Student Well-Being Opinion

Google Expedition Brings The World Into The Classroom

By Starr Sackstein — November 15, 2015 3 min read
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Although I’m not fond of having disruptions in my classroom, I’ll take this kind of interruption any day.

My school was offered the opportunity to try out the new Google Expedition Pioneer program and who could pass up on that?

Right now there are over 100 expeditions already prepared and as I was looking through my options for my classes, the ideas for classroom application had my head spinning.

No more just reading about the places in history or literary references, now, we can take our students there to add depth to the context of learning and maybe one day, students will be able to create expeditions of their own.

So here are some initial thoughts about how to use this great technology in education:

  • Science classes can now explore the world around them in 360 degree panoramas. Teachers can talk students through space and other points of interest to deepen understanding of classroom learning. From underwater, to high into the air, there are many options.
  • Travel is also possible in expedition. So if we want students to see the world of the texts or history we are studying, they can walk through the places we speak of. Imagine being able to actually transport students to literary London during a class period and talk about the specific sites that Dickens and other English authors discuss.
  • Historical events come to life as well as students can explore different aspects of the many wars throughout history.
  • For journalism the possibilities are limitless. This technology will give reporters the opportunity to amp up their stories by bringing readers to the actual location they are writing about. The New York Times capitalized on this recently, giving away the cardboard viewer to experience one of their stories. There is an app associated with it, where readers are now viewers of news adding another sense to the learning experience.

Here’s how it works:

  • The teacher is provided a tablet to control the expedition. The whole class can only view one expedition at a time as it is controlled by the teacher. Select an expedition appropriate for class learning and then the class is almost ready to go.
  • Provide each student with a Google Cardboard viewer that is prepared with a phone already installed.
  • Go over the rules of using the device in class, cautioning students to not walk around or move too much while they are using the viewer. For people who are prone to motion sickness, remind them that if they get dizzy or nauseated, they can put the viewer down and have a chance to compose themselves.
  • Once all of the students have the viewers, the teacher controls what the students see. Teachers can point out spots of interest that will come up on the viewers with arrows to follow. There is information that is already preloaded with information to those spots. Teachers can add class information in these spaces. There are also questions of varying difficulty available after each image.
  • The teacher controls the pace and movement of the expedition. It is suggested to use the viewers for 20-25 minutes to avoid any motion sickness.
  • Students can then engage in a conversation about what they saw.
  • The tablet has the ability to pause the viewers if students get out of hand and expeditions can easily be changed if they aren’t working for the class.

Because the viewers can cause motion sickness, we stopped between views to let kids acclimate to their surroundings and had discussions about what we were seeing. Students had a wide variety of responses, but almost all of them loved it.

Check out the replay of this Periscope of students using the devices.

Consider the conversation that the students had about the implications of this technology in journalism.

We also had the opportunity to speak with the Google representative Nick about the technology itself. He did a great job of helping students understand how the images were gathered. Check out that conversation here.

This technology can greatly change the way we experience learning. Since most of us can’t afford to take kids out of the classroom all of the time, this is a great alternative to bringing the places, both far and near, to them.

In what ways can you see Google Expedition adding to the learning experiences in your own classroom? Please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.