Virtual reality for Special Education Needs

Working with Special Education Needs can be very heartening, though its not difficult to imagine the multiple challenges faced by their  instructor. Students with cognitive, intellectual, mental, or other disabilities often deficit communication skills, apart from difficulty in concentration, focus, and expression. For our quest to contribute to enhance learning practices, we have experienced how Virtual Reality is one revolutionary method in special education in many aspects.

 

Increasingly being recognized as an effective tool for its rehabilitation abilities for cognitive processes and functional aspects, Virtual Reality (VR) provides special needs students with opportunities to improve their intellectual and motor skills within the safe powerful simulated virtual environments. Given that the students with special needs are limited in their ability to explore their surrounding and extended environments, VR affords them the opportunity to discover the world in fascinating virtual environments where they are able to swim with the sharks or fly in the clouds, go on space excursion and even travel to planet Mars, sounds like an exciting classroom.

 

This is what VRXOne is going to be showcasing at the most awaited annual Bahrain Summer Festival where Nakhool Tent is opened to the families for participation in many cultural events, educational activities and entertainment programs. Bringing “Google Expeditions for Special Education Needs” to the event, the program will be held in association with the Bahrain Association for Parents and Friends of the Disabled, which is known in the region for its brilliant contribution towards the well-being and welfare of special needs students and their families through a number of interactive events, lectures, learning activities as well as cultural celebrations.

 

Just last year, the Association awarded Dr. Sana Farid, the AR/VR/Ai and Simulation expert at VRXOne and Co-founder & CEO of Munfarid Consulting, for her efforts and training workshops in Technology Aided Learning & Development for the Disabled, and Assistive Technology. Her ongoing efforts for the cause are manifest through VRXOne’s One Million VR Expeditions program in the Middle East with a special focus on Special Education Needs.

 

Since the use of virtual environments for special needs is as diverse as the field of Special Education itself, VR offers many benefits for students with disabilities including the ability to be adaptable and controllable as per the needs of an individual student, making it all the more ideal for special education purposes. What’s even more exciting is that beyond merely providing the chance to explore and learn about places, things, processes and subjects, VR even helps equip students with life skills by simulating training environments that assist in highlighting and focusing on individual strengths, abilities and learning preferences outside of their real world disabilities.

What this does for a special needs students is essentially huge in terms of a remarkable change in their self-confidence, self-esteem and ultimately serving to transform them into contributing citizens in the society. Ms. Abla Ahmed Mohamed, the Head of Activities and Projects Committee at the Bahrain Association of Parents and Friends of the Disabled, is certainly positive about the impact of VR in a special needs classroom, “The impact of VR on special needs is fascinating. Watching students with various disabilities being able to travel the world in minutes, is very uplifting. VR is definitely going to enable them to do a lot.”

 

On the part of teachers, VR helps them engage their students more comprehensively and provide them with a highly tempting learning environment, further assisting with communication skills especially when it comes to inclusive classrooms where teachers face one of the most challenging test of their jobs. Also facilitating an improved and much more organized form of interaction, VR enables the teachers to view live feed of what each student is looking at and discuss or ask questions about their experience and their personal focus. This is just the beginning for far more personalized learning opportunities for special needs students.

 

Evidently, engaging students with intellectual or other disabilities is not an easy task. The increasingly accessible and affordable virtual reality-based methods provide an ideal framework as an educational and training medium for them and developing their hidden talents into useful, practical strengths. No words can describe the happiness felt by the special children – and the satisfaction gained by the enablers – when their dreams come true through a simulated environment whether it is a dream to visit the pyramids, go for a hike on top of the highest mountains or just watch dinosaurs come alive from billions of years ago.

Google Expeditions Field Trip App Now Brings AR Tours, 100+ Lessons Available

Google Expeditions AR is here – a news of delight for AR aficionados.

Exactly one year ago, Google in its developers’ conference, IO 2017 had announced the launch of expeditions in Augmented Reality.

After 12 months of developments, testing, and improvements, Google has finally included the AR tech in its Google expeditions application. During this time, the developers at Google partnered with EdTech experts, teachers and students in different schools, taking their advice and feedback to perform the beta testing of this revolutionary technological advance.

The testing was carried under the AR pioneer program where over 1 million students participated enthusiastically.

So what if you are already using expeditions VR at your school?

Isn’t that enough immersion and/or insight?

Should you be excited?

Here’s a simple answer.

Decades ago, we used to have log tables to simplify and drastically speed up computation. Then came the calculators which simplified the process of understanding and reaching the results exponentially.

