Google has been going full-tilt on their educational efforts for some time now, from specialized Google apps for class to Chromebooks customized for student use. Despite some criticism and controversy, Google has forged on in creating new services for schools. One such service rolled out in May of 2015, called Expeditions, uses Google’s Cardboard platform to give students immersive VR tours of locations they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. With the Expeditions Pioneer Program‘s introduction in September, schools could ask Google to pay them a visit and receive enough kits to immerse entire classes in the same destination at once, as well as some instruction on how to proctor the tours. Over 100 tours in scenic places like Mars and the Great Wall of China were moved within reach of students worldwide. The Pioneer program is currently in pilot status in the United States, Canada and Swedne. Thus far, the program has been considered a runaway success, with over 500,000 students having participated.
Google has announced they are rolling out a dedicated app for Android for the service in order to streamline the experience. Interested educators and administrators can sign up to be authorized to give the new app a spin in beta status. Educators using the app would, from there, use it in class and let Google know how the experience was. Suggestions, bug reports and student input are all welcomed. The beta program is on a limited approval basis, meaning not all schools that apply will receive clearance to download the app or the promise of a visit from a Pioneer Program crew. As the experience is worked on, more and more destinations will be added over time.
On that note, Google announced alongside the dedicated Android app that they would be adding two new destinations. A tour of Buckingham Palace, made in collaboration with the UK’s Royal Collection Trust, is now available, as well as a tour of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef customized by Sir David Attenborough. Of the new destinations, Buckingham Palace is also available for Cardboard users outside of the education sphere through a 360 degree YouTube video.