January 26, 2016
Google has released a beta Android app for its Google Expeditions Pioneer Program that allows educators to bring their students on a virtual reality field trip. The VR content includes immersive educational experiences in locations such as Machu Picchu, Mars, the Great Barrier Reef and Buckingham Palace. Students use Google Cardboard headsets to view the content while the teacher can use a tablet to guide their students through the location and monitor where each student is looking.
Prior to the launch of the app, access to Google’s educational VR program was limited to the schools chosen for class visits through the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program. A team from Google would come out to the school with all of the necessary VR equipment and help demo the exclusive app. The program was very popular; over 500,000 students have already participated in the pilot program.
The beta version of the app is available for teachers and schools. They can’t exactly download the app immediately. Educators who want to try the VR app will have to sign up to become a beta tester and then Google will send the link to download it.
The expeditions are geared toward elementary school students, but the app allows them to tour the locations at their own pace. The Great Barrier Reef and Buckingham Palace experiences are new additions to the app, reports Wired. Google has partnered with organizations like the American Museum of Natural History and PBS to create these VR field trips.