Just as Google brings information and news from around the world at your finger-tips using its search engines, Google Expeditions bring the world to you using Virtual Reality technology. Expeditions are essentially a VR teaching tool that let you lead or join immersive virtual trips anywhere around the world and beyond. You can visit historical landmarks, dive underwater, or even walk the surface of the moon.
As important and impactful as they are, field trips are an expensive learning experience. But Expeditions offer an affordable alternative within the premises of the classroom. Built as a social platform for the classroom environment, Expeditions allow a teacher to act as a guide as they take their students on a digital journey through a collection of images merged into a 360 degree environment for exploration and learning. The teacher also has the control to slow down the pace of the expedition and to direct the students towards specific information or the key points of a location, get their attention by pausing the expedition and also keep track of what the students are working on during a session.
Expeditions are very easy to use as well. You just need to download the Expeditions app, drop your phone into a viewer such as Google Cardboard or head-mounted VR gear, and get ready for an adventure.
How is Virtual Reality Education improving results?
Google Expeditions promote the practice of collaborative, immersive learning endorsing the concepts: “learn by doing” and “acquire knowledge by experiencing”. The immersive, virtual simulations leaving them with memories that help visualize and understand even the most complex subjects. Furthermore, Expeditions are also a social application where students can share their experience, discuss it and exchange ideas, which facilitates group learning, interaction and team work.
Having served millions of students during its Expeditions Pioneer Program, Google continuously worked in collaboration with teachers and students to further improve Expeditions. Within the confines of classrooms, creating VR and innovative 360 environments not only makes the students’ learning experience highly interactive and real but also in many cases, safe and risk-free such as learning about archeological digging.
Studies have shown that, on average, a huge 86% students in 3D classrooms showed improvements in test results, whereas only a 52% showed any improvement using traditional teaching techniques. The research further found that the attention levels of the students was extremely high in 3D lessons with a 92% of the class being attentive compared to 46% in a traditional classroom. The immersive environment also inspired even the shy kids to participate in class activities [BBC Report]
On the part of teachers, Expeditions are just as useful for teachers enabling them to teach better. The Guide mode actually lets the teachers preview a tour before taking the students on it which is useful for their own understanding and preparation in order to impart deeper understanding and deliver more meaningful instruction to students.
How to adopt Virtual Reality in School?
In the Middle East, VRXOne is taking the VR technology in schools in collaboration with Google Expeditions. The comprehensive program which includes VR hardware, software, content and support. The VR hardware is extremely simple to setup and operate, and can easily be used over the local Wi-Fi network. With careful planning and strategy, the teachers and students can learn to use the kits on a daily basis in no time. The content currently includes 700 Expeditions, more being included, spanning over different educational areas.
In this reference, the VRXOne Go-to-School program is a good opportunity for schools to take advantage of the free trial of the VR kits, guidance on how to use them as well as taking a free virtual tour in the classroom, in order to get the feel of the entire process.
Google Expeditions with its Pioneer Program has already serviced over 2 million students that have successfully experienced the VR kits within their classroom environments. The response from both the students as well as teachers has been very encouraging as the kit has been designed to fit the needs of the classroom. Where on one hand, students got to learn more comprehensively than any conventional method could offer before, the virtual trips exhibited the ability to have remarkably evoked their interest and as a result, their information retention level by providing an immersive environment for exploration and inquisition. Expeditions also help teachers teach better by igniting students’ natural curiosity and getting them interested in their lessons. Since the way Expeditions work differs from showing mere photos or videos as the students have to turn their heads and eyes to view scenes, students get to “experience” their lesson hence the term “experiential learning”.
Is Virtual Reality according to my school syllabus?
There are currently more than 700 Expeditions available, more being added, providing access to a huge collection of academically aligned and engaging VR content for the benefit of students. The Expeditions cover a wide range of topics from subject areas ranging from science, archeology, astronomy, and marine life studies to cultures, languages, history, geography, architecture and design.
As Expeditions were created with classroom learning in mind, the teachers can easily select virtual tours that align with their lessons and curriculum. With the control in hand as the guide of the tour, teachers can easily direct the students to specific points of interest and keep them engaged in their on-going classroom discussion and activity.
Google also has an “Annotation” tool that lets the guide or teacher draw or scribble within the 360 degree environment using a finger or a stylus which is instantly visible to the connected explorers or students bringing their attention to specific information or features of the environment they are exploring in VR.