Google is to bring virtual reality to one million schoolchildren in the UK as part of a new learning initiative, the tech giant’s CEO Sundar Pichai has announced.
Speaking on his first visit to the UK as Google’s chief executive, Mr Pichai also announced plans to offer five hours of free digital skills training to anyone who would like it, with both face-to-face and online mentoring on basic web skills available to users.
The Google boss visited a London school to see students using Google’s Cardboard headsets to experience virtual reality as part of their education.
“Virtual reality can spark students’ imagination and help them learn about topics like how blood flows through the human body or the impact climate change is having on the Great Barrier Reef, in an engaging and immersive way,” he said.
“Today, we’re taking a class through one of our new career Expeditions, which inspires students to think about their future professions by taking a virtual trip to work environments like a hospital operating theatre or behind the scenes at Aston Martin.”
The Expeditions app offers what Google calls “virtual reality field trips” to teachers and students.
The firm says it will enable teachers to sign up for the VR scheme for free online and have an Expeditions team visit their school, as part of a roadshow the technology giant is running during the current academic year.
“We’ve already received feedback from thousands of teachers in the UK and they believe that Expeditions can improve literacy and writing skills, and help create excitement to complement traditional teaching methods,” Mr Pichai said.
The free skills training, called The Digital Garage, will see training sessions in basic online skills brought to more than 100 towns and cities in the UK.
Centres are already open in Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham and Glasgow, with Google adding it is launching in Cardiff and Port Talbot next week.