It’s pricey, but it’s here. The answer to having Google Expeditions as a Virtual Reality tool for classrooms.
It’s a long, long shot from the basic Google cardboard headset that could potentially work with a smart phone as Google once promised.
The cardboard headsets were part of the lure because they had such a hand-made feel to it. The new kits, sold by Best Buy (the kit uses a Mattel ViewMasters unit) start at $3,999 for just 10 students, making it an over-priced nice-to-have for many schools. Way beyond the budget of many schools.
Virtual field trips are great, but some of us will have to wait until the a disruptor enters the field .Stereoscopy or the ability to have perceptions of depth and mass is being put to use in many areas outside of education. Let’s just hope Google Classroom continues to give us less branded, low-cost ways to experience Google Expeditions. We have already begun looking into VR for some of our STEM sessions, as I have mentioned before.
Is Virtual Reality going to become the next toy? It was going to happen, when marketers rediscover the immersive experience that they never got to realize when the wonders of Second Life never materialized.
Now that McDonald’s has got into the game, letting children re-fold the Happy Meal box into a VR headset (just like the Google cardboard model, but a different template), you could expect many to follow. WIRED reports that these ‘Happy Goggles’ (ugh! I just don’t dig this name), will be available at 14 McDonald’s restaurants across northern Sweden.
Coke has also experimented with similar headsets.
Now, to be sure the Golden Arches says they want to be in the education space. How that will go is left to be seen. Edutainment might be more appropriate.
Nevertheless, VR is well suited for educational experiences like we have never known. Unlike a computer screen, the wearable experience could be used differently. We don’t need ‘toys’ in class, though. Just tools.
So I’ve got ‘Google Cardboard’glasses ready, and I’m excited to hear that Google will be here in Arizona this week. It’s part of their roll out of Google Expeditions – a classroom project using virtual reality. A few weeks back I applied to have them come out and run VR sessions, so –fingers crossed — I’m hoping my school gets picked.
So what’s Google Expeditions? There’s a good explanation here on this EdTech site, EdSurge. The Google team is visiting selected schools in the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Brazil, Canada, Singapore and Denmark. Each school will get an Expeditions kit – probably a VR ‘Cardboard’ headset, and apps. I noticed that the ‘expeditions’ feature a wide range of topics from ancient civilizations and rain forests, to space and historical events.
Think of it Expeditions as a virtual field trip, or more appropriately, an immersive experience that you could not get out of a text book – something I touched on in the recent Sri Lanka STEAM workshops for teachers.
In May this year I previewed Augmented Reality glasses – the Google ‘Cardboard’ variety. So it was a pleasant surprise to see that Palmer Luckey, who came up with the clunky but amazing viewfinder called Oculus, is featured on the cover of the upcoming issue of TIME.
The plan this year is to feature Google Cardboard in a ‘STEM Talk’ in my class. As the TIME feature puts it content will be coming up soon that will enable us to learn in immersive environments. Using special or tricked out cameras that could record in panoramic view, students may soon be able to experience life on the Space Station, or that of otherwise inaccessible nomadic tribes.
Partnerships and competitors will soon bring this AR world into the mainstream. As would some GoPro hacks. I’m betting on Google cardboard, though it’s not as good as Oculus, (I could see schools more amenable to partnering with the Google folk, rather than Facebook, which now owns Oculus Rift).
It goes from this
And it’s coming your way! Perhaps soon in my class!