Friday, December 2, 2016

Travel the world (and beyond) with Google Expeditions

Google Expeditions

Wanna get away? That's the catchy slogan that Southwest airlines uses to advertise their low prices on airfare but I think this would make a nice jingle for virtual reality headsets too. You may have seen the commercials for companies like Samsung and Playstation who have brought virtual reality into the homes of consumers but now these headsets are popping up in classrooms across the country. It's basically comprised of three things, a cell phone that has the gyroscope feature to enable the virtual reality pictures, a headset to house the phone and a set of lenses that view the pictures (usually included with the headset).

You'll find a number of apps that are compatible with virtual reality but the one that I've found most helpful for teachers is Google Expeditions. This is the perfect app for teachers who are interested in taking their class on virtual field trips. There are over 400 locations to travel to within this app. There are many appealing features that this app offers for educators. First and foremost, it's free! But what I love about Google Expeditions is all of the information that is provided for teachers with each location. For each destination Google Expeditions provides:

  • Descriptive paragraphs that teachers can read to students to provide background information while they're immersed in their journey. 
  • Leveled questions to check your students for understanding
  • Focus Points that direct your students' attention to certain spots where Google provides you with more information to enhance your trip 

Another thing that I love about Google Expeditions is the teacher is the "Leader" of the expedition which puts them in complete control and the students are the "Followers". The teacher determines where we go on our expedition and they can also stop the expedition at any time through the use of a separate device, I used an iPad. There are locations that are waiting for you to explore that are directly aligned to the curriculum. We've traveled to a Native American fair to learn more about their culture and how they adapted to their environment. We're flying into space to examine the many features of our solar system next week. I'm really looking forward to that lesson! 

Here's what we purchased and the cost for each:

Teefan Headsets - $15.72 from Amazon   Samsung Galaxy S4 Smart Phones (Refurbished) - $120.00

Be sure to consult your IT department to ensure your district has the wireless capability of pairing the cell phones to other devices, such as an iPad. 

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