08/21/2013 | By WOODY HOWARD
Generally speaking there are four types of virtual field trips available on the web: “Glass brochures,” video tours, video conferencing and 360° photography.
“Glass brochures” are basically just that — a few pictures accompanied by information. No interaction other than clicking to move to a different link.
Video tours — Short videos of destination sites, you see what the camera sees with no interaction.
Video/web conferencing — The location provides study literature prior to the actual video conference. During one to two hour video conference students get the chance to interact with on-location personnel. Students are limited to what they can see, but the information and interaction are key learning tools here. Requires video conferencing technology.
360° photography — think of these as a giant beach ball, with the viewer standing in the middle. The viewer can look up, down, all around and in some cases zoom in/out; all by using their mouse. A lot of the older of these type tours will not “work” on tablets. Most of these are limited to a single 360° image.
As a parent I realized that some children would never see the mountains, or the coast or their state capital. As a photographer I realized that I could help. EducateVia360, Inc. was founded believing that I could use my experience of creating high resolution 360° photography to create virtual field trips for students. We set out to create a library of virtual field trips, available anytime, all using the same interface and all in one location. These virtual field trips are viewable on almost every device — tablets, computers and interactive white boards. Students can view the field trips individually on their own device, in a pod/group setting in a computer lab or in a class/lecture setting using the interactive white board.
Each of our virtual field trips will walk the viewer from the front door all the way through the facility by using multiple 360° scenes. The viewer selects which scene to visit and controls the view using their mouse, keypad or finger (iDevices/tablets). Each virtual field trip contains interesting facts and imagery. Most facts have “on-demand” narration available. Also included are videos, illustrations, slideshows and web links throughout. Our hope is to engage the viewer and to add a sense of “discovery” in each field trip.
Virtual field trips have evolved into a useful, powerful tool. Educationally speaking, virtual field trips can bring more of the world within reach of more students. Financially speaking, it could not have come at a better time for most schools.