Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles BEN SCHROM: Hello, everyone. Thanks for spending some time with us this afternoon. I'm Ben Schrom. I'm a product manager on the Google Expeditions team. And I'm really excited to be joined here by Jen and Rob, two of my colleagues. We're really just a part, though, of a small community of really, really passionate people here at Google who think technology can really change education. And if it's not obvious already by virtue of the session, we're especially excited about the role VR can play in education. So we've just returned, a little exhausted, but super-encouraged, from a year-long trip that we've taken. And that trip has been to try to bring VR to as many teachers and students around the world as we could. And as Clay announced yesterday, we've managed to bring expeditions to over a million students since last year. It's a number we're really, really proud of. And it's been an amazing journey. But so much of the credit for what follows actually goes to the amazing group of teachers and students who joined us along the way. We've encountered so much enthusiasm. We've received so much amazing feedback from them. And we're really, really grateful to everyone who has participated and who continues to participate. So I'm going to start with some thoughts about why VR and education are a really good match. And then Jen's going to talk a little bit about Google Expeditions and our Pioneer Program. And then Rob's going to talk about the future of VR in education as we see it. So let's start with the why. Like, why did we originally create Google Expeditions? And why do we think VR platforms like Daydream will offer so much potential for educators and learners? Why should developers like yourselves be interested in developing educational apps for VR? So let's start with a quick show of hands. How many of you remember studying really, really hard for a test in school? How many? Most of you. How many of you forgot everything that you studied the second after the test? Exactly the same number, right? How many of you think you could do well in that test again right now? Not a lot. [LAUGHTER] So how many of you remember a trip that you've taken to an interesting place, a country, a museum, something like that? About the same number. How many of you can recall details about that trip? A lot of you, right? So therein lies one of the reasons why we find the emergence of widely accessible VR technology so exciting for education. Google I/O is no place to temper one's enthusiasm. So I'll make a bold claim that many of us who think about educational technology, VR is the thing we've been waiting for, because it allows us to address one of the most important, but neglected areas of learning. And I want to spend a few minutes digging into why. So to start with, let's take a really, really big step back. Historically, most of the technology that we've developed to aid learning has been aimed to enable access to information-- facts, details, other observations about the world. And for most of human history, a smart person has basically been someone who knew a lot of facts. And fact retention is what a lot of the technology that we've built directly supports. I'm talking about things like the book, right? Or libraries of books, a catalog that lets you easily access tons and tons of information quickly. Search engines, like one you might recognize here, have only served to make this kind of fact retrieval breathtakingly fast, comprehensive, and easy. Even the rapid growth of technology like laptops, and tablets, and smartphones in schools has only really served to help you assimilate information and then turn around and evaluate how well you did in absorbing it and recalling it. But while information is super, super important, it's not even close to the full story when it comes to learning. Let me give you one example of this. Here is a math problem. "There are 26 goats and 10 sheep on a boat. How old is the captain of the boat?" So a study done in the US to a bunch of fifth graders in the '90s asked this question. And three-fourths of those students produced a numerical answer to this question. The most common answer was 36. There were some 16s. And amazingly, there was one 260. [LAUGHTER] A quote from one of the students who answered 36 said, "Well, for this type of problem, you need to add, or subtract, or multiply. And for this one, it seemed it was best to add." [LAUGHTER] Right? And the important point, these kids are not stupid at all. These are smart kids. But they're kids for whom the traditional approaches to teaching mathematics are failing. Let me give you one little bit more complicated example. A study done in the '90s found that when students were taught geography in a traditional way by memorizing all the states and where they go and the state capitals with a worksheet like this, they were largely incapable of naming or placing those same states in the correct places when the borders were removed like that. They were basically clueless the second the map changed. But the study found that another group of students who had spent some time discussing concepts like why rivers and mountain ranges are natural borders-- they were much more capable of placing states in the right spots. And the reason that's important is that simple techniques that literally, in this case, ground information about which states are where serve students to understand the important concepts of why-- like, why are the borders where they are. And learning this way is powerful, because it allows for much more improved knowledge transfer. It allows you to apply the same thing you learned there somewhere else. So you could logically apply these same lessons to a map of Europe or whatever. Let me give you another very different example. We've long known that we have really, really powerful and innate spatial memories, even if we didn't understand the mechanisms. This is the reason why most of you guys can remember the trips and none of us can remember the test. And here's actually a medieval representation of the brain that tried to understand it as actually a series of spaces where you crammed memories and facts, like an attic or something. They actually weren't that far off. It's the same insight that has given rise to that mnemonic device called a memory palace, or a mind palace. For those of you who don't know what that is, it basically involves using our memory of a place, or better spatial memory, the rooms in a familiar building like your house or your street, as a structure in which to place the arbitrary facts that you remember, say, in this picture, like a large number of amphibious species. So each thing that you want to remember gets associated with the physical space that you already know. And then when you want to recall them, you visualize that space you know. And you use them as a trigger for that set of arbitrary facts. And we've known that this works for a long time. Cicero used it to remember long, long speeches. But it's a capability that traditional academics rarely, rarely tap. It's one that's easy to see VR making use of them. It's only recently that we've really begun to understand why this works that way, at least scientifically.