24 January 2017

Students at Bilborough College took a 3D tour around the human body and brain, visited Iceland, the moon and Google headquarters without leaving their classrooms thanks to a series of virtual reality field trips.

The immersive experience was provided by Google Expeditions, which allows students to explore everywhere from Mars and the Great Barrier Reef to the inside of Buckingham Palace.

Google Expeditions provide a tablet for the teacher along with cardboard viewers and phones for every student.

Using an app on the tablet the teacher selects a destination and the entire classroom gets a 3D view of it through their cardboard viewer.

In one classroom at Bilborough College, students were guided through the circulatory system in the human body by their teacher.

Student Parisa Zamani, 18, said it was an amazing experience.

She said:

“I think it’s good because it’s so much more interactive; it’s a 3D view and when it comes to anatomy it really helps to put what you learn into context and bring it to life. We are studying Biology as part of the International Baccalaureate qualification so this is particularly useful for us.”

Student Kes Walker, 16, studies Computer Science and he used the Google Expedition equipment to learn more about fibre network construction.

He said:

“It was very entertaining as well as educational and I really enjoyed it. It was a great experience. I would imagine it would be great for Geography students as I’ve heard that you can see what it’s like inside a volcano.”

Simon Holland, Head of Geography at Bilborough College, organised the sessions.

He said:

“Students from a wide range of subjects were able to experience an expedition that was relevant to their learning. It was a fantastic experience because they visited places that they wouldn’t be able to go to like the International Space Station or inside a volcano. In one session students had an underwater experience looking at sharks on the Great Barrier Reef while other students looked at the circulation, respiratory and nervous systems. Real-life field trips are obviously important but I think virtual reality field trips will be used more and more in classrooms in the future because of the wide range of experiences that they offer. They give students a real sense of place, seeing what it’s like to be somewhere else. We have three virtual reality headsets in college for our students to use; they are not expensive so they could even buy the viewers themselves and the app is free to download.”

The expeditions at Bilborough College were part of a broader commitment announced by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, to reach one million students in the UK through the programme while also supporting teachers by providing training in how best to make the most of technology in the classroom.

Bilborough Sixth Form College caters for students aged 16 to 19 years old, wanting to study AS and A-levels, BTEC or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme in an academic, supportive and sociable environment.

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