The Case for Virtual Field Trips
Technology in schools is at its absolute best when it enhances and improves upon traditional classroom lessons. Virtual field trips are a great example of this. They give students an opportunity to explore a variety of amazing environments that they may never have the chance to visit in person, and it can be done at almost no cost to the school. Virtual field trips are here to stay, and they are getting better all the time.
What is Google Expeditions?
Google Expeditions is a unique classroom experience lets teachers take their students on guided virtual field trips. There are over 200 Expeditions available for schools and more are being added all the time. Everything from the Great Barrier Reef, to Buckingham Palace, and even outer space are available as destinations for your students. Each Expedition is a 360-degree experience that lets students explore some incredible locations while being guided by a teacher who highlights important features on the tour and asks probing questions to help students think more about the environment they are in.
Discover how one Iowa school experienced Google Expeditions
Getting Started With Google Expeditions
In order for you to take a virtual field trip with Google Expeditions, you need some hardware. In the US, you can buy Google Expeditions kits for your classroom from Best Buy Education. They are not cheap, but they come with everything you need including virtual reality headsets, Android smartphones, a tablet for the teacher, a router to connect your devices, and all the necessary charging cables. Each device comes preloaded with the Expeditions app. Currently, these classroom packs are available in sets of 10, 20 or 30, but you can also build a custom kit with only the components you need.
An alternative option is to create your own set. Many parents (and teachers) have old smartphones sitting unused in a drawer at home. These devices could potentially be used to help create your own Google Expeditions kit because there is an Expeditions app for Android as well as an app for iOS. If you can get enough device donations to create a class set, or are willing to let students use their own smartphones, then all that remains is to purchase VR headsets for the phones.
If you already have a cart of iPad or Android tablets at your school, you could, in theory, use those to take part in a Google Expedition. Devices like these won’t fit in a VR headset, but they will still give students a similar experience when used with the Expedition app.