Many of you are familiar with the app Google Expeditions, which provides access to numerous educational content in augmented reality (AR) and virtual (VR). The site Creator Tower, on the other hand, offers its users the possibility of creating their own immersive tours using 360 ° content. It is a very sad news that we learn there, but these two services will cease to exist soon, more precisely on June 30, 2021.
However, this news does not eclipse the possibilities of immersive technology in learning. Here's why.
Receiving an email advising of the end of service was a shock. I must admit that at first glance, I thought it was fake news. And yet no: the information was also good relayed on the blog of Google dedicated to education.
This article tells us more interesting information about the future of immersive content. Thus, the application Arts and culture should accommodate the majority of content from Google Expeditions. Arts and Culture already has great features and a large number of pedagogically interesting content. We therefore hope that the transfer will not lose content that was tailor-made for our courses (a bit as if we lost interesting objects during a move).
As justification, Google advances the argument of adaptability and fairness. The crisis situation is forcing schools and teachers to review their way of teaching to cope with the hybridization of learning. Immersive content, particularly in virtual reality (VR), would therefore no longer be adapted to current reality. The second argument would be that this immersive content cannot be viewed by all users either. We are talking about an equity factor, which obviously speaks to me, but which, I hope, does not hide a false argument to hide an economy compared to a service that brought nothing to the firm.
Thus, it should be noted that VR content, although it is more striking when viewed using a VR headset or a cardboard, can just as easily be viewed "simply" in 360 ° using the gyroscopic function of a mobile device (tablet or smart phone).
Google Arts and Culture
Yes, I will miss Expeditions and Tour Creator. Google Arts and Culture, however, present great possibilities, which will have to be enriched as promised with the content that will be transferred there.
Available on iOS and Android, completely free, here are a few features that might catch your eye.
- Art Transfer: Take a photo and turn it into a classic artwork.
- Art Selfie: Discover portraits that look like you from a selfie (selfie).
- Art Projector: See the works in real size.
- Pocket Gallery: Browse immersive galleries and observe the works of art up close.
- Color Palette: Search for works of art based on the colors of a given photo.
The possibility of visiting virtually (in virtual and augmented reality) different cultural hotspots, such as museums will also be present in the new versions.
Alternative options for creation
Tour Creator was a great tool for making custom tours and engaging students in active creative tasks. Here are some apps / sites that could also be great options for getting your students into action by June 30th.
H5P Virtual Tour
The site H5P will give you a wide choice of creative possibilities with your students with the functionality Virtual Tour. Small downside: although most of the features offered on this site are available for free, you have to go through a subscription system to take full advantage of the immersive creation options. 30 days are allocated free of charge in order to experiment with the tool, which will suffice for a short-term project with the students.
In order to be able to create this immersion, you must first have a compatible image in 360 ° format (easily downloadable by searching in a search engine).
Second, explore the possibility of creating an immersive tour via CoSpace Edu. Although this site (also available in application) does not primarily target visits to specific places, you can integrate images in 360 ° format in order to build, in a slightly more original way, an immersive tour with your students. Why not in the form of a narrative story?
This announcement should be seen as the opportunity to embark on the experimentation of new educational applications to bring out new ideas and possibilities. Although the current health crisis is temporarily modifying the types of use, the motivating nature of this technology remains intact. It will therefore have to do like everyone else: adapt to better meet needs.
To read, my previous article on the École branchée on this.
Carrefour education also offers you its resources on virtual reality in the classroom.