Oculus has announced a new series of extensions to the company’s outreach program, intended to help people both learn to use and learn while using VR, following the success of the California-specific initiative it launched last year. That includes new pilot programs in one other U.S. city, Seattle, and in both Japan and Taiwan. The latter of those pilots will most closely resemble its previous efforts, with the company opting to donate an unspecified number of its Rift and Go-branded headsets to the country’s Internet and E-Commerce Association (TiEA). Those will be parceled out to various libraries and museums throughout the region and demos will start at those locations at some point this year. The VR company lists a total of ten locations planned, as of this writing, and indicates that each region will determine how the VR can best be used. Oculus says some of the more art-centric locations plan to show off how VR can be used creatively with apps such as Quill or Oculus Medium.
Meanwhile, Japan’s pilot is the newest of the initiatives, applies summarily to high school students in the country, and is still in the very early phases of planning. The current goal is to focus on discovering how VR can be utilized in providing an education at a distance and more general education uses. The first part of that will explore how students that are in remote regions of the country might be able to learn in a more traditional setting through the use of virtual classrooms. However, that also includes an exploration into how to best use the technology as an interactive medium through which to share both homework and course materials.
Last but not least, the Facebook-owned company started its Seattle initiative alongside the start of the U.S. 2018 to 2019 school year. The pilot will take place as a collaborative effort between teachers and students from Ballard High School and Franklin High School, with participants working together to create educational content for VR. At the same time, Oculus has partnered with the Technology Access Foundation in the city as well in a bid to discover better ways to instruct teachers in the use of classroom VR. In fact, each initiative shares that same overarching theme. While VR certainly seems to have a place in formal education and in other training programs, Oculus is undertaking its pilots to effectively both promote its own VR and hopefully push the industry forward. Simultaneously, the company is introducing the technology as a learning tool for those who may not have used it in the past or who might not otherwise get the opportunity.