Google Expeditions

John CowellClassroom Resources, Collaborative, Internet Resources, Teaching & Learning, Whole School

My school was given the opportunity to have a go at the Google Expedition Pioneer program. It was a great opportunity and we were all very excited

At the moment, there are over 250 expeditions already on the App and as I was looking through the options for my groups, the possibilities for classroom application had me very excited.

It will be great to visually experience places in history or literary references. It is possible with the Virtual reality software to add depth to the situation of learning and maybe one day, pupils will be able to produce their own expeditions.

So here are a few of my thoughts about how to use this great technology in education:

  • Historically seeing the seven wonders of the world.
  • For journalism, the possibilities are limitless. This virtual reality will give reporters the opportunity to augment their stories by bringing readers to the actual location they are writing about.
  • Students can study the many wars throughout history, being able to experience what it looks like in a war zone.
  • Science sessions can now explore the world around them in 360 degree scenes. Teachers can narrate students through space to expand understanding of classroom learning. You can take your group underwater or high into the air, there are numerous options.
  • Getting to swim with Sharks, fish and lots of other sea creatures.
  • Travel is also possible in expedition. So, if we want students to see the world of the books or geographical place we are learning about, they can walk through the places. Imagine having the ability to transport students to different places that they have never seen.
  • A geography field trip without ever having to leave your classroom.

Here’s how it works:

  1. The teacher is given a tablet and a basic training session to direct the expedition. The class can only view one expedition at a time as it is managed by the teacher.
  2. Then choose an expedition that is correct for the classes learning and then the class is almost ready to go.
  3. Give each student a Google Cardboard viewer that is equipped with a phone already installed.
  4. Go over the rules of operating the device in class, warning students to not walk around or spin too much while they are using the viewer. For students who are prone to motion sickness, remind them that if they get dizzy or feel sick, they can stop and put the viewer down and have a chance to reorientation
  5. Once all the pupils have the Google Cardboard viewer, the teacher controls what the students experience. Teachers can point out areas of interest that will invite the students to follow onscreen arrows to see the area of interest.
  6. There is teaching and learning material already preloaded about the areas of interest. There are also questions of differentiated difficulty available after each image.
  7. The teacher manages the pace and movement of the expedition. It is recommended to use the viewers for 20-25 minutes to avoid any motion sickness.
  8. Students can then engage in a conversation about what they saw.
  9. The tablet can pause the viewers if students get silly and expeditions can easily be changed if they aren’t working for the class.

Our view of the day 

Because the viewers can cause motion sickness, we decided to have regular breaks in between different expeditions. We also created a quiz sheet based on the questions provided in the Google expedition App.  We found this session worked very well, the Google expedition member of staff who joined us for the day was exceptional and could fix all technical problems. He also advised us on tips and tricks to get the best learning experience from the virtual reality software.

The students found the session a remarkable the experience which we plan to extend. We are going to purchasing some Google cardboard headsets and allow the students to use their own mobile phones.

Here is what my students said:

  • “I liked the google expeditions because I enjoyed looking at places in depth that I’ve never been before.”
  • “I enjoyed playing google expeditions because the teacher is able to demonstrate about a location and the students are able to look at what the teacher is showing like if the object was there in real life.
  • “I liked it because we went to different places without having to pay or leave my school”

To see if they are in your area go to the website and sign up

https://www.google.co.uk/edu/expeditions/

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Summary
Expeditions is a venture, based on the ‘Cardboard’ developed by Google, which uses virtual reality to take pupils on journeys to over 250 different locations, the Great Wall of China, the moon and even a trip to Mars! Teachers direct the expedition from a tablet and can identify landmarks or other points of interest on the expedition.
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