Google emerged with a mission to organize all the world’s information and making it accessible at one platform. It is only befitting for them to have taken a step ahead with their tremendous source of information and lead the innovation in immersive education with the help of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies. Having successfully served over 2 million students across different countries, Google Expeditions has already been creating success waves during its Pioneer Program. More than the fact that students have shown great excitement to experience the technology, Expeditions have remarkably strengthen their learning abilities and information retention level by providing an immersive environment for exploration and inquisition. Where on one hand, students get to learn more comprehensively than any conventional method could offer before, Expeditions also help teachers teach better by igniting students’ natural curiosity and getting them interested in their lessons. Since the way Expeditions work differs from showing mere photos or videos as the students have to turn their heads and eyes to view scenes, students get to “experience” their lesson rather hence the term “experiential learning”.
Now for students in the Middle East and North African region, the year 2018 has a big agenda in store for them as VRXOne, by Munfarid Consulting, plans to take Google Expeditions to millions of students in the coming year. The students here will be able to experience the kits in their classrooms. We had a chance to meet a lot of students at different events and register their immediate response but we are taking the Expeditions to them now to get an even detailed introduction with the technology. This is a great opportunity for students as well as institutes to be able to take part in this program by Google Expeditions where they share their copyrighted content with a million students for first-hand experience.
Google Expeditions use VR technology to create virtual field trips where students can be transported to essentially any location for exploration and learning purposes – be it sea life, Mount Everest or the inside of the human body. Expeditions have rapidly evolved over the period of two years by constant experimentation and research pilot studies in innovative immersive education.
It is important for educators, new to the VR technology, to understand that Google Expeditions promote the idea of embodied, immersive learning revolutionizing education by incorporating our entire bodies within the learning process. The immersive, virtual simulations allow us to be physically involved with the virtual objects and experience the situation which helps instill a sense of deeper embodied cognition capturing both the imagination and reflexive responses of an individual.
Embodied Cognition theorists opine that the humans use their bodies as well as surrounding environments to perceive, learn and think. This offers huge implications for VR technology in education and training as it provides both — a more engaging simulative environment for learning purpose as well as a control of the virtual environment by making it optimized for physical interactivity.
Luckily this amazing technology is by no means limited to education as it steps into the industrial realm for training and development solutions. VR technology is already being used in architecture, tourism, military and entertainment industries as well as progressively finding its way within the medical, engineering, real estate and retail sectors. In the Middle East, Munfarid Consulting has showcased VR technology in various events in the current – Worldskills Competition 2017, Bahrain Entrepreneurship Week, Education Experts Conference, to name a few – and the response we have received has been nothing short of splendid. Representatives from different industries, government officials, experts and general public have all shown great interest and appreciation for the future of VR technology.
The year 2017 itself overall has been indeed very promising for VR as the spending on the technology has doubled up from $6.1 billion in 2016 to $13.9 billion this year [link]. Virtual reality headset sales are actually projected to double every year until it reaches a saturation point around 2025 (trojanvr.com). The app for Google Cardboard has been downloaded over 10 million times and the total number of virtual reality users is expected to reach 171 million by 2018 [link].
The worldwide VR software and hardware market size is expected to reach a whopping $41.5 billion by 2020 [link]. These are huge statistics for VR technology promising significant developments and bright future for the technology just round the corner.
The purpose of learning is to impart a clear and concise explanation of concepts. For considerable learning to happen, a student must be through with the LOs (learning objectives), able to find the real-life relevance of the lesson, and should be confident at consolidating learning during the plenary time.
If we look closely, every classroom is like a rainbow; a synergy of students possessing different mindsets and coming from discrete backgrounds. To deliver a learning lesson alike to every student might be an impediment to learning because they all progress at a different rate and perceive differently.
Student autonomy is hence, a proactive parameter of classroom progress. It is nothing but the process of making every student audacious enough to take charge of their individual learning and find logic and reason in lessons.
Student autonomy is synonymous with fearless learning.
