GOOGLE EXPEDITION PIONEER PROGRAM
Last summer I heard about this remarkable and quite extensive VR field trip initiative Google was working on called Google Expeditions. I was so excited to learn about it and immediately thought about how my teachers could use this to enhance the curriculum and give some depth and authenticity to our students’ learning experiences. What a disappointment to hear that it would only be a pilot this year, especially after I purchased 50 headsets out of my own pocket! My school was fortunate enough to be one of the pilot schools, and the program is every bit as remarkable as anticipated. Here are a couple of articles from Google’s visit to my school:
- Google Expeditions: Skokie students take grand field trips without ever leaving school (Chicago Tribune)
- Google Expeditions At Hillel Torah (Facebook)
Google is still visiting schools as part of the pilot program, and now they are taking requests for schools who would like to be an early beta tester of the Android App. Be sure to sign up!
OTHER GREAT EDUCATIONAL APPS BESIDES GOOGLE EXPEDITIONS!
Below are a few of my favorite educational VR apps, including some basic info as well is OS availability.
That’s right! One of your most-used apps is now Google Cardboard friendly. You can now view Google Maps Street View in 3D VR using your Google Cardboard headset. Think of the countless ways you already use Google Maps in the classroom. And now the kids can view these maps in 3D, as if they are actually there? You can’t get a more authentic and engaging learning experience.
- Using an Android phone, simply tap the VR mode from within Google Maps. Here are step-by-step instructions for how to use street view in VR mode.
- For iOS you’ll need to install a standalone app called iOS Street View. iOS users can find more info here.
This is kind of the “Welcome to Google Cardboard” app. It has a mix of various experiences, including a kaleidoscope, a visit to an art exhibit, and more. It’s a great app to have on hand. I have a preschool teacher who puts her phone with a cardboard headset out during centers and free play, and this is the app the kids love the most. It is a great place to start. Download it on the App Store or Google Play.
This is a fun game that requires you to search around a lab looking for the required elements to make a particular compound. It’s great for students studying basic compounds or the periodic table. Chemistry VR is only available for Android at this time.
Flashcard VR comes from Quizlet.com. This app “takes you from the reality of sitting at a desk flipping mind numbing flashcards and transports you into a fascinating electronic world where learning is a side effect of the experience.” I’m not yet convinced of the educational value beyond the “cool factor” of this app, but it certainly does make studying more fun. Flashcard VR for Cardboard is available in both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.
Orbulus is a hands free VR experience controlled simply by looking at where you want to go. we wanted to give users an above standard “pick up and go” VR experience that they could quickly identify with, be engaged with and share. We may have actually exceeded that remit- in a real good way. Travel the world, stand on Mars, experience the magic of King Arthur’s Glastonbury Tor, get married, visit the Salt Flats, experience New Year’s Fireworks on Hong Kong Harbour or chill looking at the Northern Lights. Orbulus is available in both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.
This is a cute game to give kids experience with human anatomy. The doctor goes on vacation, and the player has to take care of his patients. The player searches for the patient’s ailment using x-ray vision (kids love that!) Cardio is a fun, child-friendly and gender-neutral immersive experience. There is no win or lose, just come and enjoy the surgery. Watch a preview video here and download the app on the App Store or Google Play.
Vrse calls itself “Storytelling for Virtual Reality.” It is filled with short 3-D 360-degree videos from the documentary and feature-film-making worlds. These stories are probably best for Middle and High School students, but more stories come out all the time so it’s a great app to have on your phone. Download for iOS or Android.
Polar Sea 360
This is an absolutely beautiful 10-part television series and interactive journey that follows sailors, scientists, hunters and artists on a journey through the Arctic’s Northwest Passage. The app captures beautiful landscapes between Canada and Greenland. Download for iOS or Android.
This is an educational app for primary-aged kids, but that doesn’t stop the experience being fun for users of all ages. This free app app shows Captain Clean fighting against climate change to rid the city of Cleanopolis of its CO2 cloud. Players are assisted by Toby the dog as they explore the 3D city and have a go at the mini-games in each of four districts. I think I know what I’ll be doing with students on Earth Day! 🙂 Download for iOS or Android.
Finally, programmers are starting to develop VR tools that allow us to create our own VR experiences. Cardboard Camera takes VR photos—moments in time you can relive in virtual reality. Hear the sounds as they happened, and look around to see the scene in every direction. VR photos are 3D, so near things look near and far things look far. Whether its a vacation getaway or a family get-together, VR photos bring you back to that moment. At this time, Cardboard Camera is only available for Android users. An alternative for iPhone users is Optonaut for iOS, which they call “The Instagram of Virtual Reality.”