Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Virtual Tours

Interactive websites with virtual tours bring into the classroom places students cannot easily visit. Online tours provide exciting ways to achieve interdisciplinary teaching and crossing grade-level boundaries. For instance, a tour of the White House can work for a kindergarten class or a high school physics class. It all depends on how the teacher decides to integrate the site. What's more, with immersive panoramic photography, students can view buildings from above, below, and the side, as well as sweep down into rooms and feel a "live" view of the site. Students gain a sense of behind the camera lens, changing focal lengths and angles. Virtual tours reinvent field trips, bringing the site to the classroom, instead of the reverse. The value of virtual tours in the school setting, however, depends on the creative, ingenuity, and lesson planning of the teacher. Take a tour of the White House, or try out the site United States Panoramas, or look at one of our National Parks online, and figure out how you can use the site in your teaching. Post your comments.

White House Tours:
For more White House Information:
United States Panoramas:
Mountain Visions:
The New 7 Wonders:

Check the National Parks by doing an online search of any one of them, and linking directly to the Park.

Let us know your thoughts about virtual tours, their place in your curriculum, and how you would use a specific site in your teaching.


Lisa said...

I think the idea of virtual tours in the classroom is wonderful, especially for places that are not easily accessible. For instance, a tour of the White House may sound like a fantasic idea, but could your school/students afford a trip like that? What if your school was in California? Things like that make it difficult for teachers to plan field trips to places, such as the White House. However, with access to a virtual tour of the White House would give students and teachers access to a place right in the classroom where there is no expenses or travel involved. The expereince of seeing the White House shouldn't be a wish on a kid's wishlist; it should be a reality. With virtual tours it can become a reality, too. With all that said, teachers have to be careful when planning these virtual tours because they want to make sure kids aren't "visiting" these places just for fun. As with any field trip, teachers have to make sure that it is connected to their curriculum and that the "trip" has a purpose...otherwise it is a waste of time for everyone. I haven't thought of using virtual tours in the classroom before, but I will definitely think about it now.

Kathy V. said...

Students in my History class came across a virtual tour of an Egyptian pyramid while the class was searching for information about ancient Egyptian topics. Students gathered around the computer in the computer lab plus many others decided to go on the same site the virtual tour was displayed on. The pyramids were shown with closer views than you could probably have if you were actually there and so many intricate details could be seen. Also, being able to see the surrounding geographical features gave you a better feel for the geographical location rather than just seeing a huge monument. The extraordinary views photographed in virtual tours are amazing! You truly feel like you are at the site being viewed. When field trips are impossible to far away places the virtual tours are the next best thing, and sometimes even better with the varying angles that have been photographed that one may not encounter if they were at the actual site. Virtual tours could definitely be part of the ancient civilization curriculum because so many locations are being introduced and discussed. Sometimes the virtual tour could introduce a topic or at other times it could be used within the unit to show an important historic location. I would definitely use the New Seven Wonders and any other virtual tours that relate to the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome. The virtual tours will add insight to the units being taught plus give visual learners even more to grasp than the written word or still photographs. Connections to concepts are made for many students in a visual way especially if the visuals being used, as in the virtual tours, are made with such exquisite workmanship.

Carla said...

I absolutely agree with the two previous comments that virtual tours can successfully be used in the classroom to enhance curriculum. I think that bringing ancient history into the classroom through a virtual tour is a great way to motivate students while still making the experience educational. It is important to make sure that the use of virtual tours is fitting and enhances the curriculum. There is nothing worse than using such a great tool for students to kill time and with no curricular backbone. I do think that using virtual tours in the classroom has to be done with some caution. Even though these virtual tours can give students a great experience, they should never be confused with having the real experience. If it is feasible to take a field trip instead of a virtual tour I think that must be given a higher priority. A crucial part of maturing and developing a global education is having a variety of experiences and field trips are an integral part of that. I think it would be very disappointing for students to graduate without the actual experiences because they had been replaced by virtual tours.

gretchen said...

I love these-- there are many museums you can tour as well.

Crystal Perham said...

I believe that every teacher should expose their students to virtual tours. Personally, I learned about virtual tours this year. I took my students on virtual tours to "the White House. and the rainforest." I found my students to be more engaged in their learning. My students could not stop asking questions about the content of the virtual tours. Not every student has the opportunites to travel and experience places like the White House. Virtual tours are not expensive, and do not take long. Why shouldn't every student be able to experience these places? A sudent's background and living environment should not effect their opportunites to learn.

NOBIAH said...

Dear Judy

am a children’s author and video maker currently producing a new series for children titled MEET ME AT THE CORNER.

This series of virtual field trips is being distributed over the Internet as video pod casts on our web site

Each video is linked to fun websites and a Learning Corner of questions and extended activities. New episodes are uploaded every two weeks.

This week you can take virtual field trip to San Diego.
Our young host Robert interviews tours the USS MIDWAY and learns what life was like aboard a city at sea.
Would you consider  reviewing MEET ME AT THE CORNER, Virtual Field Trips for Kids for your readers? 

I look forward to hearing from you.

Donna W. Guthrie 

Meghan said...

This is a really neat idea! Especially with the raise of gas prices recently, these virtual field trips can be a real life saver! I love the idea of touring the White House without even having to go to Washington, but I hope that these virtual field trips do not completley eliminate real field trips in the future. Field trips are when students take the learning into their own hands!

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