It seems like every time we turn around, Google is developing something new or piloting a new idea. Google Glass is the freshest in our minds, perhaps, but there are also innovative ideas that stem from existing technology. Google+ isn’t brand new, and neither is Google Hangouts. How we use them will change, though, and G+ Connected Classrooms is doing just that. Although I am sharing some links and examples of this here, it isn’t as much an endorsement as it is a look into how we can use technology to bring the world to us. Our students already do it in a number of ways, so this is a natural progression.
Connected Classrooms allow budget-constrained schools to take their students on field trips and meet experts otherwise inaccessible to them. This idea isn’t new. Earlier versions included recorded field trips in different areas. Then, it turned to live streaming events. The tech has gotten better and the experiences richer. Richer experiences can lead to richer learning. That is the key here. What are we doing to enrich the opportunities our students have to ask questions, think creatively, and explore what this world has to offer? Searching Google for an answer doesn’t inherently lead a learner to ask more probing questions. As teachers, we need to encourage that kind of reaction to knowledge. Ask more questions! A live virtual field trip has a better chance of inciting curiosity in and of itself. There must still be a teacher presence to facilitate discussion, critical thinking, and questioning, though. What a way to generate it, though!
Here is a video overview of the G+ Connected Classrooms experience.
How would you use this type of technology? How would you encourage curiosity and questioning as part of this experience? The questions we ask are often more poignant, profound, and prophetic for our learning than the answers we seek.
Just as an addition, here is an example of classes taking a virtual field trip to the Seattle Aquarium via the G+ Connected Classroom in Google+ Hangouts on Air.