Category : Immersive Storytelling

How to Increase Your Virtual Instruction Time Without Putting in More Hours

360-degree images and videos can help students develop understanding of real-world environments outside their classroom, but trying to successfully setup twenty-five headsets for a shared VR experience is not easy. For a while, we have been thinking of an alternative solution, based on the following three assumptions:

  1. A learner benefits from an expert introduction: a teacher guiding a VR tour helps a student pay attention to relevant things.
  2. Shared VR does not have to be live VR. Asynchronous viewing is improves access and flexibility.
  3. Students should be able to revisit the experience and explore at their own pace.

When Google launched Expeditions in 2015, ThingLink team started getting two kinds of emails from teachers. Most wanted to know if we could support 360 image annotation so that teachers could create their own expeditions and tours together with students. Shortly after, in May 2016, we launched our 360 image editor.

The second question concerned the ability to guide the tour to make sure students would pay attention to things that were relevant for the lesson. This one was tricky, because we did not think it was conceptually right to replicate the traditional classroom experience in VR.

In the traditional setup, a teacher stands in front of the classroom, and students are trying to get what the teacher says and means. It’s the same story, speed, and highlights for everyone, no matter if you are a fast or a slow learner, or if you speak the language or not.

Now, if you keep this setup and just put VR headsets on all the students, not much changes, except:

– You will need a lot of headsets, a budget to cover them, and a space to store them.

– Getting students to open the right app from the phone settings does not go smoothly. This eats time from instruction.

– Not all the devices will work properly. Not all the kids are patient.

– Some kids will stand up and bump into each other.

– It is harder for the students to hear the teacher wearing a headset.

Nevertheless, 360 viewing is a wonderful way to extend the boundaries of the classroom, but how to do that without complicating the logistics during instruction time? How can students get more quality time with their teacher in both the virtual and the physical learning space?

A narrated VR tour with sequential hotspots

The solution we came up with lets anyone record their introduction to a topic and save it in the background of a virtual tour. This also includes being able to define a sequence for informational hotspots that matches with the narration and guides viewers’ attention during a tour.

This new format came from the marriage of two existing ThingLink editor features: background audio and video editing. For lack of a better term, we will refer to it as a narrated VR tour with sequential hotspots.

Physical instruction time vs. virtual instruction time

Let’s say you have prepared a unit introduction of ancient Egypt, and the total physical instruction time for this one-time orientation in the classroom would be about 20 minutes.

Now, if you record the introduction and add it in the background of selected 360 images from Egypt, you as an educator have created yourself a presence in the cloud. From now on, views of this narrated VR experience by students will increase your virtual instruction time. Let’s continue the thought experiment and say all the students view your introduction at least once, and half of the students want to revisit the introduction from home as they are writing a related essay. In total, the virtual introduction is viewed 60 times each year (60 x 20min). This adds up to a total of 20 hours of virtual instruction time per year for this specific class and unit about ancient Egypt.

 

The introduction that was previously available for students only once in a certain physical space is now available and accessible to students any time. The teacher does not have to stress about giving the introduction on the spots while helping students to set up their headsets. Instead, this time can be saved for individual and group discussions.

Accessibility, flexibility, and cost savings

To sum up, a narrated VR tour with sequential hotspots is an asynchronous shared VR experience that benefits teachers, students, and schools in three essential ways:

1.It takes learning out of the classroom, but keeps the teachers guiding their students. Just like in any other environment, teachers help students to pay attention to the things that are relevant to their learning process. This can include introducing key concepts, giving general instructions for viewing, or inviting the classroom to think about certain questions as they explore the tour.

2.Narrated VR tours increase accessibility and flexibility in learning. A recorded VR introduction can be explored at any time, on any device, and from any location. This leaves more time for group and individual discussions.

3.Viewing VR tours in small groups or individually saves money: Not every student needs their own headset. Headsets can be kept clean and shared with multiple students. This makes immersive learning experiences possible for schools with smaller budgets.

5 steps for creating your own narrated VR tour with sequential hotspots

1. Upload a 360 image to ThingLink or select one from ThingLink image library

2. Record your introduction using a voice memo app on mobile or desktop

3. Open ThingLink editor and add the voice memo file (mp3, m4a) as a background audio to your image

4. Click “Play” to listen to your audio in the background and start adding informational hotspots

5. Adjust duration for tags, when you are done, click Save and share via LMS or link.

We look forward to seeing your work so please keep sharing projects, ideas or comments to ThingLink Education Facebook group or ThingLink Education on Twitter!

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THINGLINK RELEASES FREE 360 IMAGES TO UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES AND INVITES TEACHERS TO CREATE LESSONS IN MULTIPLE LANGUAGES

A GLOBAL TEACHER CHALLENGE

ThingLink Teacher Challenge 2019 focuses on developing digital storytelling skills in the context of cultural heritage and sustainable development. We invite teachers from different countries and regions to include virtual field trips in lesson plans, and to create new immersive learning experiences in multiple languages.  

