Google Expeditions is a brand new VR experience that is available to schools who are interested in exploring virtual field trips as a way to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom. I recently wrote a guide about how to get started with Google Expeditions because I have had a lot of hands-on time with this technology recently. However, these things are expensive, so I wanted to take some more time to explore the possibility of building your own Google Expeditions kit for a fraction of the price of a full retail set.
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How Much Are Google Expedition Kits?
Currently, Google Expeditions kits are available for sale in the US from BestBuy Education. The kits are available in student bundles of 10, 20 or 30. Each kit comes with smartphones, Mattel View-Master headsets, device chargers, an Android tablet, a TP-Link router and a sturdy Pelican case. The bundle price for 10 students is $3,999, the kit for 20 students is $6,999, and the kit for 30 students is $9,999. However, there are some other options.
Option 1: Replace the Smartphones
The Expeditions app is available for both Android and iOS. This means you could replace the smartphones with iPod Touches. Granted, the screen size is not as big, (4-inches vs. 5+ inches on the Expedition phones), but the price is right and the experience is very similar. A brand new 16Gb iPod Touch costs $200 direct from Apple. These devices can be managed with an MDM, (just like your iPads), they have access to a wealth of iPhone apps, and they also do double duty as some pretty capable digital cameras.
Of course, you still need the VR headsets. The ones that BestBuy includes in the Expeditions classroom kits are the Mattel View-Master Virtual Reality headsets. These are a little more expensive than your typical Google Cardboard option, but they are sturdier so they will last longer. The View-Masters retail for about $18.
For the teacher’s tablet, you might opt to stay in the Apple Ecosystem and purchase an iPad to lead your Expedition. An iPad Mini 4 can be had for $340 or less right now, while an iPad Air 2 is around the same price. If you stick with the Android tablet that BestBuy supplies, you will be closer to $150.
So, let’s add this up. 30 iPod Touches , 30 View-Master headsets and an iPad Mini 4 is around $6,880 versus the $9,999 you will be charged by BestBuy Education. Now, I realize this is not a like for like comparison. I am not factoring in the cost of the router, (you can use your school’s wi-fi instead), the Pelican case, (other storage options are available), or even the customer support from BestBuy, but it still gives a good idea of some of the savings you could make with a DIY Expeditions kit. Continue reading