change perspectives in a significant manner.

Education is one such part of life that Virtual Reality can impact like this. It’s no surprise that audiovisual lectures are more useful than books and print media could ever be. Virtual Reality is slowly but surely penetrating education as a whole. And now to increase its presence, Google is offering a program called Expedition, which includes a kit comprising of an Asus Zenphone 2, a tablet for the teacher, Cardboard or Mattel View-Master viewers and a router in case Expedition needs to be run offline. This program allows Google to create a buzz around students, also helping them promote the concept of Virtual Reality and introducing them to do-it-yourself kits. While also ensuring Google’s presence in educational systems around the globe. The project was unwrapped in May coinciding with the launch of a new cardboard that supports iOS along with Android.

Google is partnering with content providers like PBS, Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, The Planetary Society and The Wildlife Conservation Society for the VR expeditions to places ranging from the Great Barrier Reef to Mars. Google is also flaunting the new 16 camera GoPro rig, and its Streetview footage as part of the program. Even though the program is free for now, the devices are provided as a loan, and charges might apply later, according to Google’s product manager for Google Apps for Education. The pilot program will kick off in schools from Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and finally the United States.

Google started influencing education with technology in 2006, with the Apps for Education program, and the introduction of the Classroom app last year. A lot of companies have contributed ever since, like Microsoft with Skype and a host of other software. Facebook also announced plans to work with Summit Public Schools in California. Even though the idea of virtual field trips in classrooms isn’t novel, with Skype video conferencing service making that possible, Google’s initiative is much more immersive.