Featured project: POKE vocational college brings virtual tours to learning in Microsoft Teams

POKE vocational college has made virtual tours an integral part of their learning environment in Microsoft Teams. This example shows how they are used to increase flexibility in learning and to develop future skills.

Pekka Ouli works as an eLearning specialist at POKE vocational college in Finland. He is one of the early adopters of virtual tours in vocational education, integrating them both to teaching materials as well as student presentations. 

Image: Pekka Ouli from POKE vocational college is an active MIE Expert

Like many other vocational colleges, POKE accepts new students around the year. They come from different cities or countries, and many have previous experience from working life. The increased demand for flexibility and easy access led Pekka to start building a digital learning environment in MS Teams that would be accessible to students 24/7, from school or from home. Here, they could find materials for the different programs and degrees, participate in discussions and get feedback for their work. Being one of the early adopters of 360 degree media technology, virtual tours and their creation with ThingLink became a natural part of this environment.

“In our case, ThingLink is part of the basic toolset that students get when they begin studying at POKE. We train them to use Teams, ThingLink, and Adobe  Students typically learn these tools very fast.”

Video: POKE vocational college collaboration space in Microsoft Teams Mobile app incorporates ThingLink to give students access to virtual tours from their mobile phones.

Orientation to physical working environments

Several areas of technical education contain specific knowledge about the physical space where the work is done. This knowledge is difficult to share without visiting the place in person. For example, if you study to become an emergency room nurse, orientation in the space is an important part of the training.  The same logic applies to other areas such as construction engineering.

At POKE, virtual orientations to the school campus and different working environments are accessible both from the MS Teams desktop and mobile applications. These orientations may be created by teachers or learning specialists such as Pekka or by students themselves. 

“Micorosft Teams is our home base for all materials, but it is great that when our students use ThingLink to create virtual tours, these tours can also be shared with external partners on other platforms and websites, or as stand-alone VR experiences.”  

Image: A tour to the biotechnology campus by students of the POKE Digilab

360 degree storytelling as part of the curriculum

Another use case for virtual tours in vocational training has to do with learning relevant future skills.  For example, at POKE one of the general course modules in ICT studies is called “Future technologies”. In this course, students learn to use VR and AR technologies through various projects. An example of this kind of project was a collaboration with the city of Äänekoski: over 1000 people contributed to building Äänekoski in Minecraft.  To showcase this project to people who did not have a Minecraft account, the POKE students used 360 captures annotated with ThingLink. 

 Image: A 360 capture of a virtual city in Minecraft was annotated with ThingLink and shared on multiple platforms to showcase the collaborative project

In a collaborative project with the city, POKE students created virtual tours from different locations and places that are popular tourist attractions in the city of Äänekoski. These tours were made accessible in the various info points for tourists using VR glasses. Another group of students is currently exploring the use of virtual tours to familiar places in occupational therapy.

Image:A patient in occupational therapy is exploring a virtual tours with students from POKE vocational college

Summary and results:

POKE vocational college uses Microsoft Teams as their digital learning environment, and virtual tours of real-world working environments are a part of this environment. For example, virtual tours to the campus or to physical working environments such as the emergency room and construction sites are provided as course materials in the different learning modules. These tours are accessible on both desktop and mobile devices.

All students are equipped with the same tools from the beginning of their studies. 360 degree virtual tour creation is taught as a future ICT skill, any student at the vocational college has access to this course module.

Results:

  • Increased flexibility for students in different locations to access course materials and turn in assignments on any device
  • Improved access to physical locations (e.g. emergency room, construction site) via virtual tours
  • A new option to develop contextual knowledge of a real-world environment in the cloud
  • Ability to share materials to multiple platforms and invite collaborators to view students’ work.

Inspired by Pekka’s example? Contact our team for more information at education@thinglink.com or say hi to Pekka on Facebook.

 

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