There is a lot of buzz around using AR/VR technology in education, often as a technology that is soon to emerge as a powerful tool. The fact is, the tools are currently in place to get students started building with AR/ VR technology NOW, and many of the best platforms just happen to be free.
So if you are thinking of diving in but have been afraid to take the leap, here is a “Get Started NOW” guide to have students building and sharing their own experiences.
Here are the tools that you will need to complete this experience:
- The Google Street View App on a mobile phone or device
- Tour Creator – Sign in with a Google Account on your laptop or computer
Part 1: Google Street View App: Have students create a 360 image of the location or locations that are part of their experience.
(If you have a 360 image camera, it will work great. Often though the cost is rather expensive and sharing the device between students takes time. The Street View app is a free download.)
- Once they open the app, students will tap on the Camera Icon to begin creating their 360 image.
- The app will prompt you to link an external camera, upload a 360 image or use the camera. Select the camera option.
- A white circle and a series of yellow dots will appear in your view. Simply align the white circle and a yellow dot and the app will automatically capture that frame. Circle the entire room repeating the process until they all the yellow dots disappear and the entire sphere image is complete. Tap the yellow check mark to finish and save the image.
4. Once Students have taken their picture, they should be sure not to publish the image publicly. An option exists to share the images privately. Once selected you can choose where to save it so that it can be accessed on your computer. Using Google Drive, Airdrop or Dropbox are all effective options. The image can be saved to the cloud using google drive, or etc.
Part 2: Tour Creator Have Students Create an Immersive Experience
- Go to the Tour Creator website, and log in using a desktop device.
- Once logged in, click New Tour.
- Once your tour is opened, give it a title, add a description, and upload a cover image. When having students create, it is a good idea to tell them to take a regular photo in addition to their 360 image for this purpose. You will also notice a Google Expeditions message. This will be helpful later. When you have added a title, description, and cover photo, click create on the bottom left of your screen. (You can also add a category to your tour if you wish.)
- The “Add Scene” window will open. Click “UPLOAD.” You can drag and drop the image into the field or click “SELECT A 360 OR 180 IMAGE” to select it from your device. Either way you will need to download your 360 image to your device if you used Drive, Dropbox or another web based service to access the photo. When finished, click “ADD SCENE” on the lower right.
- The newly created scene will appear. Give the scene a title, add a location, and enter credit for the photo. This is especially important if you are using free images found online and is an invaluable opportunity to talk about a key digital citizenship skill. Don’t skip it and miss the chance – even if in this case they are giving credit to themselves!
- While the images make for a great to experience, what really makes a tour powerful is the audio. Tour Creator allows you to add TWO different audio tracks. The first is an ambient audio track. Have students record the sounds that are natural to the place they are documenting. This ambient track should not be overlooked. It adds great depth to the experience.
- The second audio track is for narration. Have the students add a spoken track. They may be describing the place or perhaps adding dialogue.
Most mobile devices have the ability to record audio, but it’s important to be aware that some do so using mp4 files. Tour Creator requires mp3 files. If this becomes an issue, a quick and easy fix is to use 123apps.com. It has a free audio recording tool that is simple to use and works on mobile devices and laptops.
- Now you are ready to add points of interest to your tour. Students can add points of interest to help guide people and focus their attention as they proceed through the tour.
These points of interest can also include images and audio. When clicked, the images pop out and the audio plays. The pictures can be sized and positioned as you like.
- Repeat the process to add as many SCENES as you’d like. When you are finished, click the blue PUBLISH button at the top of the page. It will give you the choice of publishing the tour as UNLISTED or PUBLIC. Unlisted is likely the best choice. Students can share access to their tour through a link but they will not be searchable through the site. Then click publish to complete the process.
- Finally your tour is ready to share. You will be given a link to the tour that can be shared, or there is the option to view the tour that you just created. All of your tours can be accessed again at the login page.
Remember that Google Expeditions note that we discussed earlier? Any tours that you create can be also accessed through Google Expeditions allowing you to guide for a group.
Once you get comfortable you can explore the Tour templates that are available. These offer ready made visuals that students can annotate and use to demonstrate their knowledge. Included are topics like The Respiratory System, Exothermic Reactions, the Solar System, and various famous places around the globe.
That’s it. You have entered the world of virtual reality – not just as a guest – but as a creator and a host. Now you can give students a new and powerful way to express learning.