How to: Use Google Expeditions

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What is Google Expeditions?

Google Expeditions (https://edu.google.com/expeditions/) is a virtual reality education app that enables teachers to take their classes on amazing virtual ‘expeditions’ around the world from the Arctic to diving into the wonders of coral, alongside famous landmarks and museums.

Each ‘expedition’ consists of a series of 360° images or scenes on a common theme. Each scene comes with a range of ancillary information to assist with its use in the classroom. Descriptions give an overview of the scene you are looking at. Points of interest (POIs) give detailed information about a particular part of an image. Each scene also comes with a list of suggested questions for class discussion.

Why use Google Expeditions

If you like to bring a real-world content and context to your teaching and learning, Google Expeditions means you can go on a virtual field trip to a choice of over 400 locations. One of the ways of thinking about Google Expeditions is to think of it as a natural progression from the black and white photo in a 1960s text book. Each iteration through colour photography, VHS, and streaming video has done a better job at approximating what it is like to be in a very different location, beyond our ken.

Google Expeditions is best used as an immersive visual stimulus tool; and one that allows for exploration, questioning and flexible classroom integration.

PROs

  • High quality content
  • Good range of topics and locations
  • Immersive experience
  • Low bandwidth optimised
  • Additional information included with each scene

CONs

  • Not designed for independent learning
  • Not optimised for whole class discussion
  • Cost of class kits (other options available)
  • Requires system set up and may not be best suited for first trial of virtual reality in the classroom

How do you use Google Expeditions in the classroom?

Kit needed

  • Each student (preferably) needs a smartphone with a gyroscope and accelerometer; for Android version 4.4 or later, for iOS 8.0 or later; 1GB ram. For further tech specs for mobile devices see https://support.google.com/edu....
  • Each student (preferably) needs a virtual reality Google Cardboard viewer. See Subject Update How to: Quick start to 360VR in the classroom for more information.
  • The teacher needs a tablet device (although a smartphone is an option).
  • Google Expeditions app installed on all devices, from Google Play (for Android) or from iTunes (for iOS).
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) network established, see https://support.google.com/edu....

Choosing a Google Expedition

There are four ways to identify the Google Expedition that you are going to use with your class:

  1. Using Google Expeditions integrated learning materials
  2. Using Google Expeditions to teach content directly
  3. Using Google Expeditions to teach concepts
  4. Using Google Expeditions to provide a context for learning
  1. Integrated learning materials
    Encounter Edu has produced a range of learning materials integrating Google Expeditions. Examples include 'Diving in a Submarine' and 'Exploring inside an Arctic glacier'. Browse Encounter Edu 360VR content which are linked to full lesson plans in the Teacher Resources section.
  2. Teaching content directly
    You may be teaching a topic where there is a Google Expedition directly related to that topic. An example might be the polar regions or space. Search the Google Expeditions app.
  3. Teaching concepts
    Concepts are abstract and often tricky for students to visualise or grasp. If you are teaching friction in Science, you could try to find a mountain-based Google Expedition. For math, think about an urban setting for looking at different ratios or fractions.
  4. Context for learning
    Many of the Google Expeditions will be useful for adding a real-world context for different topics. Most obvious would be in English language classes using different contexts for creative and non-fiction writing. Modern foreign language teachers can also choose Google Expeditions from their target language and ask students to speak or write about what they see.
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