Looking for Google Expedition alternatives? Aren’t we all.
I’m not sure who decided to discontinue the amazing Expeditions app and the equally amazing Tour Creator tool. But, excuse my French, what the heck random Google decision maker person?
Some of your past decisions to end things made sense. (I’m looking at you Google+) But you seem to make a habit of creating some cool stuff and then kill it not soon after. (I’m looking at you Google URL Shortener.)
Expeditions and Tour Creator? Super cool stuff. I never met any teacher who couldn’t find a way to use these tools – especially when incorporating the associated Cardboard 3D viewer headsets. And now they’re gone because why?
Google threw Jennifer Holland, Google’s director of education program management, under the bus. “We’ve heard and recognize that immersive experiences with VR headsets are not always accessible to all learners,” she said. Thanks Jennifer . . . and now immersive experiences aren’t available for *any* learners. Hmmm.
Okay. Rant over. I’m better now.
But now what? What can you do with that big box of 30 Cardboard headsets? Are there similar 3D VR things available and how can you can access them? Well . . . yes, there are some options out there.
First things first. There are still loads of mobile VR apps and desktop type tools available.
YouTube has tons of VR videos available that are great to use with your headsets. Do a search for “VR” or “360” to find the good ones. Try these:
Then explore a few of these mobile apps as possibilities:
There are also two new organizations claiming to have found a way to replace Google Expeditions with a similar app. The first, RobotLabs VR Expeditions 2.0, is a pay to use option with subscriptions per school. Seems like a great option with the chance to get a 10 day free trial. (I’m still waiting on my request.)
The second possibility to directly replace Expeditions is called ExpeditionsPro. It claims that its app is being released in April 2021 so . . . sign up to get notified when it actually comes out.
They both seem like reasonable replacements but without paying money to RobotLabs or having access to ExpeditionsPro to get a true sense of how they might work, let the buyer beware.
So what about Google options?
In theory, Google is moving the different Google Expeditions from their app over to their Arts and Culture site. Arts & Culture is an absolutely amazing site but you lose the 3D effect when you move out of the app into a web-based site. So not nearly as a cool effect as what your kids experienced in the Expeditions app.
Find the imported Expeditions on a dedicated site. Get a simple list here. (You can also find some interesting things on the Arts & Culture StreetView page. And get some lesson plans and teaching resources here.) Arts & Cultural does have a mobile app that also hosts virtual reality Expeditions. But not any way to use those tours with the 3D headsets.
So . . . not quite the same as the Expeditions app with the headsets but still some pretty useful stuff. Google gives and Google takes away.
But what about the creation part of this? Can you replace the very cool 3D VR Tour Creator tool?
Probably not. At least not yet. But like replacing Expeditions, there are some options that can help you and your kids create virtual reality-like tours.
The web-based Google Earth app has a tour creation tool called Projects that is built into the app. It’s not 3D like what you’d find in Tour Creator (though you can add 3D StreetView elements to it) but it’s pretty good. You and your kids can easily use this to create all sorts of tours. Try these resources and example:
There are a few other tools that let you and students create tours and story maps. My top two faves?
These tools can also work to create tours and 3D content:
Am I bitter? Yeah . . . a little bit. I loved Expeditions and I know how powerful and engaging the learning was when kids were using it. Are there other options? Yes.
So poke around and you’re probably going to find something that works for you.