Review by Jason Shiroff, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2017
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Expeditions

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Fire up the warp drive to bring VR field trips to your classroom

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (8 Reviews)

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5 images

Pros: These engaging virtual field trips are beautiful and include everything needed to lead expeditions right away.

Cons: Getting enough connected devices and managing a classroom full of VR-toting students can prove challenging.

Bottom Line: With stunning scenes and a flexible delivery method, your students will thank you for journeying together through space and time.

Teachers can use Expeditions to supplement their current curriculum with VR field trips. While VR classroom kits can be purchased, the app can be rolled out with existing devices or in BYOD classrooms.

Giving time for students to explore each scene first and then highlighting points of interest can help enliven the content for your students. The handy travel guides built into each expedition are great starting points for teachers to gain confidence with the VR world. Beginning with a small group of "travelers" may also help teachers feel more comfortable before diving into a full-class VR field trip.

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Expeditions offers a series of virtual reality (VR) field trips that teachers can use to supplement their curricula. Each expedition is made up of various scenes that include 360-degree panoramas and 3D images. The content is provided by Google and partners such as WNET, PBS, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Planetary Society.

To join an expedition, each participant needs a Wi-Fi-connected tablet or smartphone; teachers push the content to devices on the same Wi-Fi network and can pause, play, or change what students see. By touching an image, teachers direct students to look at a specific part of the scene. Extensive support materials are provided for each scene -- such as leveled questions and points of interest -- that teachers can read aloud. The Expeditions experience can be enhanced with a VR viewer such Google Cardboard (VR classroom kits can be purchased separately). 

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Expeditions is a fantastic tool for extending the walls of the classroom. Students will love exploring the breathtaking images and learning more about the universe; teachers will enjoy the flexibility. Guiding students through an expedition that aligns with what students are learning will certainly boost the engagement in your classroom.

While teachers can lean on the included support material or rely on their own expertise to narrate each scene, there may be technical challenges to getting everything up and running -- be sure to test your network and technology before rolling this out with a full class. Also, have your classroom management dialed in before sending the kids off into their VR worlds.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Most of the expeditions are stunningly beautiful. Kids will love exploring the scenes ranging from the ocean floor to outer space. Using a VR viewer makes the experience more magical, but the images are engrossing even without the tech.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Each expedition includes sample narration, leveled questions, and points of interest to share with the viewers. Teachers can jump right into the content and feel like an expert tour guide.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Expeditions has an extensive user guide with video tutorials and ideas for implementation. The app has built-in troubleshooting help to get users connected quickly.


Common Sense Reviewer
Jason Shiroff Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 8 reviews) (8 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Audrey A. , Student
Student
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH
Google Expeditions

Overall, I think this tool is a great way to enhance learning and engage students. Having this visual and alternate reality is highly beneficial in the classroom and only helps increase their understanding of the topic.

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