(Photo courtesy Julie Millan)
My first thought as the day unfolded was that the hype about Google Expeditions is well-deserved: this is one amazing tool. Students and teachers alike were enthralled from the beginning of the day to the end. Led by Chris Zhu from Google, teachers were able to choose from a list of about 100 different expeditions to try out with their students and we were given a brief training on how to use the app prior to our sessions.
The premise of the app is that you can take your students on virtual field trips around the world. The places we visited included: The Great Barrier Reef, The Moon, the Seven Wonders of the World, a rainforest in the Congo, and much more (in the rainforest, the students came face to face with a gorilla which provoked a lot of screams!)
However, you DO need the Google Cardboard viewers and devices (smartphones) to insert into the viewers to experience virtual reality. Fortunately, the Google Expeditions leader supplies these for your students: Chris came with 60 viewers and devices for us to use, so we were able to rotate many classes during the entire day.
Unfortunately, the Expeditions kit is not yet available to the public: Chris told us that it won’t be available until the end of the year. This means that the only way that you will get to experience the full Google Expeditions repertoire is if a Google rep comes to your school to demonstrate it. Many schools have applied but only a few get chosen.
If you are going to the EdTechTeam Ontario GAFE Summit on April 9/10 in Kitchener, you can experience Google Expeditions yourself! Yup, you read that right. Thanks to Google head office in Toronto, we have managed to secure a full kit of Google Expeditions (30 Android devices, 30 Google Cardboards, 1 teacher’s tablet) for the entire weekend. Sandra and I will be providing sessions all weekend long, allowing teachers a hands-on experience with the Expeditions app and Virtual Reality.
If you can’t make it to Kitchener, however, we have put a mini-presentation together with links to many Virtual Reality apps you can explore right away (but no Google Expeditions). For more information, you can also read Holly Clark’s blog post or Rolland Chidiac’s blogpost. In addition, Molly Schroeder has some great resources here, and Jim Sill’s resources are here.