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Google to bring virtual reality to UK schools

Technology firm will offer free digital skills training to UK teachers as part of a scheme to roll out virtual reality technology to schools

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Technology firm will offer free digital skills training to UK teachers as part of a scheme to roll out virtual reality technology to schools

Google is to bring virtual reality to one million schoolchildren in the UK as part of a new learning initiative, the technology giant's CEO Sundar Pichai announced today.

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 teachers who would like to use the technology.

Teachers will be able to take their students on what Google calls "virtual reality field trips" using Google's cardboard headsets, along with the Google Expeditions app.

"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," Mr Pichai said.

His announcement follows a pilot scheme in which Google visited UK schools to showcase the technology.

Claire Lotriet, a primary school teacher and ed-tech columnist for TES took part in the scheme.

“Every class from Year 3 to 6 had a go when Google visited us and I can honestly say they all loved it, which is a good start,” Ms Lotriet said, writing for TES on 11 November.

“However, Google really need to develop a version for tablets – assuming that schools have mobile phone-sized devices is a bit of an oversight,” she said.

The technology firm says that teachers can still sign up for the scheme for free online and have an Expeditions team visit their school.

"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 digital skills training, called The Digital Garage, will be available in more than 100 UK towns and cities.

Centres are already open in Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham and Glasgow, with more launching in Cardiff and Port Talbot next week.

TES Resources and Google for Education are also working together to help teachers create and share Google Expedition lessons worldwide.

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