Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Google Introduces Expeditions for the Classroom

By Holly Clark

Take your students places a school bus can’t go!

Nestled at the bottom of South Australia sits a town known for it’s amazing wine and beautiful beaches - Adelaide. This week, however, Adelaide took on a new distinction, it became the home of the world premiere of Expeditions, Google’s new virtual reality learning tool.

(Think of it as Google Classroom, meets Google Cardboard, meets Google Streetview )

Luckily, I happened to be in Adelaide at the same time, so I attended a session. I entered the Expedition classroom with a healthy dose of curiosity and skepticism - but with one look at the table of “cardboards,’ all I could feel was pure anticipation - and I could sense the collective excitement from the other teachers. It was as if we all instinctively knew that this could become one of those educational tools that might just change the way students see themselves and the world.

What are Expeditions?

Simply put, they are field trips from your desk. Using Google Cardboard as a catalyst, Google has put together these Expeditions so students can explore the world. These “Expeditions” are made with 360 degree cameras by a host of Google partners who have created amazing imagery of international landmarks such as the Great Barrier Reef, El Capitan in Yosemite, and the ice-covered land masses of Antarctica. Google hopes to open up a world of knowledge to students - allowing them to visit different locations, experience underwater geographical features and learn about lands far, far away. Someday, it might give young learners the ability to virtually experience a day in the life of an unknown cultures Hopefully, this will allow students to develop an empathetic view of the world and a healthy respect for the cultural differences that makes our world great.

To help teachers guide students through the Expeditions - a “script” is provided from the Expedition content (if the teacher needs it), and he or she can begin reading about the important events in the expedition and point students to important details using the touch of a screen. This touch will deploy embedded arrow markers on the screens of the students. These markers help students find the spot being highlighted.

I got a chance to run my own expedition - and saw first hand the power of this evolving virtual learning tool.

How can we use them in the classroom?

Learning about coral reefs? Why not visit the Great Barrier Reef in Australia? Students can look around as the teacher explains the importance of the reef and how it is supported by the fish and animals (that you can see) that live there.

The future of Cardboard in the classroom?

Version one depends on photos from partners - but later versions might include the ability to generate user content. Imagine this use in the classroom. Students could take 360 degree photos of their own town and make an Expedition of the area - which would include that town’s own unique geographical features and landmarks.

Teachers could assign students to storyboard, collaborate and plan a complete town visit. To help develop writing skills, students could create a script for others to use when visiitng your town via the Expedition site. To foster the application of math skills, students could add information about distances between locations in both miles and kilometers - or gather and then compare/contrast statistics about the area.

Forget about learning California History from a textbook, why not have students make their own Expedition to an actual mission where they can narrate a tour of the area - both past and present.

Where I hope Expeditions will take students in the future?

“Visit My City” - A student created content center. Students would create the content - and people who visit would know the quality might not be as high because they were generated by younger learners. This would give students a place to share and publish their work.

For more information about Expeditions visit this website, or watch video produced by Google. Better yet, you can come and learn more at a Gafesummit near you.

Special thanks to Suan Yeo - from Google for Education Sydney - for the opportunity to be one of the first to try this tool out!

Tighten the Feedback Cycle w/ Google Docs

We were chuffed to sit in on Chris Betcher's LIVE Session on Air from Adelaide, Australia at the sold-out EdTechTeam Summit ft. Google for Education.

Get Session Resources Here

Current educational research tells us that one of the most effective things we can do to help our students learn better is to tighten up the feedback cycle, giving them faster and more timely comment and critique on their work. This session will provide you with ideas, techniques and tools for improving student progress by providing better, faster and more effective feedback. This is really a taster session. It will skip through a range of options for providing feedback to students. Watch below!

Monday, September 28, 2015

#OneNewThing: Student Tech Talks

Week 1 Winner
Gail Abbit, @GailAbbitt
Tech Integration Specialist
Lisbon, Portugal
Going to: Future Ready Prague Summit
Have #OneNewThing you're trying this year? Submit yours to win!

In my opinion, there is no greater learning that takes place than when you have to teach something to others. There is also no greater feeling than when you have an opportunity to shine. It was both of these beliefs that led me to create my "One New Thing."

This year I started my Year 7 Computing class by asking students if anyone wanted to share a tip or trick for using a computer. 

One brave student stood up straight away and showed the other students how to search Chrome using the ‘incognito’ mode. 

Not possibly something I wanted my students all to know, but I was impressed nonetheless. Suddenly, there was a vast array of hands swaying in the air with eager students wanting to share.

To make it manageable (and to prevent any unwanted or illegal tips) I now get students to submit their ideas on a Google Form and I'm starting to group them according to topic. One week we focus on Google tips, the next iPads. They have five minutes to demonstrate their tip/trick (we set a timer) at the start of the lesson and they are able to use the interactive whiteboard or show their screen to others.

We are only three weeks in and so far I have had five students share. I have been so impressed with what they know. For example, one student bought in a Star Wars BB-8 droid to show the class.

“But how does it know where to go?” asked one student. 

“It uses sensors,” the student confidently explained. 

We hadn't even reached that point in the curriculum; I had know idea they even knew what a sensor was, let alone what it did! It just goes to show, when you give students a chance to shine, they shine.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

EdTechTeam Is An Official Google for Education Professional Development Partner

EdTechTeam is an official Google for Education Professional Development Partner. This is a new designation launched by Google in May 2015, with EdTechTeam being one of the 5 initial partners. EdTechTeam is the global leader in Google for Education training. Having been involved in leading the Google Teacher Academy from its inception in 2006 through the most recent international events in 2014, EdTechTeam is best known for their series of Summits featuring Google for Education, with nearly 200 conference-style events produced to date since July 2012, and over 100 events scheduled around the globe in 2015 alone. Through a Custom Professional Development program, twice as many smaller (mostly workshop style) events will be delivered in 2015 as well.

EdTechTeam works closely with many teams at Google, including Google Apps for Education, Chromebooks for Education, Google Play (Android) for Education, Search for Education, and Geo for Education, as well as a variety of emerging markets teams and community outreach teams. Google frequently contracts directly with EdTechTeam to develop training materials, offer consulting expertise, and provide professional development for educators.

EdTechTeam also offers conference-style summits featuring iOS, Moonshots in Education, and Future Ready Schools.

Learn more about EdTechTeam (including our Learning Space Design Studio, Student Device GrantBreakout EDU, and more) in our 2015 Impact Report.

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