As well as trialing Google Classroom this year, we have been looking at a number of other tools and apps. An example of this is Google Expeditions.
Google Expeditions provides high quality 360 Degree and Virtual Reality resources for a number of different topics and subject areas. Some of our student digital ambassadors have already explored these using basic headsets and given us initial feedback for the Sixth Form College library. This term, our Staff Digital Leader in the Centre For Lifelong Learning, Lois Darlington, agreed to research how Google Expeditions might improve student engagement in an English as a Second Language class.
Students were learning to discuss and write about festivals and traditions which take place around the world and in the countries they come from. In order to inspire and stimulate ideas, they were invited to download the Google Expeditions app and explore the resource called “Festivals of the World”. This resource takes you on a photographic tour of different festivals such as Diwali, Eid, the Day of the Dead and Christmas.
The tour can be viewed simply on the smartphone, where you can move around a series of 360 degree images using your finger and view a guide to access more information and vocabulary about each festival. Students are also able to experience the tour in Virtual Reality using VR headsets. This part was more successful than we anticipated as the ESOL students were blown away by the experience.
Using Virtual Reality really helped the students visualise and sense what it was like to take part in these festivals. One student said “Wow, I feel like I am really there”. Another said “it is so interesting!” Lois noticed a definite increase in student engagement in the topic and students were more motivated to complete the follow-up Google Classroom quiz, discussion and writing tasks.
When asked, all students said they were keen to use the Google Expedition resources again and a couple even asked how they could get more involved in testing digital technology for the College (a couple of aspiring digital ambassadors for us next year!)
Lois intends to build on her research and embed more Google Expedition resources into her ESOL lessons in 2019-2020. We will also be training other ESOL lecturers in how to use Google Expeditions as a learning resource at the Professional Development Day next week. If you are interested in trying out this free resource with your students at the College, please contact the Digital Learning team for support.