Close to 1500 Oakdale Joint Unified School District students were able to tour the world last week ‘virtually’ thanks to the innovation of Google Expeditions.
On Tuesday, Nov. 10 and Thursday, Nov. 12 students of Sierra View Elementary and Oakdale Junior High were privy to the pilot program. The program is reported to not go public for eight months.
Sierra View teacher Amanda Hensley and OJHS teacher Danesa Menge were responsible for the Google visit, as both applied via e-mail to participate in the program.
“Amanda Hensley actually told me to apply,” Menge said. “Then a couple of weeks later we both got the e-mail from Google that we were chosen.”
“I applied to and was invited to attend the Google Geo Teachers Institute that was held at Google’s LA office this past June,” Hensley said. “This is where I first experienced Google Cardboard and learned about the Expeditions project that was still in its early development phase.”
Hensley indicated that it was during this training that the educators were encouraged to apply for Google Expeditions Pioneer Program.
“We were kind of a focus group to give feedback about the potential education benefits of developing the program to be used in schools,” Hensley added.
According to information provided by Google “Expeditions is a new product that allows teachers to take their classes on virtual field trips, immersing students in experiences that bring abstract concepts to life and giving students a deeper understanding of the world beyond the classroom.”
Each student was given a view finder known as Google Cardboard. The corrugated viewer holds a smart phone which is synced with the teacher’s tablet. Students were able to choose where they would like to ‘travel’ as a class. As they looked through their Google Cardboard devices teachers would navigate and share with them what they were seeing and experiencing.
“I really liked how you can go on a field trip and stay in school,” Sierra View student Chris Burns said on the Google Survey. “I think that was the best field trip I have ever gone on.”
“It made learning better because I didn’t have to imagine what the place looked like,” Tori Blanc shared on her survey, “you were actually looking at the real thing.”
According to Google “the trips are collections of virtual reality panoramas” which include 3D images and video ambient sounds, “annotated with details, points of interest, and questions that make them easy to integrate into curriculum already used in schools.”
“Google has done an amazing job in making the world smaller for our students,” Menge said. “We were able to travel to places many of us may never get to see in person. Students and teachers alike felt as if they were really on a tour of the moon, the Great Barrier Reef and or Mount Fuji.
“Students were excited about being at school learning,” Menge concluded. “Win!”