My main research interest in my Ph.D. School Psychology program is how curriculum design can decrease social emotional related behavioral issues detracting from achievement.

Google Expeditions can be a powerful tool to bring lessons to life. “Imagine exploring coral reefs or the surface of Mars in an afternoon. With Expeditions, teachers can take students on immersive, virtual journeys.” YES!

Google has always been at the forefront of bringing free or affordable technology to advance education. Google Classroom enabled teachers to go paperless and automated the entire exchange of giving assignments, completing assignments, grading, parent communication and teacher/student feedback.

Now Google has delved even deeper into solving one of the biggest problems in public education: how to increase student engagement affordably while sparking aspiration and real world experiences in the hands on portion of a lesson plan. VR in the classroom is now a reality with the cardboard google VR glasses that are only $25 a pair. Download the app and voila! You’re on Mars.

The only drawback I can think of is not all students have hand held devices, a requirement for participating. However, a set of 10 cardboard goggles could successfully provide a class VR learning expeditions if students work in pairs and groups of three for a little over $100. Genius, Google. Students can get around the limited use of IOS and Androids by creating roles in small groups while one student uses the VR cardboard googles. (For instance, one student records what the traveller describes as he/she uses the googles and then they trade.)

A list of expeditions is here. Travel to Mt. Everest, be in West Side Story, experience what a scuba diver sees inside a shark tank underwater or go on a career expedition and learn what it’s like to own a restaurant.

The opportunities are endless for teachers, since the chunk of good lesson planning has to do with providing student engagement that allows students to engage with the content strands addressed.

With over 500 Expeditions available to experience, a teacher could introduce VR experiences 3 times a week and still not cover all the travels and adventures available. Where does Google Expeditions belong on the lesson plan? Below are two examples of my lesson plans. Note the “student engagement” portion. That’s the bulk of the lesson in which students engage in the material with hands on (hopefully) activities to immerse themselves in applying the skill or knowledge acquired.

 

If you have the extra $100 or $150 to donate a set of Google cardboard goggles, I know your children’s teachers would be most grateful for the added element of technology and immersive learning for their lessons! A bit pricier of a donation than pretzels or tissues but well worth the investment in life long impact to enhance learning.

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