The technology behind a calculator and AR is poles apart.

However, they’re alike in a sense – they both make education easier.

So when a student embarks on a journey through Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, he dons a VR headset and looks around to feel the immersion.

It doesn’t matter whether he is a water enthusiast or not, he will be fascinated with the underwater journey along the largest living structure on the planet and one of the natural wonders of the world. Plunging into the awe-inspiring coral reef environment and meeting its fascinating marine creatures – and that too as a part of a classroom lesson – indeed ‘educating’.

Interestingly, through the window of AR, he can do more.

He can bring the corals to his classroom & pan at them closely.

Yes, Augmented Reality!

While Virtual Reality takes you anywhere, Augmented Reality brings you anything.

Imagine a family of corals gliding on your table?

Or maybe – some DNA strands scattered on the floor, where one can really get their comprehensive view. Even though the full-form is complicated, studying them won’t be.

Now that is wondrous.

 

So practically, now Google can take you to the world and also bring the world into the classroom. How cool is that!

The expeditions application which already has 6 million downloads and enlists 800+ VR expedition lessons, now has AR expeditions on the iOS and Android apps.

About 100+ available expeditions span from the topics of biology like RNA and DRA to significant concepts of physics like electromagnetism.

To experience the all round, panoramic view of AR, one needs ARCore or an ARKit-compatible phone.

Virtual Reality in Education: 50,000 Schools to learn through Google Expeditions in Pakistan

Virtual Reality in Education: 50,000 Schools to learn through Google Expeditions in Pakistan

Cinematic experience has never been the same again in Pakistan since the arrival of IMAX. The kind of immersive experience it provides adds tremendously to the viewing quality, excitement and entertainment. The good news is Pakistani classrooms will soon be transforming into much more engaging and immersive experiences enabled by Virtual Reality with Google Expeditions.

We have all heard the catchy phrase “When in doubt, travel!” The thing about traveling is that you learn more on an excursion than you do reading a dozen books on a topic. The reason being you are singularly focused, you are up for challenges and you are absorbing everything like a sponge. But as amazing as all that is, it is not always possible to travel especially when it comes to school trips what with limited budgets and feasibility of a tour. But all that can change if you don’t have to go on an excursion, but the excursion can come to you.

That is certainly possible with Virtual Reality. A multi-user, computer-generated environment, virtual reality enables learning through exploration of a world consisting of extremely realistic images and sounds – called virtual panoramas. The pre-programmed avatars or digital representatives of the user– in this case, the students – are able to freely roam these panoramas and interact with this virtual environment which is able to engage students fully and completely facilitating them to learn and understand optimally. These virtual interactions become particularly suitable in areas of study where concepts are difficult to elaborate like mathematics or where real experimentation and research can be risky, difficult or even impossible as in archeology.

Bringing the lessons to life for exploration in space, science, marine life, history, and art & design, specifically designed for K12 classes, Google Expeditions have particularly become popular among students, teachers and educationists around the globe for their hands-on and comprehensive nature that allows for easy incorporation within the school curriculum. What if we were to tell you that students could swim through the mysterious depths of the Mariana Trench exploring the unique marine life there or walk the massive expanse of Grand Canyon  or even the rocky surface of planet Mars just by donning a VR headgear without even ever leaving their classroom seats. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds.

Since these virtual tours involve the use of sensory perception, it allows for the focus, learning and memory retention to significantly improve and enhance as VR enables students to “experience” the lecture. That is why VR in education is also termed as “experiential learning” or learn-by-doing. Based on Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience, the best and most effective kind of learning happens through direct, purposeful experiences, allowing for information retention level to reach up to a remarkable 90 percent. This is a massive improvement compared to only 40-50% information retention in a traditional classroom.  

It is immensely exciting for us as we look forward to experiencing this amazing technology in Pakistan as well and watch our classrooms transform from passive learning centers to incredible live and insightful environments. We can’t help but be enthusiastic about what new rounds of exploration and adventures will unfold within the confines of a traditional classroom as the world’s best program for VR in classroom learning is now headed our way with VRXOne.  

VRXOne is already taking hordes of students on these fascinating virtual tours in the Middle East and receiving immensely positive response along the way.

Virtual reality is already changing the way students learn and understand things around the world transforming forever the manner in which instruction and learning is perceived, delivered, acquired and shared as well as applied to real-life experiences. By changing classrooms from boring places into interesting engaging panoramas, hard-to-follow lectures to memorable experiences, lack of interest to curiosity and creativity, as well as transforming students from passive learners to active learners, virtual reality is a complete packaged solution for a befitting 21st century classroom.

