DELAVAN — Delavan-Darien School District students will not want to miss school on April 12 and April 13.
A team from Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program is coming to Delavan-Darien schools those days to let students take field trips around the world without getting onto a bus.
The Expeditions program is a virtual reality platform built for the classroom. Google’s engineers and developers worked with teachers and content partners from around the world to create more than 150 engaging virtual journeys — from the Amazon rainforests to Yellowstone National Park, even into outer space. The virtual reality environment makes it easy to immerse students in entirely new experiences that they might not otherwise experience in their lifetimes.
“We can take kids, virtually, to locations where they’ve never been before, and this amazing technology is just going to expand,” said David Hall, a district technology integrator. “There’s no doubt that being there in person is the best option, but Google already has dozens and dozens of these virtual trips that kids can take to places they might otherwise never be able to explore.
To learn more about the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program and “Google Cardboard,” please visit:
The system uses the “Google Cardboard” viewer, which is a low-cost cardboard viewfinder that works with just about any modern smartphone. The lenses in the viewfinder make the stereoscopic images on the phone look three-dimensional, and the angle of view changes as the person rotates his or her head and body.
Google teams will come to Delavan-Darien schools with 60 viewing kits and smartphones for the students to take these virtual field trips and gain a deeper understanding of the world beyond the classroom.
Teachers will get to select the “destinations” and the entire classroom can explore together in the 360-degree, spherical environment that includes ambient sounds, annotated details, points of interest and questions that make the experience something that can be discussed as a class.
Google partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Society, PBS, the American Museum of Natural History, the Planetary Society and the Palace of Versailles to develop curriculum for the students related to some of the virtual environments.
Having visited many schools across the United States and in other countries throughout the world, Google officials have said the expeditions provide unparalleled opportunities for supplemental learning. Google’s field teams are seeing brilliant ways teachers integrate virtual reality into their classes.
“A lot of teachers are formulating plans with what they can do with this type of experience and technology after the virtual field trips,” Hall said. “The teachers who have seen and used this technology are really excited about it. I suspect that if this goes well we will be looking for donations of used smartphones and maybe making some cardboard viewers.”
Hall said the plan is to have as many classes as possible take different trips so students can experience and discuss as many of the different things they’ve seen, learned and experienced. The teachers will try to relate each virtual tour to the curriculum and subjects they already teach.
“We don’t want to make this special day only about the technology,” Hall said. “It should be about the various learning experiences for all of our students. The technology is just really great a support tool.”