Condemning the pedagogical practice where students are force-fed rote learning, Virtual Reality expeditions by Google are an incredible means of keeping student interests first. Every expedition is a creative way to absorb learning and easily retain it. Rather than having a series of photos that students might find monotonous, virtual reality used in education proves its credence to students by offering what they love – imagination.
Here’s a Round-Up of WHY students love VR in Classroom and the Reason it Makes Them Independent Learners:
The challenge of most classrooms is that the students cram the lessons but do not understand whether and how they would be deployed in real-life. Many know the lesson by heart but struggle at realizing the purpose of learning. How successful is that?
With VR, students know what to expect. They can decide their own learning objectives gauging their interest and previous progress. With a clear consolidation of previous learning and a precise picture of what is to be learnt in the next lesson, students can trace their growth on tangible skills and define their learning curve. They become aware, agile, and active.
They can be proud of mistakes:
The best part about VR is that you can redo it, you can replay it anytime. VR lessons allow students to go back and track their mistakes and take the lesson again. Attempting an expedition repeatedly till they’re confident of the concept helps them concede that mistakes are the stepping stone to learning and getting over them is easy.
Since it is a private lesson, students can be free and more confident. They don’t have to fear judgment. They don’t have to fear failure. They can practice, practice & practice until prepared.
They are the decision makers:
VR gives the students an opportunity to choose their lessons. Through Google Expeditions, they can learn history, biology, or geography through open-ended assignments and projects.
With VR lessons, each student decides his own pace and atop is the teacher, in charge of an observation panel where student activity can be reviewed.
The happiness of learning:
Inspiration is a magic element. The dearth of it can put any bright student off the track and abundance of it can induce eagerness for learning in any struggling student.
The aim of teaching is not to make ‘perfect’. Its aim is progress. It is not the learning of concepts that matters but the impact that it has on our social skills, confidence, attitude, and behavior.
VR is a transformational classroom tool that adds all these qualities to a student’s persona. By inspiring pupils, VR makes them positive for learning. When there is will to learn, skill will spontaneously follow.
Virtual Reality can be a best friend to every student. Munfarid Consulting, a Bahraini organization is determined to bring this positive classroom change where students can befriend education and look forward it.
As a part of its Go-to school program, co-founder Munfarid, Dr. Sana Farid along with her team is taking bundles of joy to GCC schools. Being the official Google Expeditions partner in the Middle East, Dr. Sana is showing VRXOne to students of these schools as a part of their go-to school program, highlighting the importance of virtual reality in edtech. For this unique initiative, the team plans to show VR to 1 million students in GCC and the rest of Middle East.
Initiatives like this and others of similar stature will propel the students towards growth mindset. Let’s define education in the new light of VR.
While women in business is a glorious reality, women in tech are taking up creative, strong jobs that substantiate the field. Many powerful women leaders of the world are established ‘tech women’. Take for instance the case of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg who has been named the most powerful woman in technology on the Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women list, the fifth year in a row.
A career in technology is not merely working for a tech giant. With new frontiers, there are latest innovations to explore and women are marking their presence in the field. Internet of things, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning are the buzzwords for which many women are working, some on the frontend and a few in the backyard. Working in technology sector means learning the nuts and bolts of a male-dominated industry, but so is the case with most other fields.
The technology available to us right now is exhilarating. And also overwhelming is the pace at which it is growing. Smart home tech is an innovation under pipeline through which tons of appliances will be integrated into a seamless and unified network. With Apple, Google and Amazon showing a keen interest in developing the technology, good news is awaited. A Twitter thread asked, “Who are some women of IoT”. An interesting Twitter thread in itself, it caught the attention of many, to an extent that someone suggested to enlist the women working for tech in a Google docs sheet.
Early stage devices for supreme level VR and AR have also set the pitch right. Pokemon GO, based on AR, had over a 100 million downloads! That’s terrific to say the least. AR and VR versions of technically everything will be seen around. Rachel Rubin Franklin is the head of social VR at Facebook. Having launched various interactive products, she has a massive experience of 20 years in the field. With great liking for video games and VR, Franklin developed an interest in the field at a tender age, while playing games on her father’s computer.