VR News: VRXOne Featured at Google IO 2018, Read Full Story

VR News: VRXOne Featured at Google IO 2018, Read Full Story

The Google IO 2018 consummated last week where benefits of intelligent technologies were trumpeted in the best way possible. With over 7,000 developers present, the program was also live-streamed by millions of people in different time zones who were eyeing over the company’s key announcements. The effects of the major developments can still be profoundly felt with many still in awe of the whirlwind progress in technology at Google.

 

A very special segment hosted by Benjamin Schrom, Product Manager at Google for Expeditions, highlighted the very important area of technologies that facilitate learning and form the pavement of immersive computing – Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

 

Both the technologies are improving pedagogy and Schrom explained why these technologies are so imperative to learning.

 

In his own words,

‘Virtual Reality’ can take you anywhere and ‘Augmented Reality’ can bring you anything.

 

While sharing the company’s vision for improving education, he acknowledged the efforts of the partners who offer Virtual Reality kits and expand the reach of the ‘Google for Education’ program. Out of the 10 partners showcased, VRXOne was the Middle East partner, responsible for bringing 1 Million Virtual Reality Expeditions for the students in the Middle East.

 

Combining abstracted textual and verbal cues coming from books, videos, and lectures with a fluid demonstration through the Virtual Reality technology, VRXOne is a product of Munfarid Consulting, a Bahraini Learning & Development company founded by the famous AR VR trainer and influencer, Dr. Sana Farid.

 

With sustained efforts and credible partnerships with leaders in innovation, VRXOne is being used to make an impact on the world of tomorrow. Its mention at the Google IO 2018 is a matter of pride and accomplishment for the region. It also clearly explains the efforts in the region by emerging companies to boost STEM learning and using innovation to the long-term vision of benefitting businesses, boosting entrepreneurship, and strengthening the economy.

 

With Virtual Reality being at the helm of education now at many government-owned schools, colleges as well as private institutions, other factors like boosting STEM learning, setting up innovation centers like the recent one at the UAE University campus, have further revitalized the shared goal towards enhanced skills in the students. It is the small steps towards innovation that make a nation and its citizens stand tall.

 

Determined entrepreneurs are reshaping the Middle East economy by building an Arab tech economy. Defeating the barriers by developing a growing local taste for technology, companies like Souq.com and Careem have channeled their potential and energy to drive growth.

 

In the Middle East, something path-breaking is happening, driving the world to honor its potential – be it the Amazon’s fondness for Souq, or be it the VRXOne’s mention at the Google IO 2018.

Google Summit at Kent College, Dubai Focusses on ‘Learn by Doing’

Google Summit at Kent College, Dubai Focusses on ‘Learn by Doing’

Apps Events, Dubai on Friday (May 11) and Saturday (May 12) welcomed educators, leaders and IT, administrators, to engage in a thoughtful conversation on the latest developments and updates pertaining to education at Google Summit. The session held at the Kent College, Dubai saw keen attendees, given the past reputation of the Apps Event’s success. Deep diving dives into many of the Google tools have been a great USP of these events.

The session was graced by the leaders in the Google for Education community had a lot to look out for.

The conference, eagerly awaited by tech aficionados around the world, kicked off with an inspiring keynote on the Day 1 by Rania Hadi, the Head of Google Education MENA. She took the stage to showcase the latest developments in the pursuit of better education at Google. Her talk was briefly yet deeply centered around what goes at the heart of Google that makes it work.

What followed was a chain of talks, experience sharing, and practical insights from teachers, technology evangelists and also by the Director of AppsEvents, Dan Taylor. His talk was a guided lesson to how, by using ‘core suite’ and other ‘non-core’ Google Apps, a school could be transformed to a Google school, starting from the basics and taking the penetration to a higher level.

Talks were delivered highlighting the benefits of G Suite, Google Slides, Chromebooks and elucidating the other lesser-known benefits to both students and teachers.

A special coverage of Virtual Reality Google Expeditions was observed as the prominent regional AR VR researcher and trainer, Dr. Sana Farid enlightened the fellow attendees on the benefits of Google Expeditions. Dr. Sana envisions, strategizes and streamlines Ai/AR/VR based programs in education to improve the learning experience in students. Her regional experience and in-depth understanding of reality technology have led to her being noted in the list of Top 101 Women in #ARVR 2017, winning her global acclaim.

