Thursday, February 2, 2017

Get Out of the Classroom With Google Expeditions

Today's bloggers are Kyle Kline and Chris Young. Kyle is a Math Curriculum & Technology Integration Specialist at Delphi Community Jr.-Sr. High School in Delphi, Indiana. He is a Certified Google Trainer, Summer of eLearning conference presenter, and member of the EdTech Heroes. Chris Young is the Strategic Learning Coordinator at Southern Hancock Schools in New Palestine, IN. He is a Google Certified Trainer and member of EdTech Heroes

Over the past year and a half, virtual reality has become an actual reality for many schools around the state. With the introduction of Google Cardboards, teachers have been able to take students on trips around the globe, underwater, and into outer space. More recently, Google has introduced Expeditions to both Android and Apple platforms. Google Expeditions is a virtual reality platform that is run by the teacher of the classroom. It allows the teacher to control what the students view and where they are going. There are different “cards” for the teacher to choose within each expedition. These cards contain leading questions and information that pertains to that particular 360-degree image. The amazement you see in the students faces and the wonder you hear in their voices is priceless!

Currently, Expeditions offers over 400+ trips and places you can take your students. The library of expeditions is ever growing and expanding into virtual tours of colleges and universities, career explorations, and trips through the circulatory system of the body. Rumor has it that within the next year, teachers and educators will be able to start creating their own expeditions! This is going to be a truly amazing creativity experience for students at our schools! We were lucky enough to have purchased some Ricoh Theta S 360-degree cameras and have already started creating our own virtual tours with our images.

This school year, Google Expeditions has made its largest impact in the middle school Social Studies courses. During the fall semester we took trips to Jerusalem, to see the Holy City and the Western Wall, and to Egypt to see the pyramids, the Sphinx, and the arid conditions around the city of Cairo. This semester we are planning on trips to China, Machu Picchu, and back in time to World War II. It will be an exciting adventure and one that will never be taken for granted. The students (and teachers) faces say it all!

Much like Google Expeditions use of virtual reality, virtual field trips are another way to provide rich learning adventures for students. Students learn through experiences, and while reminiscing about our own childhood experience, field trips take up a major part of school nostalgia. With tighter budgets, unfortunately, field trips are less common than they once were, but the power of rich learning experiences for students still remains through the use of technology. Check out this amazing compilation of about 170 virtual field trips that have been categorized for you by content area, topic, as well as price. Pro-Tip: The majority of these are free, so utilize those resources for sure! Check it out: Incredible Virtual Field Trips Resource

Virtual learning is truly in its infancy, but it is advancing at an incredible pace. While Google Expeditions and virtual field trips are really amazing, the innovation happening behind the scenes are almost unbelievable. We’re not sure where this virtual learning wave is going to take us, but one thing is certain…. We’re excited about the ride because we will be able to engage our students like never before.

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