Other women in AR, VR tech are Kimberly Cooper, CEO and co-founder of Spatialand, an innovative VR platform and toolkit, and Christine Lee, the vice president and general manager of global business development at Immersv, a mobile VR and 360 video advertising company.
While women education is a very stressed upon topic, women empowerment has also opened room for discussion to have working women in different fields. While more homemakers are turning into women techmaker, the trend is brisk. Jobs in technology are creative, contrary to the stereotypical belief of geeky. Coding, digital marketing, engineering are some fields where creativity meets intelligence. More women are realizing that they don’t need a background to have their start-ups or take up lead positions in companies.
Let us hope that the next generation of talent witnesses the rise of women leaders who do not limit themselves or conform to the gender roles set by the society. Until then, let’s support the current steps of change.
After the industrial age and information age, the world is entering yet another transformation brought about by the innovative and immersive technologies i.e. Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (Ai). Just like other advanced nations worldwide, the Middle East – particularly the Persian Gulf states – is also at the forefront of this transformation encouraging the use of these modern technologies across different sectors such as VR in education, healthcare, real estate, tourism, corporate and government.
Many VR related ventures have come forth in the Middle East in recent years but Bahrain-based Munfarid Consulting is one of the most prominent in the VR market with specialization in the implementation frameworks and consultancy in AR/VR/Ai for the corporate, non-corporate and government sectors. Munfarid has recently signed an accord with BTECH for mutual cooperation and become a full member organization of Bahrain Technology Companies Society (BTECH). BTECH was established with the government’s vision to improve, enhance and build upon the economic efficiency of the country and provide a competitive environment for ICT entrepreneurs and startups to grow and excel at a regional as well as international level.
Munfarid has been at the forefront of many government initiatives and has received much appreciation and encouragement for their dynamic efforts and unique offering at a number of platforms such as Worldskills Competition 2017, Bahrain Entrepreneurship Week, Education Experts Conference, Edutech Middle East 2017, to name a few. Sharing a common vision to maximize the scope of immersive technologies in education and training in the Middle East, Munfarid and Google Expeditions have been putting in joint efforts since March 2017, and next year they are going bigger with the VRXOne go-to-school program aimed at running a million Expeditions revolutionizing the school education in the Middle East.
“Confident that the BTECH affiliation will add to Munfarid’s growing reputation and bring more recognition for the company” said Dr. Sana Farid during the accord signing ceremony. “Munfarid has huge plans to contribute to the technological front of the country with its AR/VR/Ai aided training programs designed to enhance the learning capabilities of the youth both in educational and corporate sectors as well as further help to align strategies for technology aided, performance enhancement solutions for both government and non-government organizations” expressed Mr. Ubaydli the chairman of Bahrain Technology Companies Society.
About Munfarid :
Munfarid Consulting is a Bahrain based innovation company offering wide range of training opportunities and consultancy in immersive AR/VR/Ai technologies. Munfarid specializes in providing incisive learning strategies, operational management and customizable technology aided performance solutions enabled by Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence technologies to government, non-governmental and corporate sector organizations.
About BTECH :
BTECH is a non-profit entity and the leading Bahraini organization supporting the local ICT companies to grow and excel through different stages of development, elevating the statuesque of the sector and contributing to enhance the presence of Bahrain’s IT industry at regional and international levels, increasing its contribution to national output.
It hasn’t been long since the virtual reality (VR) technology market was officially launched, but it has been quickly embraced by different industrial sectors such as retail, aviation, manufacturing, medical, military and education – not only for its cost-effectiveness and efficiency in training solutions but also because of the immense potential it offers in research and development. The tech companies are hard-bent upon realizing the full potential of this technology, but even so the VR is still in its initial developmental stages.
An artificial, computer-generated receptive environment that immerses the user by projecting three-dimensional images simulating life-sized appearance from the perspective of the user, and employing the ability to track user’s motions, particularly the head and eye movements, to adjust the changes in the visual field accordingly. The technology is immediately adaptable to the challenges in education as well as training and development. But it grows from there into all the areas of development from research to design to final accomplishment, capable of changing the way people and businesses learn, work and interact, very soon.
