Evidently happy with the way its virtual reality Expeditions program for classrooms is panning out, Google said Monday it’s taking the scheme to more schools in cities across the U.S. – including Portland, Orlando, New Orleans, and Las Vegas – while outside the U.S. it’s coming for the first time to schools in Canada, Denmark, and Singapore – it’s already being used by educators in the U.K., Australia, and Brazil.
For those not in the know, Expeditions lets students go on faraway field trips to places like Antarctica, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Borneo Rainforest – places that most school buses have no hope of ever reaching.
The virtual trips are made possible with a special classroom kit that includes ASUS smartphones, Google Cardboard viewers to transform the phones into VR headsets, a tablet allowing the teacher to conduct the VR tours, and a router that lets Expeditions function without an Internet connection.
A growing library of tours are offered, with around 120 available at the current time. They’ve been created by the likes of educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, British documentarian David Attenborough and his production company Alchemy VR, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Some of the imagery included in the tours has been taken from Google’s huge collection of 360-degree Street View material.
Google launched the scheme in the fall following a successful pilot program, and the Web giant says that so far more than 100,000 students have used the kit in class.
In a post announcing the program’s expansion, Expeditions product manager Ben Schrom said the the response from students has so far been “overwhelmingly positive,” adding that it’s “helping students gain a deeper understanding of the world beyond the classroom and imagine endless possibilities for their future roles within it.”
With all that fun kit available, and plenty of exotic faraway places to explore, we can well imagine Expeditions is proving a hit with not only students, but teachers too.
Educators interested in trying out Expeditions can sign up their school for consideration here.