Google Cardboard Onboard
What it Does
Mrs. Sweeney’s Grade One class recently augmented their animal investigation with Google Cardboard. Adding to activities like book studies, show and tell, and a trip to the zoo, students virtually visited the African Savannah and the Great Barrier Reef to see the animals in their habitat. If you’ve tried Google Cardboard or watched others, you’re familiar with the “Wow!” moment that accompanies that first immersive glimpse into that virtual environment.
Why Use It
Using Google Cardboard is be great fun. Far more than merely exciting students about technology or animals, Mrs. Sweeney was impressed with how engagement inspired their observation and sparked vivid descriptions of the animals and their habitat. One of her students enjoyed a clearly immersive moment when, in the middle of a 360-degree scan of the Savannah, she came across a close-up orangutan, prompting a surprised and delighted scream.
How it works
Google Cardboard is a digital update of the old-fashioned stereoscope that was popular in the late 1800s and View-Master of the mid-1900s. Cardboard improves on the static images of these two technologies with 360-degree images or video. One can remain in one physical space and virtually move around an object with head turns to the left, right, up, and down. The Google Cardboard App is preloaded with an exhibit of Rande Cook‘s Northwest art, including Hawk Rattle (below).
Included on the free app is Urban Trek mode, that takes the viewer to some sunny street somewhere. Where is not clear until the viewer turns and looks up to see the unmistakable profile of the Eiffel Tower. The split screen view continues down the street, so the engaged observer may saunter down the Avenue Gustave Eiffel. This is where a spotter is important, because, with one’s mind in Paris and face in Cardboard, there’s a tendency to overlook other things, like desks, walls, and staircases.
It’s still early days, and there are myriad opportunities to be explored.
Google Expeditions links a classroom full of Google Cardboard units and allows the teacher to see what each student is viewing and even freeze screens and direct their attention to certain aspects of the expedition site, such as coral reefs, Yosemite National Park, and Machu Pichu. Unfortunately, Hong Kong is not on the Expeditions Pioneers Program itinerary.
Disney Star Wars fans can insert themselves into the world of The Force Awakens in an app that, among other things, puts the viewer on the sands of Jakku, where they can watch and hear the roar of the Millenium Falcon outrunning a First Order fighter. While this game is fun, more exciting is the potential for immersive choose your own adventure scenarios, whether that mean following a story or performing an exploratory procedure to diagnose a medical problem.
How easy is it to code your own Google Cardboard experience? Read more here.
How Do I Get One?
Google Cardboard is available in a variety of forms, from downloadable plans (Free!) to DIY kits ($7 USD) to top of the line Zeiss optics ($120 USD) models.
We have two models for classroom use and more on the way.
If you would like to pilot learning opportunities with Google Cardboard in your CDNIS classroom, contact LTT or leave a comment below.