History of vr technology
Admittedly, one of the hottest technologies today, Virtual Reality is certainly not a new concept. The notion of an illusive theater space with characters and objects, goes back generations when it was first mentioned in 1938 by a playwright Antonin Artaud in a series of essays as “la realite virtuelle”. Later translated in English in 1958, the essay series was called “The Theater and its Double”, marking the first published use of the term “virtual reality” (link).
However, the real work on this technology began much later and the first multimedia device was actually invented in 1957 (as per the Virtual Reality Society) for an interactive theater experience, called Sensorama. This interactive theater involved the use of a viewing screen that displayed stereoscopic images within an enclosed booth, audio output and devices that emitted smells. By 1968, VR technology featured a head-mounted display connected to a computer. Being extremely heavy, the head-mounted gear had to be attached to a suspension device.
1980s brought the use of VR in NASA projects and in research meant to explore new alleyways for human-computer interaction. The research and development in virtual reality continued through the 1990s but did not come to much fruition resulting in lost interest for lack of any practical advancements in the technology. However, during the previous decade the interest in VR technology saw a revival, and the introduction of the first prototype of the Oculus Rift prompted it even further. Not much later, the next-generation game developer Valve introduced their low-persistence displays in 2013, featuring a lag-free experience and smear-free display for consuming VR content.
The last few years have seen some major developments in the VR technology with significant focus on high-quality imaging, tracking enablement, low latency, high resolution, light-weight gear, and reduced cost. Today the technology has become much more immersive in nature offering close-to-reality experience. Although, the researchers keep pursuing the development of more and more lifelike simulations capable of offering increasingly realistic visuals and better user experiences.
VR technology Milestones in the year 2017
Although the modern developments in VR technology have claimed several years for it to take its current form, 2017 has been the real breakthrough year for VR. This is so because it was during this year that VR has attained prominence as a true revolutionary technology, and has found its role across different industries on much more wider scale than ever before.
Let us look at what VR technology looks like today and how it is changing the way people and businesses experience virtual space.
The virtual space has become much more lifelike offering an extremely realistic experience due to low latency, high-end visuals and greater interactivity. The virtual experience is purpose-bound towards achieving touch as well as smell sensations.
Light Weight Equipment
The modern VR headgear is much lighter in weight compared to its initial versions and easier to operate. However, the companies are working on making them even lighter for the users’ comfort.
The cost of the actual VR gear has significantly come down making it expansively available for commercial use. However, due to the added cost of the powerful computing systems, the overall cost of the equipment is somewhat high. But the major tech companies are working on fully operational all-in-one VR systems that will further bring down the costs to a few hundred dollars within next few years.
This is kind of a packaged deal having the most high-tech processors for a smooth, hiccup free digitally generated environment. The high-resolution imagery, with the top-notch sensors and audio devices, it is essential to have first-rate computing power and processing capabilities for the new powerful hardware and software.
VR shopping experience
The retail sector has come forward to really embrace the VR technology offering virtual shopping experiences to customers. This has gone on from virtually test-driving cars to walking about shopping malls into real estate sector to look at desired properties.
The first ever Virtual Reality Cinema opened its doors to the public this year in Amsterdam, introducing 360-degree cinematic displays, a new age for the cinema experience.
As the research and development in VR technology is making headways, the big tech companies are finding it necessary to form more strategic alliances in order to share their expertise and knowledge with one another and come up with improved solutions and better offerings.
VR has always been associated to the gaming industry more than any other sector. The game developers have surely put new edge into gaming by combining the competitive and somatic nature of traditional sports and integrating it into the digital realm.
The thing about VR technology is that it offers a completely different reality from one’s own physical environment where they are able to interact with objects and simulated space without the fear of any harm or damage. It even offers experiences that are either not physically possible like walking under water or on the surface of Mars. Or relive historical moments or explore remote places without having to travel. As much as the VR reality offers today, we have only scratched the tip of the iceberg. Time will only tell what more avenues lay unexplored below the surface. But for now, we can’t wait for the latest developments to come through that we have discussed so that the VR technology will become more accessible for everyone, everywhere.