Episcopal students and teachers are providing valuable feedback on the latest Google technology. When Google introduced its Google Expeditions Virtual Reality program three years ago, Episcopal helped test the program. Recently, the school had another opportunity to partner with the technology giant – this time on the Google Augmented Reality Pioneer program.
Virtual reality allows the user to explore a computer-generated simulation of a 3-D environment using VR goggles. Think virtual field trips to France or an art museum.
Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world. Think exploring a life-size dinosaur in a school classroom.
The AR program is run from the Google Expeditions app using phones to bring everything from the solar system and the ocean floor to the food chain of a coral reef and the world of ancient Rome to the students’ desks. The 3-D images are accompanied by short text or labels that provide discussion points for teachers and students as they examine the images together from a full 360 degree viewpoint. Recently, Episcopal educators attended a Google-led teacher training on the app in the Aldrich Library. Teachers then brought their classes to the library where they had the opportunity to test the prototype. Teachers led the lessons while the Google representative and Episcopal technology staff assisted with the hardware. Afterwards, teachers and students provided feedback to the Google staff on what features and options they would recommend adding to the app before it is released to the public.
Episcopal students are not strangers to this type of technology. Recently, Middle School science students had the opportunity to use a Merge cube to generate an augmented reality experience. By using the cube and the accompanying app, students were able to get a close-up view of the solar system right in their classroom. The students were thrilled. “I can hold the sun!” “I can spin the solar system!”
Smart implementation of technology truly engages students. The sensation of holding a planet in the palm of their hand resonates with students who have grown up in an age where the iPhone is commonplace and Netflix is normal. Embracing technology to encourage students to explore their world is an exciting component of an Episcopal education. It’s a great example of how we’re preparing our students for the workforce of the future.
Michelle Chenevert has been a part of Episcopal School of Baton Rouge since 2000. A lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Education and Masters of Arts in Educational Technology both from Louisiana State University. Michelle is the Director of Technology. During her time at Episcopal she has led many teacher professional development opportunities and taught an Audio/Video education enrichment for Middle School. In addition to being the Director of Technology for Episcopal, she is a Google Certified Educator and serves on the Academic Technology Team.