Google today announced that its launching a new education initiative that will see students taking “virtual field trips” using Google+ video chat Hangouts. Google explains that it’s now allowing teachers to sign up for the field trips through a program called Connected Classrooms.

Teachers are already using Google+ to make learning more relevant, collaborative and accessible—from exploring a world-class art museum to staging a play to venturing into space. 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.

The first locations featured as virtual field trips will include the Seattle Aquarium, the Minnesota Zoo and the Solar Impulse hangar. Google is also partnering with over 20 organizations to that will help organize the field trips, some of which include National Geographic, Matilda the Musical, the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

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K-12 teachers can learn more about signing up their class for a Connected Classrooms virtual field trip here. 

Google is also going to be launching another Google+ Hangout-based service this week. Previously available in a closed beta, Google is publicly launching its new Google Helpouts service tomorrow that allows experts to offer free and paid tutoring and learning services over Google+ Hangout video chats.

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