Saturday, December 3, 2016

Using Google Earth VR for Education

Google has done it again! 

I've talked a little bit about Google Expeditions before but Google Earth VR really takes things to the next level.  It's almost as if way back in 2004 when Google first introduced Google Earth, it had VR in mind.  After all, in the last decade+ tons of resources have gone into Google Earth to make it more interactive and complete.

At first, individual users and organizations were encouraged to model buildings and cities in 3D which were in turn added to the globe.  Now, Google implements a type of auto generated 3D mesh across whole cities to more accurately and completely depict the 3D settings around the globe.  This visual from Wikipedia shows the current state of 3D imaging within Google Earth.

Viewing Google Earth VR from the educational lens starts to look pretty exciting.

In many aspects, the world in which we live seems to become increasingly small; however, the constraints experienced in education are ever-present.  While I'm not going to argue that VR is a perfect replacement for experiencing the world first hand, the ability to provide a quick an easy entry point is invaluable.  Whether checking out a scene on the other side of the world or even on the other side of town, Google Earth VR has the potential to be implemented extremely easily into the daily activities in the classroom.

Imagine teaching kids about architecture and allowing them to fly around the globe and see the sites where architectural styles were first invented.  Think about what it means to be able to fly around each of the world's cities and begin to understand the products of any culture or group.  Now extrapolate ten years into the future and imagine the types of experiences that will be available.  I believe full-heartedly that we are at the dawn of educational experiences that haven't even been imaginable until this point.  Still not catching the vision of this development?  Watch this promo for the app and then find someone with a VR setup to try it out, you won't regret it.