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(Pocket-lint) - Google announced today that it will be extending the smarts of Google+ Hangouts video chat to allow classrooms to take virtual field trips. This revolution in education is called Connected Classrooms.

While being told you're going on a field trip only to stare at a screen might sound like a letdown, it beats more board work. Plus in less-privileged areas where the cost of a field trip is often out of the question this could draw in new experiences and learning for pupils. In the wake of recent UK studies that found children engaged far better when mentally stimulated, on field trips, rather than being stuck in a classroom, this could be a happy medium.

The first locations that have already been tested are the Seattle Aquarium, Minnesota Zoo and Solar Impulse Hangar. Other partners include National Geographic, Matilda the Musical and the Philadelphia Museum of Art to name but a few.

Google says: "Connected Classrooms aims to make it easier for teachers to access exciting educational content to share with their students. In addition to the virtual field trips, teachers who visit the Connected Classrooms site will have the opportunity to join a Google+ Community with other educators to collaborate on field trips and share best practices for using digital tools in the classroom".

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Teachers can learn more about signing up their class for a Connected Classrooms virtual field trip here.

Writing by Luke Edwards. Originally published on 4 November 2013.