Google Expeditions is A First for Fife College

Monday, 27 February 2017

The ‘surface of Mars’ the ‘summit of Mount Everest’ and the ‘city of Barcelona’  were just some of the amazing places visited by Fife College students recently as they took part in a new educational programme led by Google.

A team from the multinational technology company visited the College’s Stenton Campus in Glenrothes on Friday 24 February and led a series of ‘out of this world’ workshops throughout the day attended by more than 500 students.

Fife College is one of the first colleges in Scotland to take up the opportunity and enable its students to benefit from new virtual reality (VR) technology which transforms the way students learn.

The virtual reality experience is accessed with a smartphone and Google Cardboard – a simple cardboard viewer. This new product enables lecturers to take their class on virtual field trips immersing students in experiences that bring abstract concepts to life and provide a deeper understanding of the world beyond the classroom.

Students are guided by their lecturer who controls the expedition via a tablet. There are 1,000 destinations to choose from and range from the Great Wall of China and the surface of Mars to inside the human body and colourful coral reefs. ‘Expeditions’ are tailored to the subjects studied by student groups.

Janet Fyfe, Curriculum Manager for Learning and Teaching Services at Fife College was delighted to welcome Google into the College and said:

“Google is a household name and renowned for its expertise and technology relating to online and web technologies - we are therefore very pleased to welcome Google in to our new Fujitsu facility and to be part of this exciting new programme.

“The purpose of the sessions was to raise staff awareness of the potential of augmented and virtual reality experiences. It is extremely exciting - Google Expeditions is enabling our students to sample cutting edge technology which will enhance their learning experience.”

Robbie Steggles, 19 from Dunfermline, is studying HND Architectural Technology and said: “This is a really cool tool which enabled me to visit architecture through the ages and all around the world – it was a great way to see the scale of individual buildings and look around them as if you were actually there. It’s a great way to learn and I would definitely use this again.”

Mark Forrester, Supported Programmes Lecturer said: “This is a great educational tool which is very visual and has a novelty element to grab students’ attention and get them talking about their various experiences. It could also lead to lots of other uses such as a way for students to showcase their work virtually or to help them gain confidence to take part in something new.

“One of the groups we have had here today have ‘visited’ Mount Everest’s base camp and looked at architecture around the world, how else would we manage that? This is a fantastic opportunity for the College to embrace new technology to benefit our students.”

Fife College was delighted at how well received Google Expeditions was by both staff and students and after evaluating the benefits, hopes to role out the programme to students at each of its five main campuses in the future.