A FREE 360 IMAGE LIBRARY

Appreciation of different cultures and the legacy of past generations often starts from a personal experience. This is why we have put together a collection of professional 360 images of some of the most prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Viewing these images on computers, mobile devices, or mobile VR headsets does not require a ThingLink account. In addition, all images are available for reuse and editing under the free ThingLink Teacher account.  They can be used individually for specific lessons, or combined into a virtual tour.

CULTURAL SITES

Ancient building complex in the Wudang Mountains, China

Nubian Pyramids, Meroë, Sudan

Abu Simbel, the small temple of Nefertari

Central Library (UNAM), Mexico

Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley, Armenia

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Luxor Temple, Egypt

Ad Deir Monastery, Petra, Jordania

Forum of Cesar, Rome, Italy

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Old Havana, Cuba

Acik Saray, Gulsehir, Turkey

Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, Lake Geneva, France

Monasterio del Escorial, Madrid, Spain

Vatican City

Alto Douro Wine Region, Portugal

Historic Town of Gran-Bassam, Cote D’Ivoire, Africa

Fujian Tulou buildings, China

Pre-Saharan habitat Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, Morocco

Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto

The Meidan Emam, Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah, Esfahan, Iran

Meteora Varlaam Monastery Steps, Greece

Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Isfahanm, Iran

 

NATURAL SITES

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan, China

Yosemite National Park, USA

Rock Sites of Cappadocia, Turkey

Nærøyfjord, Norway

Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, Madagascar

Black Lake in Durmitor National Park, Republic of Montenegro

Sagarmathan National Park, Nepal

Stirling Waterfalls at Te Wahipounamu, New Zealand

Laguna Llanganuco, Huascarán National Park, Peru

Lagoons of New Caledonia, France

Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Socotra Archipelago, Yemen

Canaima National Park, Venezuela, Sororo Pan Mountain

Yellowstone National Park, USA

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Central Amazon Conservation Complex, Brazil

Okawango Delta Botswana

 

HOW TO ADD THESE IMAGES TO YOUR OWN THINGLINK ACCOUNT

If you are new to ThingLink, here is how to get access to the images listed above:

  1. Register for a free ThingLink Teacher account at thinglink.com
  2. Go to the Explore tab.
  3. Choose any image in the featured images and click “add to my account”. Now this image is copied to your account.
  4. Create a lesson or a virtual audio tour by editing the image and adding text, photos, videos, or audio recording.
  5. Use the Tour Creator tag for creating transitions from one image to another
  6. Share your image to ThingLink Education group on Facebook or on Twitter and tag it with @unesco #worldheritage!

You are also warmly welcome to use these images in an existing educational program, course, workshop, or event. To discuss other partnership opportunities, please contact us at education@thinglink.com!

More information: A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. ThingLink won the 2018 UNESCO ICT in Education Prize.

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MOPIC VIRTUAL MUSEUM PROJECT BRINGS HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS TO LIFE

An interview with ThingLink Certified Educator Karsten Steiner, a passionate iPadagog and music teacher from Åland Islands and the author of “Motion pictures at an exhibition MoPic” on iBook.


“As a music teacher I’ve been inspired by Modest Mussorgsky’s famous piece “Pictures at an Exhibition” in which he describes his friend’s paintings in a musical way. This gave me the idea to contact my colleagues in different countries and create a virtual museum that gave old pictures a new life, with help of film, theatre, new art and digital technologies.”

What is the Mopic project?

MOPIC is a digital history museum for students, made by students. It was done as a two-year ERASMUS project in collaboration between four countries: Lithuania, Catalonia (Spain), England and the Åland Island (Finland). During the two years, each country organized a one-week long creative workshop, the results of which were documented for the virtual museum. The students from the participating countries were between the age of thirteen and sixteen, 8th and 9th grade. Altogether, the project involved directly and indirectly over 1,000 people.

Together with my colleagues, we organized the project into six phases:

1: TEST RUN WITH TEACHERS (CRITICAL)

In the beginning of the project eight teachers came together for a week to think about the learning goals and desired end results for the project.

2: FINDING HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS

Next step for each student group was to discover three interesting local historical projects and the stories behind them. For each project, students had to find images, photographs or archeological materials. These pictures were the start for three virtual  project rooms in each countrys’ exhibition space. To keep all materials in one place the groups used Padlet.

3: ART WORKSHOP IN ÅLAND

The historical pictures inspired the first workshop in Åland, during which  students they learned

different ways and techniques to create new art based on the local stories.

4: MUSIC WORKSHOP IN CATALONIA

This workshop gave students an opportunity to interpret the collected materials with music using creative instruments like water bottles, Makey Makey kits and GarageBand.

5: THEATRE WORKSHOP IN LITHUANIA

Here, students chose a photograph that they wanted to bring to life by acting in front of a green screen. Students learned to design and sew their own costumes and apply theatre makeup to finalize their historical character.

