Take your pupils shark spotting under the waves, fly them to Egypt to gaze at the Pyramids or soar to space to look at our Solar System. Whilst we may wish to be able to give our pupils such learning opportunities, it’s clearly not possible. The next best thing is to let them taste a little of such experiences right there in their own classrooms using Google Expeditions.
Google Expeditions is a free app on Apple or Android devices. At it’s best, Expeditions runs on an iPod or smart phone with a VR holder like a Google Cardboard, but don’t think you have to spend money on such things. It’s possible to use Google Expeditions with your standard class iPads.
You choose the locations on your device and it will immediately appear on the pupils’ devices. They can look around themselves whilst you read out some fun facts and trivia. There are hundreds of places to explore, each one with multiple images and teacher notes to make you sound like an expert.
As long as you have iPads (or other tablets) then the whole experience is free. Why not use it as a conversation starter at the start of a unit? Or as inspiration for descriptive work or for a story?
How to use Google Explorer
Your first step is to install the app on all your iPads.
Next, select one iPad as your ‘Lead’ device. This is the iPad you’ll be holding as the teacher. Open the app and select Lead, log in with any google account and then search for the types of explorations you want your pupils to experience and click download.
Open the app on the pupils’ devices and choose Follow and then select your name. These devices are now ready to accept and show your chosen expedition.
Back on the lead device, click play and the scene will open on all devices. The picture is sent directly from your device to the pupils so they aren’t all accessing the internet to download it – very helpful in schools with slow internet connections!
Read out some of the facts from the teacher notes on screen, before flicking to the next image!
Note: In some schools, the internet filters prevent the devices from seeing each other. You could contact your Local Authority to try and get this unblocked, but there is another way around it.
First, download all the Expeditions you want onto the Lead device. This has to be done whilst connected to the internet.
Next, on your own mobile phone go to Settings and switch off Mobile Data and then switch on Mobile Hot Spot. This will connect a temporary Wifi from your phone (don’t worry, switching off Mobile Data ensures nobody can access the internet). Connect each device to your Hot Spot through the settings on the devices and then open Google Expeditions. They will now be able to see your lead device. Just remember to switch off your Hot Spot at the end of the lesson so that the devices reconnect to your school Wifi.