Category : Instructions

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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How to Find & Cite 360 Images with Kathy Schrock

Join us for a close-up look into finding and using 360 images with expert and ThingLink Certified Educator, Kathy Schrock. We’ll learn where to find 360 images for reuse and how to license them and use them to create your own ThingLinks.

Live @7pm EDT or sign up to watch OnDemand

RESERVE YOUR SPOT!

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How To Use Preloaded Icons in ThingLink 360/VR

At ThingLink we spend a lot of time working with educators and we collect valuable feedback about our tools along the way. One of the biggest requests about our 360/VR editor has been to add preloaded icons, similar to the feature that is available in our regular, “flat” image editor. We are pleased to introduce this new feature!

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Using Thinglink to Create Interactive Learning Menus that Support Student Choice

by Christi Collins

Thinglink Interactive Learning Menus

Are you looking for more engaging ways to provide your students with choice-based assignments and activities? One way to provide students with more meaningful, self-directed learning opportunities is to create an Interactive Learning Menu in Thinglink.  Interactive Learning Menus, also known as Choice Boards, provide students with a variety of options to choose from based on their individual interests.   

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Use Google Street View to create interactive 360° experiences on ThingLink

Have you been searching for an easy way to acquire 360° images, but don’t have a 360° camera?  In this blog post you will learn the simple steps needed to download a 360° image from Google Street View (GSV) using Pano Fetch and upload it to ThingLink.  This process only takes one minute and will provide you with a vast library of high quality 360° images covering many topics. 

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Quick Tip: Help Students Inherit Pro or Premium Features

If you are an educator with a ThingLink Pro or Premium plan, you can onboard students by inviting them to your group with an Invite Code. For quick reference, here is the video we sent to all new Pro and Premium users to teach you how to get started with our new features. Didn’t get the email? Please make sure to enable email notifications to receive news and important announcements.

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New feature alert: Filter your search!

Did you know that there are over 6,500,000 images, videos, and 360s on ThingLink? Not only is ThingLink the place to create interactive masterpieces, it’s also the place to find inspiration from others. Now, not only can you search our database of images, videos, and 360s, you can also filter your results to find exactly what you’re looking for! Use this feature when searching for that perfect content to remix.


How to filter

#1 Enter a search term

ThingLink users have made projects on everything from art history to zoology. Enter a search term in the box at the top of ThingLink.

#2 Choose media type

Now, with the new search filter, select the type of media you’re looking for. Use the check boxes for images, videos, 360 images, and 360 videos to determine your results.



Reasons to filter

#1 Remixing

When tagging 360 images, often the hardest step is the photography, or finding images to tag. Before creating your own images, use the search to see what other ThingLink users have already created. If a user marks their image as public, you will be able to use the remix function to copy their image into your account. Delete the previous person’s tags and get started on your own creation!

#2 Get the right inspiration

While the most popular ThingLink format is standard images, there are also thousands of videos and 360s already tagged. If you’re new to tagging videos and want some guidance, searching without a filter may leave the video results lost in the crowd. Filter to get exactly what you’re looking for the first time without too much sifting.


Now that you’re acquainted with the new search features, get searching and start tagging! If you want to learn more about our advanced features for join us for an upcoming webinar.

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How to Build a ThingLink 360 Breakout!

We are excited about our community’s interest in creating ThingLink 360 Breakout activities! This post is designed to help participants create their own interactive activity.

Each of the images you see below is a ThingLink with more information about the topic. Please continue to tweet questions to Dan Gallagher @gallagher_tech or send an email to support@thinglink.com. We will update the images below based on FAQs!

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Get Started with the ThingLink Summer VR Challenge

Welcome to the ThingLink Summer VR Challenge! The first lesson is designed to help all participants learn to explore and create while you engage in constructive play. You will also begin to connect with others by Designing Your Digital Self with ThingLink. Those interactive images will be added to the 360 map you see at the top of the page. Let’s begin!

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Replace Background Image to Easily Update Resources

ThingLink is a powerful tool for creating resources that can be reused and easily adapted to meet the changing needs of educators and their students. When users create an interactive image or video, it can be easily updated with new resources by adding new tags. Tags with outdated resources can be deleted or modified on the spot. Did you know you can transform a ThingLink by replacing the background image while keeping the tags in tact? 
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