Google Offering Teacher-Guided VR Class Field Trips

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You probably remember class field trips going something like this: getting your permission slip signed, hopping on the school bus and visiting the local museum or art gallery.

Your kids, on the other hand, could be travelling the world – and beyond – without ever leaving the classroom.

Last Monday, Google Expeditions launched their Android app that, when paired with Google Cardboard, can be used to experience over 200 different field trips in virtual reality. The students connect their smartphones to the Google Cardboard and the teacher uses a tablet to guide the class on their 360-degree expedition.

The instructor can choose a location virtually anywhere, including museums, historical landmarks, underwater and even outer space. They can also add notes and questions to the field trip to educate and engage the students.

The instructor can choose a location virtually anywhere.

The app is available for Android in the Google Play store, and the company says that it will be available for iOS soon. This new app makes VR accessible and affordable; Cardboard viewers start at $15 USD each and the app is free.

Alice Bonasio, a strategic consultant that specializes in technology, told Digital Trends, "Google have kept the Expeditions technology deliberately simple in order to ensure its universal accessibility."

As of right now, the app uses still photography in order to ensure that file sizes are manageable, Wired reported. This is so that Expeditions is still available for schools that cannot access a reliable Internet connection.

A social activity

VR is typically a solo activity, but Expeditions makes it social. This is partly because of the communication between the teacher and students, but also because of the quality of the viewers.

Margaret Rhodes reported for Wired that Cardboard "does little more than fold and Velcro around a smartphone. There are light leaks, and no hands-free head bands. It's not high-tech enough for real escapism."

A higher-end version of Google Expeditions is also available as a kit that includes a teacher device, student devices, higher quality viewers and all of the other necessary equipment for the VR field trip. These kits range in price from $3,999 USD to $9,999 USD depending on the number of student devices required for the class size.

Regardless of whether the teacher uses a high-end kit or the new app for Cardboard, VR could give students the opportunity to visit places they otherwise might never have the chance to go.

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