Farewell Google Expeditions. Now What?
Let me be clear. I LOVED Google Expeditions when it first came on the scene. Cramming a smart phone inside a piece of 80’s tech…a Viewfinder, and getting clear 360 degree views was worth the buy. Google Expeditions magically allowed teachers to easily push out images to a class set, with headsets attached to kids’ faces. For first timers, the sound of wonder would reverberate across the cinder block hallways to other classrooms. It was awesome. Period. Here’s proof.
And Google killed it.
The app was free, so I don’t necessarily blame them. But, secretly, and now openly, I think it was in poor taste. Anyways, let’s move on from that pettiness and look to the future.
This morning I dusted off my Viewfinder, remembered the password to my $100 ASUS Android phone purchased in 2016, and tried to make some magic happen. And I did.
Despite my sadness about the now extinct Google Expeditions, Google somehow still came in and gave me something of value. And it was right in front of me all along. It’s YouTube, ya’ll.
YouTube has TONS of 360/VR content that works just fine in VR headsets…cheapo ones and expensive ones. The only caveat is that teachers no longer have their super powers, being able to push out content to all devices with the press of a button. We can work with this. Really, I searched for 360 content related to the state of Georgia and found useful videos. Ex. nearby aquarium, forestry, historical places, beaches, etc.
Here’s some tips:
1. Search and Filter: Search like you always do…but now, use the filter and select “360”. I typed “human body” and a mega ton of results popped up.
2. Playlist: Make life easier for you and students by making placing all of your fave YouTube VR videos in a playlist. Then share that playlist to whatever platform students have access to, Ex. Google Classroom, Canvas, etc. If you have the tech chops, you can go even further by making a direct hot button or shortcut on the VR device that links directly to your playlist.
3. Expectations: This is NOT as classroom friendly as Expeditions. BUT, it can work with the right management. I suggest starting small. Start by using this new method in small groups or centers.