Create Immersive Virtual Tours & Expeditions with ThingLink

Are you looking to create your own Virtual Tours and three-dimensional Expeditions? Do you need to view fully immersive tours in Virtual Reality mode? ThingLink is the perfect solution for the task. This article gives you an overview of ThingLink’s virtual tour creator as well as helpful tips and tricks to create your own 3d virtual immersive experiences.

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Written by Louise Jones, Director of Education Community & Partnerships
10 min read

Over the last 10 years ThingLink has grown to be one of the world’s most popular rich media tech tools for creating augmented visual learning materials and experiences. Over 8 million people have registered a creator account, and over 350 million people are learning with ThingLink every year. In 2016, ThingLink was the first company to make virtual tour creation accessible and affordable for teachers and students.

The popularity of the platform’s success is down to ever-improving functionality and simplicity. As digital media usage becomes more sophisticated, ThingLink has responded with rich media tags, in-tag controls, enhanced VR technology player controls, accessibility features and improvements to tour transitions.

This unprecedented year has seen soaring demand in education for both virtual environment visits and online learning, from K12, through higher education and beyond to professional development. Educators are using ThingLink to create some outstanding examples which show how interactive virtual experiences and tours can help meet and go beyond the challenges that 2020 has brought.

At every level, context visualization is key when creating content that keeps your learners engaged. Using ThingLink with 360 degree images to create Virtual Tours and Expeditions immediately creates an immersive experience which enhances and reinforces the learning journey. This is all the more important when students are today joining the classroom from diverse separate locations. Adding in their ‘social presence’ to tours, educators have been able to remain connected to their learners.

Lessons from Lockdown: In-context learning with the University of Central Lancashire

When Covid-19 cancelled a medical school’s in-person workshop, ThingLink provided the solution for a realistic scenario to immerse students in the experience. Students then pieced together individual data within the simulation to diagnose and create a patient management plan.

Professional learning and growth - Read more about the success of Dr Jones’s approach which enabled her students not only to relate to the realistic content but also develop their observational skills within standalone virtual environments.

The built-in security, sharing and simple functionality of ThingLink means that it can also become a collaborative tool for your learners. Students can create their own ThingLink content as a way to present research and information. The clone function easily allows them to edit your example with their own content.

See below and hear directly from the Student Leader how Stirling High School’s pupil-led team introduced students to the school’s new one way system, part of their response to Covid-19.

Icing on the cake! What extra functionality does ThingLink bring?

You can

  • Collaborate on ThingLink creations with shared folders
  • Increase accessibility - text in tags can be opened in Microsoft’s Immersive Reader
  • Explore and use 360 images from our ready-made library of images and tags
  • Embed a huge variety of content types in tags - including videos, GIFS and carousels of images, as well as external apps such as Google Maps, Forms, Flipgrid, and YouTube
  • Add virtual objects to your fully immersive experience with tools such as Sketchfab
  • Share to your Google for Education Google Classrooms or Microsoft Teams seamlessly
  • Add your own custom icons for branded or personalised tours
  • Add your voice/ other audio directly to other content in the tags in the browser - no need to record on another app
  • Check comprehension or add an additional level of security with conditional transitions between scenes - users can only progress through the tour with the correct answer or password
  • Select your tours to be Private or Unlisted tours - keep sensitive content private or share it with your group, class or organization or make it public and searchable
  • Use your 360-degree tours with Virtual Reality VR Headsets such as Google Cardboard, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Gear VR.
  • Replace your 360 backgrounds! If your image needs to change you can switch them out and tags are retained
  • Share to your Google Classrooms for VR viewing with Google Cardboard with our designated feature.

Using virtual reality can be easy! How to go Further with ThingLink!

Mixed reality to mix up your media. One of the challenges with Virtual Tours and Trips is the viewer’s understanding of the layout. The solution is to use a combination of images and 360 media to take the viewer through a journey in the virtual world, from start to finish. For example start with a video or map with a legend as your introduction to the tour - helping users to visualize their location and journey. ThingLink creations can be made from flat images and video, 360 images and even 360 video. With the Tour Tag you can link any combination of ThingLinks, no matter what base media they are.

Scene Selection and Search. All virtual trips in ThingLink also enable the viewer to hop from scene to scene as they wish, as well as following the linear tour. Clicking on the square icons bottom right of screen brings up the scene selection from where users can move about the scenes freely. Example here from Midlothian Council in Scotland.

How to Create a ThingLink

Head over to thinglink.com/edu and create your free teacher account. ThingLink creations start with the blue create button. Click CREATE and then select what kind of content you'd like to upload.

Capturing 360 images for ThingLink

If you don’t already have 360 degree images you want to use, remember you can take your own using the Google Street View camera app! You can find a guide on capturing 360 images with smartphones here. If you have a 360 camera, that's even better! Check out this article on how you might need to convert your photos before you can upload them to ThingLink.

For a fully immersive sensory experience - ThingLink and Virtual Reality Devices / Virtual reality technology and Virtual reality headsets (VR)

As well as viewing ThingLinks across devices such as Chromebooks, PCs, mobile devices and iPads, ThingLink 360 degree images and videos can be viewed in Virtual Reality (VR) mode for a different type of sensory experience. This article provides an overview of virtual technology controls, limitations and certain specifics of creating and viewing ThingLink with a VR Headset such as Oculus, HTC Vive and Google Cardboard (with Mobile devices with an accelerometer)

Further questions?

As well as contacting us if you have any questions, please join our communities and connect with ThingLink Educators. We are incredibly proud of our groups, how they embrace ideas and share their demos, they will only be too pleased to welcome you.

Facebook: ThingLink Education, Finland, Italia, Espana, Israel, India

Twitter: ThingLink, ThingLink Education

View our Past Webinars on our YouTube Channel

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at education@thinglink.com

ThingLink is GDPR COPPA & FERPA compliant details here

Topics: Featured, How To, education, virtual tour, 360, 21st century learning, online learning, remote learning, workplace learning, Tour Creator, training, teacher training, contextual learning, PD, physical world, simulator, immersed Virtual and augmented reality visualizations

Create a virtual tour with ThingLink! It’s easier than you think!

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