Monday, March 28, 2016

Google Expeditions is Here!

Good morning, Eminence!

Welcome back!  I am happy to announce that we here at Eminence have been given the opportunity by Google to test out one of their brand new apps that is not officially open to the public yet: Google Expeditions.

So... what is it?  How does it work, exactly?

Imagine an app that would let your students travel anywhere in the world.

To really understand what it can do though, we first need to go wayyyyyy back in time: Remember the 1980s?  Remember the View Master?


It was awesome, right?  Put the disk inside, take a peek, and you could literally go anywhere: Everest, the Galapagos Islands, Madrid, Rome, etc.

The only problem with the View Master was that the images were always static: they were impressive to look at, but it never really felt like you were there.  

The good folks at Google (the same people who have hundreds of thousands of 360 images on Maps) wanted to figure out a way where people could get this same experience using something they already owned: a cell phone.

What they came up with was a piece of cardboard that they've appropriately called Google Cardboard:

It looks very unimpressive at first first -- very "meh".  But it turns out that there are hundreds of 360 images and apps that you can download to your phone that when loaded up, appear like this:  



The supernerds among us call this the "Stereoscopic View".  It's how a View Master gave "depth" to it's images.  It's the same type of technology that allows for 3D movies, too.  

The amazing bit happens next when you put your phone inside the Cardboard, close it up...


take a peek inside, and...

Whoa.  
It's a full, 360-degree immersive experience.  Turn your head, look up, down, or behind you.  It. Feels. Like. You're. There.  

Now imagine if you had a class set where you could control where your students went: that's Google Expeditions.

Virtual Field trips anyone?


Here's the run-down of how the app works:

The teacher has a tablet with over 150 "Expeditions" loaded on it.  Some of them are tours of historic places (Gettysburg, Independence Hall, etc), others are of physical locations on Earth (Mt. Everest, the Galapagos Islands, etc), and they've recently added museums as well!

Students put their devices inside the Cardboard and you, in a sense, pass out these 360 images for the students to view.  On the tablet the teacher is given help text, guiding questions, and interesting facts for the students to listen to while they are on their "Expedition".

I was playing around with it the other night and put together this quick demo showing how quickly the 360 images can be "passed out" to the student devices (see below):


Right now we have 10 phones in the district with the app.  If you're interested, I'd love to show you (or your students) it in action!

Cheers!

~Mr Piercey
Eminence Independent Schools
Follow Me on Twitter @MrPiercey

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