Immersive learning is about to get a lot more real this fall with Expeditions – the new Google tool which will allow teachers to take students on virtual trips using the Google Cardboard viewer. Google reported that over 1 million devices are already in the hands of users from all ages. According to the announcement:
From the Expeditions app on their tablet, a teacher is able to send synchronized three-dimensional 360° panoramas to each student’s Cardboard viewer, pointing out areas of interest in real time and instantly pausing the trip when needed.
Google’s Educational Partners
For now, the content for Expeditions will come from partners like the American Museum of Natural History, the Planetary Society, David Attenborough with the production company Alchemy VR, and many of the museums contributing to the Google Cultural Institute . Students will be able to view 360° photo spheres (with ambient sound), 3D images and video — annotated with details and points of interest. In the near future, thanks to a partnership with GoPro, a 360 Jump-ready camera device will be available, allowing anyone to create 3D immersive VR environments.
Expedition Field Trips
The Expeditions field trips are viewed through an app that allows a teacher to choose a trip and lead a group of students through a virtual journey by selecting the content and pointing out specific points of interest along the way. Teachers are able to pause trips to get the class’s attention.
The ability to navigate between VR and the classroom will enable teachers to create a learning space that is at once both immersive and interactive. Students will be able to hear the teacher’s voice as they walk along the Great China Wall and the comments of other students as they explore the site. The experience is at once personal and social, the kind of space where learning thrives.
Google’s Pilot Kit
Google will offer the entire package to schools and teachers with pricing details still to be announced. The pilot kit for educators for Expeditions will include a tablet for teachers, VR viewers for each student, a speaker to provide ambient sounds and a durable box to transport, charge, and store it all.
And for schools in areas of the world with little or no Wi-Fi, the kit includes a router so there’s no buffering from lengthy loading times or dropped connections.
And More to Come on Day Two
Expeditions will go where the school bus can not – the Moon, the North Pole, the bottom of the ocean. Today it’s Expeditions and Google Cardboard, but we have a sneaking suspicion that more is coming on wearables during day two of the Google I/O – May 29.
Maya Georgieva is an EdTech and XR strategist, futurist and speaker with more than 15 years of experience in higher education and global education policy. Her most recent work focuses on innovation, VR/AR and Immersive storytelling, design and digital strategy. Maya actively writes and speaks on the topics of innovation, immersive storytelling and the future of education and consults organizations and startups in this space.