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BBC School Report covers Google Expeditions

‘Virtual reality is coming to a school near you!’ announces a pupil at Chigwell School as she introduces a special report on VR and Google Expeditions for the BBC’s annual school news day...

Google Expeditions and Parent Zone were thrilled to be approached by pupils at Chigwell School, Essex, who wanted to shine a light on virtual reality and how it helps classroom learning for a special BBC report.

It features in this year’s BBC School Report – an annual news day that gives 11 to 16-year-old students the chance to deliver their own news shows for a worldwide online audience.

Parent Zone has been working with Google, talking to teachers and pupils who have signed up for the Google Expeditions Pioneer Programme and asking them what they think about using virtual reality in the classroom. The BBC school reporters wanted to find out what kind of feedback we’d had from schools and pupils.

Chigwell School, Essex 

BBC School reporter Saaim talked to our editor Eleanor Levy via Skype about why schools should try Expeditions.

‘All the schools we’ve spoken to told us that the experience is great fun and brings education to life,’ Eleanor told him, explaining that part of the reason teachers and pupils have found it so enjoyable is because the experience really takes you into the heart of a subject.

She specifically cited the Google Expedition which takes pupils to Pripyat, a Ukrainian town seriously affected by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in the 1980s, as an example.

‘The pupil we spoke to said that he got a real sense of what it must have been like as a child to have been suddenly uprooted and had to leave where they’d grown up. They felt really close to the experience.’

Saaim finished his report by concluding: ‘Virtual reality is not just for games and for videos, it’s also for education and discovery.’

We couldn’t agree more.

Watch the report (it begins 24 mins 50 seconds in).

Q&A: Chigwell School quizzes Google about VR

Chigwell’s school reporters asked Google some interesting questions. We decided to print the full replies because these are queries that often come up when people ask us about Expeditions.

From what age should VR headsets be used?

Google: Google has designed Expeditions with Google Cardboard as an educational product recommended only for students over 7 years old with adult supervision. Teachers interested in using Expeditions can do so without Google Cardboard in 'full screen' mode.

Why has Google Expeditions decided to bring VR to schools?

Google: We wanted to build great new experiences that allow students to visit places that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to go.

When did Google expeditions first introduce virtual reality to UK schools and how many are using them?

Google: The Expeditions Pioneer Programme was launched two years ago globally and last autumn we brought the programme exclusively to the UK where we’re aiming to take more than 1 million UK pupils on an Expedition.