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.