Through her talk, Dr. Sana explained the workability of VR expeditions and how they can be easily implemented in classrooms to cater to individual student needs. Accounts of how Google expeditions could exponentially boost retention and decrease distraction from learning was the tipping point of the talk.

Another high note of the event was seeing pupils from the Kent College Dubai creating their own Google Classroom in real time, as well as other software from G Suite for Education.

Google Summit, on the whole, laid a strong pavement for a beginner’s understanding of Google’s education tools as well as allowed crossover of important exchange of views of the preeminent leaders, regional and global.

The premier Google Summit partners of the event were Acer and Intel.

Google IO 2018: VRXOne Finds Mention as Google Expeditions Partner, Read Other Important Takeaways

Google IO 2018: VRXOne Finds Mention as Google Expeditions Partner, Read Other Important Takeaways

The stability and prosperity of a country depend on many things, but the ones that stand out the most powerfully are employment and education. The Middle East vision dwells on marshaling all available resources, keeping diverse perspectives, while eyeing the same goal to harness these two areas. The focus is on the development of first-rate education, imbibing technology to harness processes, and encouraging the youth to identify their skills and helping them foray into entrepreneurship.

 

For this, the governments in the region are taking calculated, carefully navigated, and deliberate efforts. Mentionable steps include the establishment of an Innovation Center at the UAE University campus and a recent ministerial directive by the Bahrain education minister of acknowledging high-performing private schools and granting them numerous benefits in different forms. In Oman, the government is determined to build Smart Cities based on innovative technologies and applications and is taking required steps. The purpose of these investments is that the future generations grow and the region continues to enjoy social and economic stability.

 

The efforts are visible, and the results too. The latest validation comes straight from California that saw the launch and wrap of the Google IO 2018, the tech giant’s annual developers meeting. The event marked by the attendance of over 7,000 developers witnessed major exciting announcements, the key highlight being intelligent technologies. Millions of viewers from all over the world who live-streamed the program on Google Events website were convinced – penetration of technologies in their lives is going to make processes so smooth that it is awe-inspiring.

 

The takeaways from the introductory keynote by CEO Sundar Pichai are being heavily shared by the netizens and the excitement is ample enough to behold. The seemingly unreal yet true announcements include Google Assistant being developed to make real calls to a person and Google Photos getting the colorizing feature to convert black and white photos to colored with ‘one-click’.

In a special segment, the host Benjamin Schrom, Product Manager at Google for Expeditions, Google Apps for Education, Google Forms and other educational endeavors, highlighted the very important area of technologies that facilitate learning and form the pavement of immersive computing – Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

With a slew of new features to the Google Expeditions, the following were the takeaways:

 

  • One can make their own VR Tour using imagery from 360-degree photos and Google’s Street View
  • Google Expeditions AR has arrived, over 100 AR expeditions launched in different subjects
  • Google Expeditions New extensive and User-Friendly Interface updated with a better interface for self-guided tours
  • Experience Google Expeditions through rich, scalable, hardware & OS Agnostic Mode for improved access & viewability (now available in Chromebooks too)

 

In Schrom’s own words,

‘Virtual Reality’ can take you anywhere and ‘Augmented Reality’ can bring you anything.’

 

Besides explaining the new features coming to Google for Education products like Expeditions, G Suite, Google Slides, and Chromebooks, he appreciated the efforts of Google expeditions partners for widening the reach of the program in their respective regions and introducing cloud-based learning at schools and colleges.

 

The segment highlighted VRXOne, the Google Expeditions partner for Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, responsible for bringing 1 Million Virtual Reality Expeditions to the students across regions. Revolutionizing the face of learning and development technologies in the region as well as internationally, VRXOne is a pioneer & certified Google Expeditions partner, offering intelligent technology solutions interweaved with corporate and economic vision.

 

Combining abstracted textual and verbal cues coming from books, videos, and lectures with a fluid demonstration through the Virtual Reality technology, VRXOne is a product of Munfarid, a Learning & Development company founded by AR VR trainer and influencer, Dr. Sana Farid.

 

VRXOne is a critically acclaimed Virtual Reality expeditions kit that has been adopted in different schools, colleges, companies and has also been demonstrated to high dignitaries of different countries.

 

With sustained efforts and credible partnerships with leaders in innovation, VRXOne is being used to make an impact on the world of tomorrow. Its mention at the Google IO 2018 is a matter of great pride and accomplishment for the region.

 

Acknowledgment of successful Middle East businesses at the global level mark the nodal points of the region’s prosperity. It can be said that the Technology Plan for the region is suited to meet the vision for development.