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  • Writer's pictureMark Cullens

360° tours in Education

In the rapidly evolving landscape of education, technology plays a pivotal role in shaping innovative learning and teaching methodologies. Among these technological advancements, 360° panoramas and tours stand out as a powerful tool to enhance educational experiences. This immersive technology not only captivates students' interest but also significantly improves their understanding of complex subjects. In this blog post, we will explore the use of 360° panoramas and tours in education, highlighting their benefits, practical applications, and real-world examples.


Hong Kong City Panorama
Panoramas allow for immersion


Article Index

  1. Understanding 360 Panoramas and Tours

  2. Benefits in Education

  3. Practical Applications

  4. How to Create and Capture a Tour

  5. Pedagogical Benefits of 360° Tours

    1. Enhancing Engagement

    2. Promoting Accessibility

    3. Deepening Comprehension

    4. Fostering Independent Learning

  6. Cultivating Empathy and Global Awareness

  7. Measuring the Effectiveness of Virtual Tours in Learning and Teaching

  8. Conclusion

  9. External References and Further Reading

Matterport 3D model
360 Tour Glasgow University Wind Tunnel


Understanding 360° Panoramas and Tours

360 panoramas and tours are immersive, interactive experiences that allow users to explore environments in a virtual 360-degree view. This technology enables students and educators to virtually visit locations across the globe, from historical sites and natural wonders to modern laboratories and space stations, without leaving their classroom. The interactive nature of these tours fosters a sense of exploration and discovery, making learning more engaging and memorable.


Benefits in Education

The integration of 360° panoramas and tours into educational settings offers numerous benefits:

  • Enhanced Engagement: By providing a visually rich and interactive learning environment, students are more likely to stay engaged and interested in the subject matter.

  • Improved Understanding: Visual learning aids, such as 360 tours, help students grasp complex concepts more easily by offering a realistic view of the subject.

  • Accessibility: These virtual tours make inaccessible locations accessible to students, offering them a global perspective without the need for physical travel.

  • Collaborative Learning: Teachers can create and share guided tours with students, encouraging collaboration and discussion among peers.

Practical Applications

360° panoramas and tours can be applied across various educational disciplines:

  • History and Culture: Students can virtually visit historical sites, museums, and cultural landmarks, enhancing their understanding of historical events and cultural heritage.

  • Science and Technology: Virtual tours of laboratories, tech companies, and natural habitats provide students with insights into scientific processes and technological advancements.

  • Geography and Environment: Exploring natural wonders and diverse ecosystems through 360 tours helps students appreciate environmental conservation effort

How to Create and Capture a Tour

Creating a 360° panorama or tour involves several key steps:

  1. Planning: Identify the educational objectives and the locations or subjects you wish to capture.

  2. Equipment: Use a 360-degree camera to capture high-quality images or videos. Ensure you have the necessary software for stitching and editing.

  3. Shooting: Capture your images or videos, paying close attention to lighting and stability to ensure high-quality results.

  4. Editing: Use software to stitch images together and add interactive elements, such as hotspots, information cards, and quizzes.

  5. Publishing: Choose a platform to host your tour, ensuring it is accessible to your intended audience, and integrate it into your educational materials.

Insta360 Pro2 Camera
360 multi-lens camera

Pedagogical Benefits of 360° Tours

The integration of 360°tours into educational contexts marks a significant leap forward in pedagogical methods, offering both teachers and students a dynamic and immersive learning experience. This innovative approach to learning harnesses the power of virtual reality to simulate real-world environments, providing learners with a visceral sense of place and context that traditional classroom settings or textbook illustrations cannot match. The pedagogical benefits of 360 tours are vast, touching on aspects of engagement, accessibility, and comprehension.


Enhancing Engagement

One of the primary advantages of 360° tours is the remarkable increase in student engagement they foster. By immersing students in a virtual environment, these tours captivate learners' attention in a way that conventional teaching methods struggle to achieve. This heightened engagement is not just about novelty; it stems from the active participation of learners in their educational journey. Students are not passive recipients of information; instead, they navigate, explore, and interact with the content, making learning a more engaging and enjoyable experience.


Promoting Accessibility

360° tours also excel in making education more accessible. Geography, mobility, and financial constraints often limit educational opportunities, but virtual tours can bridge this gap by bringing distant or inaccessible locations right into the classroom or home. Whether it's a tour of an ancient historical site, a walk through a remote national park, or an exploration of the International Space Station, students can enjoy a wealth of experiences that would otherwise be beyond their reach. This democratization of access to learning materials enriches the educational experience for all students, regardless of their personal circumstances.


Deepening Comprehension

Furthermore, 360° tours can significantly enhance comprehension by providing contextual knowledge and visualizing complex subjects. For instance, a tour of a historical battlefield, complete with annotations and re-enactments, can offer insights into historical events in a manner that textbooks cannot replicate. Similarly, virtual tours of biological ecosystems or geological formations can aid students in visualizing and understanding complex scientific concepts. This depth of understanding is facilitated by the immersive nature of the tours, which allows learners to see and experience concepts in action.


Fostering Independent Learning

The interactive nature of 360° tours encourages students to take charge of their learning. With the ability to control their journey through the virtual environment, learners are motivated to explore topics of interest more deeply, fostering a sense of curiosity and independent learning. This self-directed exploration is crucial in developing critical thinking and research skills, as students learn to seek out information, ask questions, and draw connections between different pieces of knowledge.


Cultivating Empathy and Global Awareness

Finally, 360° tours can play a pivotal role in cultivating empathy and global awareness. By immersing students in the lives and cultures of people from around the world, these tours can foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of global diversity. Notable VR projects like the UNHRC "Clouds Over Sidra" and the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford "Becoming Homeless" illustrate VR's capacity to deepen emotional understanding. "Clouds Over Sidra," a VR documentary produced for the United Nations, immerses viewers in the daily life of a Syrian refugee girl, fostering a deeper, emotional connection with the refugee crisis. "Becoming Homeless," developed by Stanford University, places users in scenarios faced by those at risk of homelessness, promoting empathy through experiential understanding.


Measuring the Effectiveness of Virtual Tours in Learning and Teaching

Accurately assessing the impact of virtual tours on learning and teaching is crucial for educators and institutions seeking to integrate this technology effectively. Various metrics can be utilized to measure the effectiveness of virtual tours in educational settings. One commonly used measure is student engagement levels during and after experiencing a virtual tour. By analyzing students' interaction with the tour, including the time spent exploring different aspects and sections, educators gain insights into the level of interest and involvement generated by the virtual experience. Additionally, tracking academic performance following the virtual tour can provide valuable data on the tour's influence on comprehension and retention of the subject matter.


Conclusion

The use of 360° panoramas and tours in education represents a significant leap forward in how we approach learning and teaching. By leveraging this technology, educators can create more engaging, interactive, and effective learning experiences for their students. As we continue to explore the potential of immersive technologies in education, it's clear that 360 panoramas and tours will play a crucial role in shaping the future of educational methodologies.


External References & Further Reading


Author BIO

Mark Cullens is the founder of Digital Energy Group Ltd and brings 30 years of experience in marketing leadership. Working with immersive technologies in the real world of Universities, Local Authorities and Colleges gives him a practical insight into the unique benefits and challenges of using VR and AR.


What is Digital Energy?

Digital Energy Group's innovative approach to immersive content creation. Specializing in 360° technologies, we offer comprehensive solutions for 3D virtual twins, curated experiences, and scalable deployment. Our expertise combines creativity with technical understanding, serving a diverse clientele committed to innovation. Explore how our immersive technologies can transform engagement and impact for your organization


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