What My Students Think About #GoogleExpeditions

12/7/2015 12:10:00 AM

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of participating in the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program. I helped organize the day, recruit teachers, and facilitate the field trips, which I wrote about in a previous post: My Day With Google Expeditions. I loved the engagement, wonder and possibilities that Expeditions provided, and was thrilled to bring it to Ossining. 

The next day, I asked both students and teachers for immediate feedback to explore what they thought, too. The results were clear: students and teachers enjoyed Expeditions and liked learning from and with them, but there is room for improvement. They were excited by the 360 degree functionality and the graphics, but many felt uncomfortable with the Cardboard devices, and some even nauesous. A handful asked for more interactivity, like sound, video, and higer resolution images. Some teachers said that it was hard to plan for because the Expedition descriptions are vague and can't be previewed beforehand. And all of these criticisms are spot on. 

But so are the good things. They want to do it again. They want to create and have students create their own. And they realize the potential for Google Expeditions to change education. 

The Survey

Below, find an overview of the data from this survey from eight teacher and 146 student participants. The survey included eight quantitative questions, with a response scale of Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree, and five qualitative questions. They all asked about students' enjoyment, learning, comfort, and desire for more. Screenshots of the form results summary and pull quotes form the qualitative questions are excerpted blow. Find the survey here and the full results linked at the bottom of this post. 

What My Students Think


  • "i thought it was a cool experiment but if we were able to mover around more i think it would be a more fun and engaging experience"
  • "I liked the google expeditions because I liked seeing places in depth that I've never been before. I didn't really like it because I almost threw up the period after."
  • "I enjoyed using google expeditions because of the fact that the teacher is able to teach about a location and the students are able to be looking at what the teacher is teaching like if one was there in real life. Also if the teacher wants to show you something specific in the expedition he/she can pick a spot and on everyone's expedition it will show an arrow to where the teacher wanted to show you. What i didn't like was the fact that it made you nauseous after using it. It makes you want to not look at the expedition as much."
  • "I liked it because we went to different places without having to pay or leave, i didn't like how it hurt my nose and eyes, it also gave me a headache."
  • "I disliked google expeditions due to the fact that you're pretty much just looking at a fancy photo, you aren't getting the actual experience of a field trip. It would just be easier for a teacher to give a power point with images from the location and give the class questions."
  • "We talk about so many different places within classes that you would think we would never be able to see or visit, but expeditions gives students a chance to actually see places a little more realistically than in pictures."
  • "It really encompassed a new learning experience that I would like to use as it gave real life experiences in a classroom setting, allowing it to stay put in our memory."
  • "It allows me to see visually what my teacher is lecturing on which is really helpful in remembering certain details. It's easier to remember what my teacher says if I can link it to images in my mind. It's much better than looking at a single square picture, instead I feel like I'm having an experience in the expedition."
  • "Google Expeditions was a good companion to a lesson because it engaged the class (though part of this was likely just the novelty of it, and a class would not be so excited about a Google Expedition lesson if such lessons were commonplace), but it could not function as a lesson in itself. Google Expeditions would be a good enhancement to learning if it were integrated into lessons in which a concept that is difficult to picture in one's mind is being explained, or in which the teacher wants to greater the students' understanding of a specific location or scene."
  • "Google Expeditions enhances learning because it allows students to travel to the place they are learning about without ever leaving the classroom. Being able to see a place in a 3-D sense replaces the need for 2-D pictures that a student would normally see on a power point slide."
  • "My experience with Google Expeditions was great. I liked that you are able to look at different places and learn about the places. It is a good learning experience. Something that i disliked is that after a while it starts to hurt your eyes and after a long time it starts to give you a headache."
  • "It was a nice idea, but could be improved. The device itself was uncomfortable, especially the lens; it would make me a little disorientated after use for a few minutes. The lens also make the image blurrier than the phone image, which just ruins the experience. A third and final complaint which is not as big of an issue as the others is having to hold it. It would nice if there was a strap or something that would make it hands-free."
  • "I think it just took time away from actual learning I don't think it accomplished much, besides making a group of 20 kids nauseous. Also you don't learn much because kids are too busy fooling around looking at the image instead of listening to the teacher."
  • "I just wish it was more in place so I would not feel nauseous and dizzy."
  • "It would be great if the dizzy/nausea factor could be removed."
  • "Google Expeditions would be improved if it had more options for student class participation, such as allowing students to input responses or add the arrows that the teacher used during the sample lesson from their own goggles/devices."
  • "What prevented the complete immersion was looking at the tops and bottoms of the photosphere." "They're either empty, distorted or had a sort of watermark."
  • "Google Cardboard could be using in conjunction with YouTube to view the 360 videos."
  • "If I could create my own Expedition, I would make one of Hogwarts (from Harry Potter), and I think it could also have a great application in other fantasy scenes. However, I also think it would be great to make Expeditions of cell and atomic models (for science classes) or scenes/societies in certain times in history (for history classes) for a more integrated understanding."
  • "If i could create my own, I would travel everywhere. From the past to the present day. Everywhere in the world. Though number one would be Tokyo, Japan."
  • "If i could i would go to the capitol of Brazil because of the nice beaches that are there the hotels and many more good looking places. I feel like it would be cool to go there and learn something more interactive. It espallcy is cool to be able to do a 360 degree turn it makes it even more real like if you were there."
  • "If I can create my own Expedition, i would create one of new york city during Christmas and new years"

What My Teachers Think

Teachers were asked the same questions as students but they were geared towards their students' learning. Overall, almost all teachers strongly agreed or agreed with all of the questions. One disagreed that students were engaged, two on physical comfort, and one on the desire to create or have students to create Expeditions. Otherwise, the results were consistent. 
Here are some of their written responses:
  • "The visual and interactive qualities made it very engaging for the students. My only dislike was that I planned a lesson not having a clear idea of the details or what would be seen. I also thought that the some of the locations could have had more images and details. For example, Edinburgh castle only had a street view, one room and a view from the roof. I thought we would actually be in more rooms and locations in the castle."
  • "I liked that there were guiding questions for the expeditions. My only concern is that some students did not react well, physically."
  • "I was impressed, it was definitely a change of pace for the students. Also, the positive reactions of some prompted more participation from those who were not interested at first. I liked how I could direct their attention to certain things, although I wish it allowed for more mobility to really explore."
  • "Instead of just talking about a place, I was able to bring my students to the place. This is not a tool that can be used to replace a lesson, but is a tool that can most definitely enhance a lesson."
  • "Hardest part of Social Studies is bringing to life people long dead or places long gone. This helped bridge that gap a little."
  • "To improve: Real time? Movies? Sound? Also, many students (and teachers) reported feeling motion sickness."
  • "I would like the students to be able to read the info and see questions on their devices. Also, I worry that after a few expeditions the novelty might wear off. Any way to make it more interactive for the individual would help."

The Full Data

Getting to participate in the Pioneer program was awesome, and I'm glad I now have the data to prove it. Share your experiences with or ideas for Expeditions in the comments or on Twitter. Also, you can find more data and responses in the links below.

cross posted at www.aschoenbart.com

Adam Schoenbart is a high school English teacher, Google Education Trainer, and EdD candidate in Educational Leadership. He teaches grades 10-12 in a 1:1 Chromebook classroom at Ossining High School in Westchester County, NY and received the 2014 LHRIC Teacher Pioneer Award for innovative uses of technology that change teaching and learning. Read more at The SchoenBlog and connect on Twitter @MrSchoenbart.

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