Imagine actually visiting the Colosseum during a history lesson about Rome or the bottom of the sea during a biology class. With new technology teachers are now able to take their students on immersive virtual field trips, bringing their lessons to life.
Google’s Expeditions is a virtual reality platform built for the classroom, which allows teachers to guide students in their virtual reality experiences. Taking them to places where the school bus can’t go. Expeditions are guided tours where a guide or a teacher leads the students through panoramas in virtual reality. Each student is provided with a cardboard and the teacher controls what to show everyone. Together with teachers from around the world, Google developed 100 different journeys for the teachers to show in their classroom.
Expeditions teams are visiting selected schools around the world such as the United States, Brazil, Australia, Sweden and Mexico. One of the schools that got the chance to meet the Expeditions team and try the technology was Iolani School on Oahu, Hawaii. During the workshop 50 Hawaiian educators got the chance to enter virtual reality by using Google’s cardboards.
Michael Fricano, tech integration specialist at Iolani School and also a google certified trainer and presenter, explains the technology by saying:
“It’s very visual and highly engaging, not just reading from a textbook or looking at a picture on the computer, the students are being immersed in this experience that completely surrounds them virtually. “
What this means is that for instance, a search on Google on the Eiffel Tower will give students a Wikipedia article and an image on it. With virtual reality technology, such as Google Expeditions, the students can actually go there and walk around and look at it instead of only looking at a picture.
Virtual reality is also a tool for students to develop things. Michael Fricano sees a lot of potential for the students to create their own 360 degrees images and videos, which enables them to create their own virtual tours to tell stories or describe history.
A lot of the teachers that attended to the Google’s Expeditions workshop at Iolani School saw great potential for bringing this kind of technology into their classrooms. They think it can apply to any subject in school, and Michael Fricano said that teachers in math, social studies and language all found a use for Google Expeditions. In line with that, Dana Kapieler, a forth grade teacher at Island Pacific Academy, believes that the cardboard technology is something that could be implemented in any unit in social studies and science. She would love to use it on a daily basis in her classroom but is aware of the expenses.
Google Expeditions enables all kids to see the world. A teacher from an area with a lot of low-income kids said that she would love to take her students around the world, because the majority of them wont probably leave Hawaii.
Most of the teachers see this kind of technology as a great tool in the kids learning processes. They see it as a great complement to regular education with some concerns if it would to completely take over:
“It scares me a little bit if it would to completely take over, because I think human contact is as important as the new technology. But it could definitely be a great tool that could be used every day, not perhaps all day every day.” – Dana Kapieler
Virtual reality in general is something that more people starts to pay attention to and get interested in. Google Expeditions is bringing virtual reality into education. It is hard to say exactly how it will affect the education in large but on thing is sure, it will have a big impact on the schools in the future.
A short video from the Google Expeditions Workshop at Iolani School.