Wednesday, December 30, 2015

3D Field Trips

If you walked into one of Pride’s third floor classrooms on October 14, you would have seen students staring into cardboard viewers, wandering around their classrooms, looking in all directions, gasping in surprise.  It was an odd sight in a classroom.  On that day, our students were on field trips that never left our building; going places field trips never go.  Students floated next to scuba divers, watching deep-sea life.  They stood at the top of the tallest building in the world in Dubai, staring out at the extraordinary view of a country they had never been to.  They visited a jungle in the Amazon, Chichen Itza in Mexico, the Taj Mahal in India, and went on a career expedition with a veterinarian.  And when the bell rang, they went to their next class.

The week before, Google had selected Pride as one of the sites for the Google Pioneer Expeditions program; a “beta test” for a new technological advancement that uses smart phones tucked into cardboard viewers to go on 3D field trips.  Our students not only got to go on these amazing field trips, but they became part of the development process of new software, giving feedback to Google about what worked and what didn’t.  Students gained increased understanding in the subjects they were studying and they learned about how new software comes to market at the same time.

For Pride teachers, this new technology adds an extraordinary tool to help students understand every subject.  Science teachers can have students “visit” habitats, for example, exploring deserts in locations on every continent, so students can gain a better understanding of science and geography along the way.  Standing at the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, they can learn about measurements and cultures. The best part is that these mini field trips don’t need to last more than ten minutes, but they add far more than a simple photograph, or even a video because students are fully immersed; present in the subject matter they are studying

From the experience of our teachers and students, illustrated by the use of this amazing tool, this is another new technology that helps students learn in ways they were never able to previously.  In fact, technology has been able to connect students to the material they are studying in ways no one thought possible just a few short years ago.

Technology has brought tremendous changes to education.  At Pride, we are enthusiastically welcoming that change.  It has increased student engagement and made our classrooms more exciting places to be.  By connecting students to the world-- literally putting the world at their fingertips-- technology like Google Expeditions is contributing to helping our students understand the things they need to succeed.