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.
The month of May has already been pretty happening in the Middle East with Future Tech Week (GISEC/ GEMEC/IoTx) taking place in Dubai and Bahrain-based VRXOne being highlighted in the recent Google I/O 2018. And now, as Ramadan is close at hand, there is more to come. Let us put it this way…
Got a Ramadan-related query? Don’t worry Google is bringing all Ramadan-related information literally to your fingertips during this holy month. That’s right. As Muslims around the world have been gearing up for fasting schedule in Ramadan, Google has had its own preparations. Or as Najeeb Jarrar, the Head of Consumer Marketing at Google for MENA region, puts it, “As more than a billion people prepare for Ramadan, we too at Google have been working to help our users as they begin to adapt to the month-long occasion. From augmented reality in Qibla Finder to virtual reality in Qalam, we brought Google’s innovation to your fingertips this Ramadan.”
No matter what it is you are looking for – local prayer times, popular Ramadan recipes or useful tips – all of this and related information is going to be accessible on the main search result page throughout the month-long Islamic event.
Not only that, Google has also revealed addition of new features as part of Ramadan services called Qibla Finder and Qalam. These new features are a product of Muslims’ digital habits over years during Ramadan as per the Google Trends data which signifies a greater interest in ‘Qibla and Ramadan Kareem’-related searches throughout the holy month. So let us look at what are these novel features.
One of the features is an update to the Qibla Finder web app, launched last year which makes use of Augmented Reality on Android devices to find Qibla direction – a very useful app for Muslims at the time of prayer as they carry on with their activities throughout the day. The update enables offline use of the feature as well as allows to place a shortcut to Qibla Finder app on the home screen of Android devices, in essence speeding up the entire process for greater convenience.
The new product however is to do with Ramadan and later, Eid greetings for users to share with friends and family. Called Qalam (Pen), this app is a hybrid of calligraphy and virtual reality. The app offers over 35 artworks created by nine of the world-famous artists and calligraphists including el Seed whose is known for “calligraffiti” in his designs which is a mix of calligraphy with graffiti; Tolga Girgin from Turkey whose work unites calligraphy with typography; Soraya Syed from Pakistan, specializing in bringing together modern technologies like holography with calligraphy – as well as Diaa Allam, Karima Sharabi, Lulwah Al Hamoud, Majid Al Yousuf and Rachel Joy Price.
We are excited to benefit from these features during Ramadan as we dig through Google Search Engine for our desired Islamic queries. Ramadan Kareem, everyone!
Change is probably one of the most powerful and inevitable phenomena in the world. Someone once said – teachers change the world one child at a time. This statement really sheds light on the influential role of teachers in the life of nations. But today, in this particular time, teachers have added responsibility beyond their traditional role as instructors, mentors, and resource providers. Today they also have to assume the role as leading facilitators for pioneering and affecting modern ed-tech practices and immersive learning in the classrooms.
In view of which, the Ministry of Education, UAE, is presenting various programmes across the year for teachers’ training in Ajman Teachers’ Training Institute, focusing on STREAM education approach and state-of-the-art learning facilitation practices in schools. The objective of such platforms is to instill a culture of innovation and a sense of entrepreneurship in the Emirati teachers in addition to promoting STREAM based education and community partnership.
Speakers and trainers would deliver invaluable exercises and discussions in practices and methodologies to boost research and creative competencies of teachers expanding upon their central role in preparing a generation that can nourish the growth and expanse of knowledge based economy in the Middle East by way laying the groundwork for integration of STREAM approach as well as linking STREAM schools with universities and ultimately labor markers.
Considered a key to sustainable leadership and innovative practices in a changing world, STREAM education is perceived as a crucial catalyst for accelerated socio-economic and ecological growth and development in the age of 4th industrial revolution. In that regard, the UAE teachers are exposed to exclusive opportunities to receive substantial training in implementing the ways to promote student learning, participation and entrepreneurial aptitudes through creative practices – from employing innovative STREAM education approaches to immersive ed-tech technologies in the classroom.
One of the highly acknowledged trainers in the Ministry of Education, UAE, coming from Bahrain, is Dr. Sana Farid, a pioneer ARVR & Ai Strategist, Research Analyst, Coach and Entrepreneur. Contributing to conduct training session in implementation of innovation and technology in learning practices in view of STREAM approach to education. Previously receiving the Award of Appreciation from the UAE Ministry of Education, in appreciation to train large scale of nearly 10,000 teachers for immersive technologies in the classroom, Dr. Sana is the President & Ambassador Women of Wearables MENA, Co-Chair VRAR Association MENA and one of the World Top 101 Women in ARVR.
Bearing in mind, how the training in STREAM approach and experience in immersive technologies is expected to raise a self-motivated and highly skilled generation for optimum attainment of a knowledge based economy, His Excellency Dr. Hussain Al Hammadi, the UAE for Minister of Education, commented, “To instill a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the students of primary education schools and to provide a specialized environment that embraces students’ initiatives in innovative aspects is one of the most important requirements of STREAM education.” [link] For this reason, the fourth session of the Forum was dedicated to encouraging and promoting practical applications driving the management of innovative practices and projects based on STREAM education which could then further attract the interest of local and international sponsors for forging relations, potential partnerships and accreditations within educational communities.
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.
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.
I still remember being hit by a wave of fantasy and wonder the first time I saw Tom Cruise’s character John Anderton in ‘Minority Report’, tapping into the holographic overlays of his family memories in life-sized images that seem to just spring to life magnificently in the middle of the room. And then the 3D depiction of the character’s wife was something else too. It was not the first movie I saw that made use of such technological innovation but it was certainly one of the most powerful ones.
Today, however, we are seeing the realization of much more amazing and far more advanced immersive technologies being unfolded in the real world that are well poised to take the entire world by storm. As a matter of fact, they already have. Just a few years back what we could only read about in the pages of the books or experience by way of sci-fi movies, is all within grasp today. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are indeed changing the dynamics of the world around us. Many industries have already been experimenting with these technologies mainly using them for training purposes but now these disruptive technologies are all set to go mainstream.
As the world continues to embrace these remarkable technolog