Quick and easy way to find the perfect Google Expeditions tour
Even after a couple of years working with Google Cardboard apps and tools, I am still fascinated with the possibilities of virtual reality as part of the instruction and learning process.
And, yes, there are other VR viewers and apps out there. But the price (free) and ease of use (super duper easy) of the Cardboard viewer and associated Google VR apps makes it a quick and simple entry into integrating virtual reality into the classroom. I especially like the power of Google Expeditions.
You can catch up with a longer description of the Expeditions app here but the quick overview is that the app allows you and your students to experience virtual reality together – each on your own device.
As the Expedition Guide, you have some control of what students experience while using the app and allows you to direct the learning that happens. I also like that students can switch roles in the app, moving from Explorer to Guide. This makes Expeditions not just a consumption tool but a creation tool as well.
(Want to extend the learning? While it’s not yet possible to upload Tours to the app’s database, you can still ask students create their own “Tours” – researching a specific place or event, finding or producing their own 2D or 3D images, and writing contextual information for each of their scenes. Share their “Tours” with with a Google Sites or Doc.)
It’s a great way to create emotion as part of the learning process and build empathy.
One of the shortcomings in the app has always been actually finding just the right tour to use with your students. There is a search function and several categories that you can browse through. But as new Tours are added, these simple search features become a more cumbersome to use.
Use one or both of these two third-party and online databases that list and describe all of the different Tours available in the Expeditions app.
The first database is a simple Google Sheets that is being constantly updated with the latest Tours. The spreadsheet has several columns:
- Name of Tour
- Names of the different scenes or panoramas in each Tour
- Location of the Tour
- A brief description of the Tour
- Available additional materials (lesson plans, etc)
- Available language translations
This organized information makes it easier to search this database before using the app to find just the right Tour. (To do a search, simply hold down the Command and F keys on a Mac or the Control and F keys on a PC. A search box will pop open and type in your keywords – World War Two or West or White House.)
Once you’ve found a Tour you want to use, open the app, do a search for that specific Tour, and download it to your device.
The second online database is hosted by a group called Aquila Education. It has some of the same basic information such as name, scene titles, and description. But it adds a couple of extra bonus columns for suggested grade level and subjects.
I also really like that the database includes a world map with Tour locations and a series of handy filters that make the search a bit easier to manage. The map updates every time you change the filters.
As with the Google Sheets list, once you find a tour you want to use, head to the app, search for that tour and download.
Both work to make your life a bit easier as you integrate virtual reality into your classroom.