Following James’ visit to BETT 2017, he managed to arrange a visit to school from Google Expeditions. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Expeditions, its a free VR app available on Android and iOS which is designed to work with Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard is a low-end VR device, made of cardboard which works with a smartphone.
Together we took over two Junior School classrooms for the day, armed with about sixty Asus devices and Cardboards, a couple of Android tablets, two routers and an army of charger cables.
In half hour or so sessions, we took the whole Junior School (Years 3 to 6) and some volunteer sixth formers through immersive 360 degree images of the International Space Station, volcanoes of the world, Barcelona, Egypt, Beijing, the Great Wall of China, the Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica and rainforests.
It was amazing to hear their reactions, bowled over by how immersive they found it. They reached out instinctively to touch penguins only to find their adjacent classmates, gasped at how high they were in space over the Great Barrier Reef.
Each individual Google Cardboard and Asus device allowed the student wearing it to look in any direction they chose, while we ‘drove’ the experience from the tablet. We were able to access more information about each scene, point items out (the students saw arrows guiding them to the targets) and stop and start the experience for everyone. We could see where they were looking at any point with a swarm of smilie face icons.
The girls didn’t want to stop exploring, and it was hard to prise their teachers away from the same to come and try controlling the expedition!
As snow fell outside the classroom window, it didn’t quite compare to the Antarctic Expedition scenes inside. Proof it was a truly unusual day for all.