Virtual reality field trips are coming to a school near you — and it’s all thanks to Google.
Earlier this week, the company launched its new 360-degree Expeditions educational virtual reality app, allowing teachers to take their students on VR field trips, courtesy of the search giant’s Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer.
Using Cardboard in conjunction with the new Expeditions Android app, teachers act as “guides” by controlling the VR experience for a classroom of students sharing the same Wi-Fi network. There are already more than 200 different Expeditions which can be taken — with each one curated with integrated descriptions, talking points, and questions. Currently, trips include visits to historical landmarks, diving underwater with sharks, and even journeys into outer space.
If teachers want a more professional version of Expeditions, there are also higher-end pre-made Expeditions Kits, featuring 30 ViewMaster VR viewers, 1 teacher device and more, available for sale through Best Buy for $9,999.
“We’re committed to enhancing students’ digital literacy by providing opportunities to use the latest and greatest tech in the classroom, and this includes one of the year’s most talked about technologies: virtual reality,” a spokesperson for Best Buy tells Digital Trends. “By teaming up with Google for Education to offer Google Expeditions Kits, we’re giving teachers an out-of-the-box ready tool that adds a first-person dimension to their students’ studies.”
While the technology involved with Expeditions isn’t necessarily cutting-edge, it does represent an exciting launch because of what it suggests about the growing mainstream access to VR.
“Google have kept the Expeditions technology deliberately simple in order to ensure its universal accessibility,” Alice Bonasio, a tech strategist and consultant who also blogs about virtual reality and education, tells Digital Trends. “It signals the company’s intention to invest significantly in both VR and EdTech by integrating all its existing products and engaging the millions of teachers who already use Google tools.”
Hey, what kid wouldn’t love a virtual reality field trip? At the very least it means no disappointing packed lunches and someone vomiting on the school bus.