After this workshop all countries had the needed materials for their own virtual museum room. The tools for organizing the different tasks and sharing the materials included Trello, Dropbox, and Google drive. The students communicated with each other using Facebook groups and Flipgrid videos. The virtual museum was created with ThingLink.

6: VIRTUAL TOUR CREATION WORKSHOP IN ENGLAND

Finally, each of the country teams collected their materials from the previous workshops and combined them into a 360 degree virtual experience using ThingLink. The local stories came together in the MOPIC exhibition that gave the audience an option to use VR headsets and walk through the museum experience in each country.

What kind of learning goals did you set for the project?

As much as the end result, we were interested in the journey leading to it, and getting answer to questions like:

  • What did the students want to learn about their own local history?
  • What can historical photos tell us about our present?
  • How can we use our knowledge about history to build something new?

These questions opened up great opportunities for students to learn about:

  • Research methods for making art inspired by different materials and role models
  • Creative expression in making music, acting, masking, and costume design
  • Use of digital tools for filming, interviewing, audio recording and green screen
  • Visit other countries and learn about their culture
  • Communicate in English, socialize and have fun together

What is the value of the 360 degree presentation of project results?

The additional value of 360 viewing is the experience of being inside the virtual museum world and to be able to focus and walk around without distractions. For students, it also gives a new kind of opportunity to be an active part of the production and the whole educational process. Both students and teachers got an opportunity to extend their creativity, social and digital skills.

What comes next?

I am very grateful for being able to bring so many different professionals together with the students and everyone was open to  learn from each other! The students feel very proud about the outcome of the project and many of them got unforgettable experiences and friends for life.

Going forward, I hope that Mopic can be an example for learning and collaborating in multi-cultural environments, and that in the future I will have the possibility to work with more schools from different countries. In fact, I would like to invite any school, no matter what grade or level to try this out! I’m welcoming every new idea with open arms, please feel free to contact me at karstensteiner@me.com!

 

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Immersive Publishing for Cultural Preservation: Visiting the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro in Memories

Some weeks ago we got a note from Leonardo Coelho, a journalist and a student at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. After the devastating fire that destroyed the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, Leonardo had started working on a project that developed new ways for people to remember and share memories of the museum they loved. To us, Leonardo’s initiative struck as a truly wonderful example of how 360 media and immersive publishing can support cultural preservation, and we wanted to take a moment to share his story with you.

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How do You Thinglink?

by Patricia Merlino, ThingLink Certified Educator and Trainer

Six years ago I first discovered ThingLink. There was only one way to ThingLink with interactive images.ThingLink has come a long way. Now, there are multiple ways toThingLink. Interactive images expanded with many new features, Google integration, and an extensive library of icons. Thinglink 360 combines virtual reality images with interactivity making an immersive experience even more engaging.  ThingLink video combines with interactions as viewers watch transforming passive to active learning. The question of “How do you Thinglink?” is certainly one to ponder. There are options.

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Immersive Stories for VR for the ThingLink Teacher Challenge

View channel & watch it grow!

We are pleased to begin curating our collection of immersive stories for viewing in a VR headset and happy to share this growing collection with our community.

We are happy to have received a whole batch of wonderful immersive stories at the end of this week! The goal of this challenge is to create an image that can be viewed easily in a VR headset, and to create a useful collection, we are sorting through them to make sure the tags work in the headset.

We created a handy chart to help participants understand the types of tags that work in a VR headset. View it here, or on the ThingLink Teacher Challenge page.

 

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Don’t Sweat It! Diving Into Thinglink 360

by Andrew Fehnel

I have been lucky to be a part of the Thinglink Certified Educators community for a few years now and every year I see the creativity of this group ratchet up. It can be intimidating to see what others have created and then think: how can I possibly do something like that? What I’ve found is that Thinglink 360’s ability to create engaging and immersive presentations does not take years of practice or a degree in nuclear science. In fact, the ability to create material using the editing tool is accessible to all ability levels.

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Get Ready for the 5th Annual ThingLink Teacher Challenge Webinar

ThingLink Teacher Challenge 4 Steps

We invite educators from across the globe to join us in our powerful, self-paced, online professional development designed to explore, create, and share immersive 360 stories on the go! Sign up for our kickoff webinar to learn more about how you and your team can participate in the learning. Our PD is designed to put some extra fun into your summer adventures as you engage in learning through constructive play, document your experiences, and tell your own immersive stories with ThingLink. It’s time to get ready for the 5th annual ThingLink Teacher Challenge Webinar.

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Join Us in Immersive Storytelling Across the Globe

Tell Your Story on the Go!

We invite educators from across the globe to join us in the 5th Annual ThingLink Teacher Challenge. This free, online, self-paced,  professional development will help educators learn to explore, modify and create immersive 360 stories on the go! It promises to be a tremendous learning experience, packed with the power of our and expertise from our talented community of ThingLink Certified Educators. We hope you will join us for the best PD of the summer!

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