Over the past couple of weeks, we have had students experience learning with the help of Google Expeditions. Both students and teachers alike enjoyed the opportunity to learn curriculum through a different medium than they have in the past. (We are very fortunate that our school is able to share a mobile cart of phones with our middle school to be able to explore different virtual reality applications in the classroom).
Field Trip to Greece
Mrs. Cooney and Mrs. Hatzidakis (and later Mr. Woodhead and Mrs. Devito) were thrilled to know that Google Expeditions had a Greece tour for their Freshmen humanities students to experience. Based on some reading and class activities that they had already experienced in previous classes, Mrs. Cooney was able to reinforce concepts about the Acropolis and other important Greece facts with two different tours. Google Expeditions provided an opportunity to see the Acropolis from a bird eye view.
Mrs. Cooney and Mrs. Hatzidakis also took it to the next level by having students run their own virtual tour by walking through the Acropolis using Sites in VR app. Students were able to experience the actual location through a series of 7 different 360 images. It was great for students to be able to ‘walk through’ at their own pace to make their own observations.
Mrs. Frizzle in 2017
When Mrs. Morrissey found out that Google Expeditions had a tour of the digestive system, she knew right away that she needed to implement it in her IB Biology II SL course this year. She had told the students that as a kid, she always enjoyed watching the Magic School Bus shows, especially the episode of when the school bus brought the students through the digestive system of a body. To think that now Mrs. Morrissey is the ‘new’ Mrs. Frizzle!
I thought it was clever with how Mrs. Morrissey used the app. In other situations, teachers have had students participate in an expedition and then completed other tasks. Mrs. Morrissey instead started the expedition of going into the mouth and esophagus. Then the students took off the headsets and together the class took some notes. Then, the students put on the headsets again for Mrs. Frizzle, I mean Mrs. Morrissey, to walk them through the stomach, etc. So rather than taking notes first and exploring second, the students explored around the particular part of the digestive system, then they took notes. This idea was a great way of breaking up notes.
Some people might say, well Craig, do you need virtual reality in order to help students understand the geography of a place? Can’t you show an image through the projector and accomplish the same thing? My answer to that question is you do not need virtual reality to teach. However, it can be a great opportunity to integrate with curriculum if done thoughtfully. If you are curious how Google Expeditions, or other virtual reality apps, can be used in your classroom, you know where to find me.
And that is my spiel…