Getting Started with Google Expeditions educational VR
You will need one device (smartphone or tablet) for the teacher and one device (smartphone) for each student. You will also need smartphone VR viewers like Goggles VR or Cardboard VR to view the content in VR.
The viewer phones will have to have gyro sensors or they won’t work. All iPhones have these. Midrange and better Android phones have them. Install the app “EZE VR” from Google Play to find out if a particular phone has this sensor.
Install Expeditions on all the devices (phones and tablets) you plan to use for your lesson. Designate one device as the controller and the others as viewers. On the controller, make sure you have an internet connection. Then open Expeditions. If it goes straight to the Google Cardboard start screen, close it and open it again. It will then go to the main start screen of the app.
Select “Discover” and look through the expeditions for ones that interest you. There are over 1000 to choose from. In the top right hand corner of each Expedition is an icon, you want the ones that have a VR icon like this.
Tapping on a particular expedition in the “Discover” screen on the controller device will cause the expedition to be downloaded to your controller device. Once it has been downloaded, the controller is able to stream it to the viewer devices over wifi during a lesson. This means you don’t need the internet while running your lesson.
Download as many expeditions as you want and when you are done, you are ready to move onto using it in class.
Using Google Expeditions VR in the classroom
Start up all the devices you plan to use in the lesson. Make sure all of the devices are connected to the same wifi network.
You can use the controller device as a wifi hotspot with the limitation that most phones or tablets will only support 6 to 8 devices connecting to them. If you want to run more devices, you will need a router for wifi, but not necessarily an internet connection.
Open the Expeditions app on your controller device and select “Guide” at the bottom of the screen. This puts this device in the teacher role. You will see a list of the expeditions you saved earlier on your screen. Select one and open it. Hit the play button to start it running. It is now ready for students (known as Explorers in the app) to connect.
On each viewer device, open Expeditions and select “Join”. You should see an option to join the expedition running on the controller device. Select that expedition and then put the phone into the VR headset when prompted. Do this for each viewer device, until they are all ready to be handed out to the students for use.
Controlling a VR Expedition
Once you hit the “Play” button and all the viewer devices are connected, your students should see the panorama that you have open on your controller device. As the guide, you can scroll around the panorama by swiping with a finger.
The panel at the bottom of the screen with the panorama title on it can be swiped up to show information about the scene you are viewing. As you scroll through this information you will see subtitles, these are points of interest that will be highlighted for your students in VR when you select them on your controller.
When a point of interest is selected on your controller, you will be able to see smiley faces representing your students on the panorama on your controller. This will show you if they are looking where they are supposed to. If they are not, you can pause the expedition. This will pause it on all the viewer devices so you can instruct your students.
When you are done with a panorama, swipe the panel at the bottom of the screen to the left to load the next panorama.
More Educational VR for phones
Try Google StreetView. The app supports Google Cardboard and Goggles VR.
To see some great South African featured tours:
Open the StreetView app on your phone
Zoom in until South Africa fills your screen
Click on “Featured” at the top left
Look through the “Featured collections” at the bottom of the screen