In August 2018, Oculus announced a new education program that would distribute some of its Rift and Go headsets to a select group of educational institutes in Taiwan, Seattle, and Japan. In addition to access to the technology, the program is also focused on training both students and teachers on how to develop for the platform and use it in the classroom.
Most interestingly, the Japan program is focusing on using VR for distance learning and increasing student access to coursework and other educational materials. While there seems to be a huge potential for innovation in this space, its not clear from the announcement exactly how the headsets would affect access to the coursework as described. The Oculus Go doesn’t seem equipped for navigating a learning management system, and the Oculus Rift already requires a PC that would supposedly to be sufficient on its own. While the benefit of a headset here seems nebulous, I’m eager to see practical application of this program.
In addition to these programs, Oculus also published a few new educational apps for its headsets. TitanicVR and Hoover Dam: Industrial VR are both immersive experiences that allow you to tour the respective structures and learn about their history and operation.
On the Oculus Go, I was able to try out Breaking Boundaries in Science, a new app that explores the scientific contributions of Jane Goodall, Marie Curie and Grace Hopper. Available for free, the app places you in cartoon recreations of their workspaces, be it a camp site in Gombe or Curie’s lab in Paris. Using a teleportation system to move around, you can examine different objects in the room and listen to audio clips about their significance. While the use of VR is a bit superfluous to the educational impact, the novelty and production value of the app seems like a great way to get kids interested in the history of these women.