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Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Monday, September 28, 2015

Google Expeditions Pioneer Roadshow Launches at Des Plaines District 62!

Perhaps you have seen Google Expeditions on YouTube or experienced it yourself at ISTE. If you haven't you should definitely check it out. Essentially, the program allows students to utilize the power of Google Cardboard to go on virtual field trips to places all over the globe - and beyond!

Expeditions can magically transport your kids to amazing locations like Mars, the Moon, Coral Reefs, the Great Wall of China and more. I'm proud to say that I even helped write one of the field trips, one in which you can take kids to Slovakian caves. My inspiration for selecting this location was my 4th graders' fave read aloud, Gregor the Overlander. They had always asked questions about the setting and had difficulty visualizing it. Photos and videos of caves were helpful but nothing like touring the environment in real life. Now thanks to Expeditions, my kids can have the experience of walking through a cave without ever leaving their seats.

Google Expeditions was announced this summer, but until now, only those piloting the program for the Google engineers were able to try it out. Today Google announced the Expeditions Pioneer Program. During this school year, they will be bringing kits filled with everything you need to go on an Expedition - the smartphones, tablet for the teacher to direct the tour, a router to allow the whole thing to run sans-Internet, and Google Cardboard or Mattel View-Masters.

I'm proud to share that this roadshow kicked off right here in Illinois today - in our school district (Des Plaines District 62) with three of our schools: Terrace, North and Forest Elementaries and at a neighboring high school, East Leyden High (Go #LeydenPride!).

The Expeditions team drove up in a decked out custom Subaru and took our kids to Borneo, on an ocean safari, exploring Gettysburg and even to the Moon! Not surprisingly, our students absolutely loved it. The ooohs and ahhs, laughter and amazement was palpable. We can't wait to see three more of our schools dig in tomorrow!

After spending a few weeks here in Chicagoland, the Expeditions Pioneer tour will continue on throughout the US, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, the U.K. and then followed by more locations as the school year progresses.

If you would like to see your school's name on the list, head over to the Expeditions site and sign on up! For more information, check out the Google blog post.