Harvard University has joined forces with Bridgewater State College to develop apps to teach young children about virtual reality, and the technology could eventually be applied to classroom environments like preschools.
The two universities announced Wednesday they will work together to develop educational VR experiences that can be used to train children to be able to navigate through environments that are virtual.
In addition to VR games, the Harvard-Bridgewater partnership will include a curriculum that can teach children to navigate their own digital worlds, including the world of LEGO, and will incorporate educational VR tools like a virtual camera and interactive toys, according to a press release from Harvard.
While this collaboration is focused on education, it will allow for collaboration between the universities and with other institutions, such as companies like Amazon, which are already experimenting with VR in classrooms.
The collaboration with Bridgewater has some precedent.
In 2014, Google opened a VR center in Bridgewater to help teach children how to use its new VR headset.
“The Google Center for Learning, which we co-founded with Bridgewater, was designed to build on our existing work to make VR accessible for students,” Google said in a statement at the time.
“We’re looking forward to working with Harvard and Bridgewater to explore how they can use their unique expertise in teaching digital literacy to build apps that will be a critical component of the curriculum that will help children navigate their digital worlds,” Google’s deputy general counsel and head of education innovation, Alex Korn, said at the center’s opening.
Bridgeman State College is a research university that has been using VR to train students to learn how to read in the past.
Earlier this year, the college began testing students in virtual worlds, and students who took part in the VR test scored higher than those who did not, according a report by the Wall Street Journal.
The partnership with Harvard is the latest in a string of partnerships between the two schools.
Last month, the two universities collaborated to develop an app that will teach children about “the history of the Americas,” according to the press release.
The first VR app to be released by the two institutions, titled A History of the World, was released in 2017.
Harvard will also be using the technology in their virtual world, the VR app is titled A Journey into Virtual Worlds.
Bentley University has been collaborating with Google on VR learning for over a decade.
In 2016, Bentley announced it would be working with Google to develop a curriculum to teach children in VR.
The curriculum will be based on Google’s Virtual Human Interaction training, and it will also include Google Glass and Google Glasses, according the press conference.