Immersive technologies like VR are expanding the possibilities of education, enabling new forms of instruction across various subjects and disciplines. Already, students, educators, and life-long learners can explore a growing catalog of educational VR content.
But things are just getting started. Today, we’re announcing the launch of Oculus Education pilot programs in three locations: Taiwan, Japan, and Seattle. These programs will bring VR headsets into schools, libraries, and museums, with the aim to better understand how teachers, students, and various institutions can use VR for learning and collaboration.
Currently, these pilot programs will focus on training teachers and other instructors, as learning the particulars of any technology is a critical step in creating—and scaling—a program of lasting impact and value. The programs will also gather valuable feedback and lessons learned, specifically around the unique needs of individual institutions, that we can share with our product teams to inform our future discussions and plans.
Oculus is donating both Rift and Oculus Go headsets to the Taiwan Internet and E-Commerce Association (TiEA), which will distribute them to select libraries and museums in various regions of Taiwan. People will get the chance to experience VR for themselves by visiting new demo locations starting this year.
We’ll work with TiEA to distribute headsets to the following locations: American Innovation Center, Kaohsiung Main Public Library Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, National Central Library, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Natural Science, National Taiwan Museum, New Taipei City Library (Main Library), Social Innovation Lab, Taipei Public Library (Main Library), and Taroko National Park Headquarters.
Each institution will determine how best to use VR in their community and how to build programs around VR. As just one example, some of the art museums are exploring the use of apps like Quill and Oculus Medium to demonstrate the potential of immersive art creation.
With the start of the US 2018-2019 school year, we’ve partnered with Seattle Public Schools to develop and pilot a VR creation course and learning program, including a student and teacher collaboration across Ballard High School and Franklin High School. Students from both schools will spend the year creating educational VR content with the goal that it can eventually be used in the classroom. And students will collaborate between their schools through VR under teacher supervision. Similarly, we’re partnering with Technology Access Foundation (TAF) in Seattle, looking at how best to train educators to use VR, and explore additional applications of VR in the classroom.
In Japan, we’re in the early stages of kicking off a pilot program with educators interested in using VR for distance learning and educational applications for high school students. We’re working with these educators to connect students in remote parts of the country to teachers through VR, ensuring all students have access to coursework and educational materials regardless of their location and proximity to physical institutions.
Previously, we partnered with the California State Library to support equitable access to new and emerging technology and teamed up with research institutions at MIT, Harvard, and more to better understand VR’s potential impact on learning outcomes. With the launch of these three new pilot programs, we’re excited to learn even more about how students, teachers, and the public use VR headsets in educational settings—and how we can continue to improve our technology for the classroom.
— The Oculus Team