Future-focused learning with Google Expeditions

After having it on my list of things to try for a while, I finally got to try Google Cardboard in conjunction with Google Expeditions. Instantly I regretted not giving this a go sooner as it was so easy to set up and the more I explored, more and more learning opportunities came to mind.

What is Google Cardboard?

Google Cardboard is a virtual reality (VR) tool that you can with a smartphone. It allows users to experience virtual reality in a simple, fun, and affordable way.

What is Google Expeditions?

Google Expeditions is an app where students can take field trips right from their classroom (with a smartphone inserted into the Google Cardboard). Expeditions allows the teacher acting as a “guide” to lead groups of “explorers” through collections of 360° and 3D images while pointing out interesting sights along the way. Questions and facts are included on the guides screen. The guide can also click various points of interest, and the explorers follow an arrow until they get to that point.

 

What will you need to use Google Expeditions with your class?

  1. Depending on how large you would like your group of explorers to be, you would need a smartphone for each student. Note, all phones need to be on the same WiFi Connection as the teacher (or the ‘guide’).
  2. As well as a smartphone for each explorer, the explorers also need a Google Cardboard, in which the phone is inserted.
  3. The teacher, or ‘guide’, does not necessarily need a smartphone – but a device that can download the Expeditions app on through Apple or Google Play is needed.
  4. The teacher, or ‘guide’, does not use the Google Cardboard.

Learning opportunities

The learning opportunities are endless. In my case, the catalyst for trying Google Expeditions was when a colleague was discussing her idea to create an inquiry for her students to choose a country anywhere in the world and create a travel itinerary for 2 weeks. We thought that Google Expeditions would be a great way to ‘hook’ the students and create some excitement about various places in the world that they could begin their research on.  After trying Google Expeditions out with a number of colleagues, it became apparent that this could be used across a number of subject areas. For example:

Science: Students can take part in an underwater excursion in the Caribbean or can explore the Moon.

History: Students can take a field trip to historical buildings in the UK or can visit various sites in Greece.

Performing Arts: Students can take a trip through a TV studio and TV sets.

Anatomy: Students can go for a virtual tour through a human heart.

The possibilities are endless, and there are hundreds of Expeditions to choose from.

How will this enhance learning?

Whilst it could be easy to think that virtual field trips could be a bit of a gimmick, I would encourage you to give it a go and think about how these tools could really promote deep learning for your students. Google have created a great page to explain how Google Expeditions can be built into lessons to create hugely valuable learning experiences.

If you have used Google Expeditions with your students, it would be great if you could share your ideas in the comments below.

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