FEATURED PROJECT : Turn a local museum into a virtual learning environment for schools to overcome space, time, and budget limitations
Jari Simonaho is a technology specialist at POKE Vocational College where he has participated in multiple projects innovating learning environments for vocational education. He trains teachers and students to adopt new technologies in learning. The idea for the virtual museum came from visiting the British Museum in London; there was so much to see, but not enough time to explore it all. This got him thinking it would be great to be able to visit museums virtually from home without any time limits, this would make museums accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
- Develop an experience that increases understanding of local history without time and space limitations
- Let students explore the tour at their own pace to encourage curiosity, develop self-directed learning, and in-depth understanding of contents
- Create a model for developing organization skills for producing materials for virtual tours
- Create a model for developing technical skills for editing virtual tours
- ThingLink for creating an interactive virtual museum presentation
- 360-degree camera with a monopod
- Windows 10 Photos App for editing photos and videos
Note: Editing was kept at a minimum to show teachers and students that expert level skills or expensive software are not necessary to create a virtual museum.
Production in three phases
Preparation: Jari introduced the idea of a virtual museum to a small local museum in Äänekoski that is currently closed from the public. The timing was good, since the museum was about to be moved to a new location. They let Jari in to document the old museum space and its objects.
Documentation: Jari captured three different types of media for the tour:
- 360-images and regular images of the main spaces with audio guides
- 360-images connecting different parts of the museum
- 1-min video clips of curator explanations
- 1-minute video clips about the details of different artifacts
The purpose of using multiple short videos was to help the students stay focused, and to encourage self-paced exploration of the museum.
Editing: Jari included in his tour over 20 different scenes of the museum space. Identifying, capturing and adding all the details to each of the scenes took about 40 hours in total.
The value of virtual museum tours to teachers
Jari thinks teachers can benefit from virtual museum tours in multiple ways:
- Primary school teachers who lack time and resources could use it to introduce local history to their students.
- Tours of familiar places inspire students to create their own tours and experiences and this way increase engagement in learning.
- Museums as partners benefit from these kinds of projects as they can use the virtual tours for marketing and for reaching visitors who could not otherwise access the museum.
Tips for colleagues:
- Make sure 360-camera is horizontally level before taking pictures.
- Always take multiple 360-degree pictures with different exposure settings from each spot and then on computer choose the best pictures for ThingLink.
- Use the remote shutter option, Bluetooth function, or time interval shooting and then go hide somewhere out of the picture area to avoid being exposed in the pictures.
- Reserve plenty of time for a project like this.
- A teacher could prepare questions for the students and then let them find the answers from the virtual museum which means that the teacher could motivate students with gamification.
- By allowing the students to create their own virtual tours, teachers can nurture the students to be creators and innovators.
Result: Students got summer jobs as virtual tour producers
The feedback for Jari’s project has been overwhelmingly positive and other museums in the area have become interested to create similar virtual tours. As a result, the city of Äänekoski hired students from POKE Vocational School to create 360-degrees virtual content for tourism. These tours will be ready after the summer!
Jari’s testimonial: “Well-made virtual history tours can support teachers by giving them an immersive learning environment that’s like a book that the students can walk into. A virtual tour is not limited to text and photos.”