Google expeditions takes users on a 360 degree “virtual tour” using virtual reality. Users have an immersive experience as the leader takes them from scene to scene, highlighting content to explore and adding commentary as required. The explorers have an arrow appear on their screens that shows them where to look. The leader can also see where everyone is looking. Being able to look all around different scenes adds different dimensions and can stimulate great inquiry and questioning. The applications for learning are exciting! Read more about Google Expeditions here edu.google.com/expeditions

The basics of how Google Expeditions works:

  1. The leader and followers need to all have the Google expeditions app on a device (available for all smartphones and devices)
  2. The lead and explorers need to be on the same wifi network (see recommendations below)
  3. Explorers “follow” a guide
  4. Devices need to be put into a Virtual Reality headset (like Google Cardboard – recommendations below)
  5. The Guide then starts a tour and guides the explorers giving commentary, and asking questions. The guide leads explorers to a “scene” and then chooses content to highlight. The lead then moves on to other content in that scene or moves to another scene.

Getting setup for Google Expeditions:

Google Expeditions is free but some simple setup and gear is required.

  1. Headsets: can be purchased cheaply. A recommendation is to get ones with a decent sized lense. We tried a few and settled on “Google Cardboard” ones on eBay from AmazingVR for about $11 (you may be able to find cheaper just test first before buying a set)
    NOTE: We don’t use the head straps and have done some PVA gluing to make them more robust. Be careful that teh phone is held in place well. The button actually just transfers your touch to the centre bottom of the screen. It is not needed for Google expeditions but is useful for other VR apps.
  2. Wifi: Many schools have challenges with staff, students and guests not being on the same domain or network. This can be easily solved by buying a wifi router and setting it up so that all users join the same wifi network. No internet is required foir the tour once users have the app installed and the leader has the expedition downloaded on their device. We chose an Apple Airport Express for $150. It is pretty bomb proof! and took 5 minutes to setup. We just called it “google Expeditions” and set a super simple password that gets written on the board.
  3. Devices: we are fortunate that most students in the high school have a smartphone of one form or another. Devices can be bought to be specifically used but the cost is very prohibitive. It may be good to get a couple to supplement when students don’t have devices. NOTE: an iPad can be used in “cardboard” mode. It was just a bit blurry for me though. Also be very careful not to drop it!

Other Content:

At the moment, you can’t create your own Google expedition content. But you can collect 360° panoramas and upload them to a website for users to have experience of where you went. This could have great applications for collecting material while on a tour! Stay tuned!! We hope to get some content about this up soon.

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