Google Expeditions wants to take you to places a school bus can't
Go to places a school bus can’t: Teachers around the world will be able to take their students on Virtual Reality field trips to enhance their studies thanks to Google Expeditions. - Rhia Chohan
Field trips are a great way for teachers to engage students and give them a first-hand understanding of a subject - but they're not always practical or even possible.
Google’s latest initiative allows teachers to make their curriculum come alive by taking their students on field trips to almost anywhere they can imagine: around the globe, on the surface of Mars, on a dive to coral reefs or back in time — “abstract concepts can now come to life,” says Google, “giving students a deeper understanding of the world beyond the classroom.”
“Google Expeditions” is an evolution of Google Cardboard, which has a central tablet that powers the tour and automatically syncs each Google Cardboard VR set. Teachers, or trip leaders, control the tour with the tablet that comes with the kit, while students catch the tour on their end peering through Google's Cardboard viewer, attached to their smartphones. Teachers are able to send synced three-dimensional 360° panoramas to each student’s viewer. Google has been testing Expeditions over the last year in about 100 classrooms, The New York Timesreports.
“On a frigid spring morning in Ontario, Canada, a classroom full of fifth-graders visited the Galapagos Islands, discovering and classifying animals for a lesson on Charles Darwin,” says Jennifer Holland, Program Manager, Google for Education.
“Students at Mariano Azuela Elementary in Chicago toured the Great Wall of China in their math class, calculating how long it would take to walk from one tower to the next. And high school students in Accra, Ghana, explored Singapore to gather ideas for a paper on urban economic development. These trips were all made possible by Expeditions.”
Expeditions trips are accessed and viewed through an app that allows a teacher to choose a trip and lead a group of students through a virtual field trip by choosing what content they’re viewing and by pointing out specific points of interest along the way. Teachers are able to pause trips to get the class’s attention, play ambient sounds to make the experience even more immersive and let students freely explore on their own.
“While Expeditions can be used on devices already in the classroom, they come alive with Google Cardboard,” adds Jennifer. “Our pilot kit is a collection of all the hardware needed to go on Expeditions in full virtual reality — a tablet for the guide, VR viewers for each student, a speaker to provide ambient sounds and a durable box to transport, charge, and store it all.
“We know many schools don’t have great Internet service (or any at all) so we built Expeditions to work without it. The kit includes a router that allows Expeditions to run over its own local Wi-Fi network so there’s no buffering, dropped connections or lengthy loading times.”
The project was announced at Google I/O's jam-packed opening keynote in May.
25 June 2015
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