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Google Expeditions Pioneer Program

November 06, 2015

By Pam Loft

It is August and planning for the allocated two class field trips must be completed so that they can be included in the school budget for the year. A check must be made with the administration to see which days are available with no sports events that might conflict with the use of the buses and drivers. Once the event is confirmed, the search for reliable chaperones willing to help oversee the safety and wellbeing of the students must be found. Reservations with the site to be visited must be made and confirmed. Finally permission notes must be sent home and returned with parent’s signature. Arrangements must be made for any student who does not have permission to make the trip. Oh have I forgotten anything? I am so looking forward to returning from this field trip!

Does this sound familiar? How would you like to forget that scenario and just announce a wonderful surprise for the class today? We are going to visit the aquarium, the moon, or to the pyramids in Egypt without leaving the class room. Google has made that type of announcement possible for a select group of schools.  It is a pilot project at this time. To take part in the pilot program requires that several teachers in a school get together and make contact with Google at their web site Expeditions Pioneer Program  . The program is open to classrooms of third grade up to college level and will go through this school year.

The classrooms that become part of the project will get a one day opportunity to have a Google cardboard for each student; an ASUS smart phone to fit into each viewer; a tablet from which the teacher controls the lesson and a special router that relays the signal between the devices.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/09/28/google-rolls-out-virtual-reality-field-trips/72825732/

Teachers use an app to guide the trips and can pause excursions when they want to ask students questions.

The Expeditions are planned to be to places and events that are not likely to be easily accessed such as the solar system, the ocean, famous or historic locations. There are partners developing content like art museums, history museums, orchestral concerts as well as treks through remote locations. Alchemy VR has been working on a series of Expeditions … The Expeditions focus on a variety of curriculum topics – from Biology to Natural History – with some featuring the acclaimed naturalist David Attenborough. 

http://www.alchemyvr.com/alchemy-vr-and-google-bring-virtual-reality-to-classrooms-around-the-world/

 

Google is currently offering Expeditions free to schools, but the company may eventually charge for the systems.

“I would certainly see a scenario where we sell these kits to schools,” Mr. Schrom said. “It depends on how successful we are at driving the costs down to an accessible place.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/29/technology/google-virtual-reality-system-aims-to-enliven-education.html?_r=1

 

If this pioneer program is successful, it is likely that this type of kit will become available for purchase by schools for regular inclusion in their curriculum. This time technology should fit more smoothly into the classroom. There is no requirement to rearrange the desks and chairs, no time spent in setup or transport of cumbersome equipment and no need to darken the room for viewing.





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