Thursday, January 7, 2016

Virtual Field Trips via the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program

Would you believe me if I told you that in a span of 30-40 minutes I got to go to Rome, London, and the Moon?

Well it's true! Thanks to the Expeditions Pioneer Program (a virtual reality platform built for the classroom), I got to use Virtual Reality technology to visit those three locations. The Expeditions program is currently visiting schools around the world and bringing with them a complete Expeditions kit with everything teachers need to take their students on journeys anywhere. Thanks to +Carlo Fusco, Teacher Librarian at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, I got to check Expeditions out. I had the opportunity to watch teachers and students use it and and got to try it out myself. The Expeditions Program worked with teachers and content partners from around the world to create more than 100 journeys to make it easy to immerse students in new experiences.

Using a Google Cardboard viewer, a mobile device, and the Expeditions app, I got to go on a field trip with the students who were part of the class. Here are some photos of the cardboard viewer with the mobile device placed in it:

The teacher/leader has a tablet that acts as the 'control' for the trip. On the tablet, the teacher can control the specific destination, can see what the students are looking at, and has access to information about the particular area that is being viewed in order to provide valuable information about the location.

When I visited the moon, I had free reign to look at what I wanted to see (360 degree view). When the teacher wanted me to look at something in particular, an arrow would appear on my screen to tell me what direction to move to in order to see what the teacher would be talking about. The teacher's tablet (the brains of the operation) acts as a lesson plan of sorts and it is connected to all the viewers.

Aside from enjoying the virtual reality experience of going somewhere I had never been before, it was a lot of fun watching the students as they held the viewer to their face and moved around in circles looking up and down.

(Click here for a blog post by +Sylvia Duckworth on Google Expeditions and here for a post by +Holly Clark)

Here is some footage (not that good but I did my best!) that I got with my smart phone of what you view when you move around:

London, England. Going towards the Ferris Wheel.

I don't remember the location, but I think we are getting ready to go up in a Balloon.

This was a really neat experience. I'm excited about the potential and look forward to seeing what happens next with Expeditions and its program.

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