Featured picture of post "How to Empower Students to Create Their Own Interactive 360 Content"

How to Empower Students to Create Their Own Interactive 360 Content

Kyla Ball

In addition to using interactive media and virtual reality to create your teaching materials, why not also give your students the tools and technology to become authors of their own immersive content? In this case study, read how educator Manel Rives empowered students from 25 education centers in Spain to create their own interactive materials – with an all-inclusive ready-made suitcase of IT tools!

Manel Rives is an educator based in the Spanish city of Vigo in Spain’s Galicia region. As well as being a Primary School Teacher, he is an Apple Distinguished Educator, an Apple Professional Learning specialist,  and a LinkedIn Learning Author. Over the academic year 2022-23, Manel has managed a project across 25 different primary and secondary schools and universities: I Deserve a Street in VR. Within the schools, groups of students worked together to present the cases for a number of streets in their own city or town to be re-named after a woman of their choice. This could be someone who for one reason or another had been overlooked in the past and whose story had been forgotten. 

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The inspiration for the virtual guides

The idea behind “I deserve a street!” came from fellow educator Rosa Liarte, who had previously developed such a project with her own students and other schools. In this original version, students researched women who they believed deserved to be recognized and memorialized with a street being re-named after them in their home town, and then wrote to the town authorities with their research collated into a final presentation. 

However, Manel saw the potential for the material to be created and presented in a digital and interactive format, potentially using the format of 360 images with embedded multimedia content created by pupils, to create more of a virtual reality experience. The students could carry out independent research, and work together to create a persuasive argument to present to the city authorities. Why not also include images or videos of the street in question too, perhaps with the students even presenting the content in situ, in the street itself?

In fact Manel had previously developed such an interactive project for his students to create together: CreaRVigo. From 2015 onwards, groups of 8-9 year old students have been presenting different sites and points of interest in Vigo by creating virtual site visits in ThingLink. They add images, videos and voiceovers to introduce and explain the context and sites – acting as virtual tour guides to their own familiar city.

Explore on of the ThingLinks below!

What do you need to create virtual tours and presentations like these?

For the project to work well, Manel knew he had to provide students with the perfect combination of robust hardware and easy to use content creation platforms. It was important that they were able to author the work independently IT specialists GoldenMac EDU Grupo K-Tuin provided all-in-one suitcases, each containing an iPad, as well as a Ricoh Theta 360 camera so that the students could easily capture 360 images and video of the streets they had chosen. They also contained a 4G router to connect camera and iPad in case any school didn’t have such capability themselves.  

Each iPad was ready-loaded with content creation apps including Garageband for audio, iMovie for video, Photos to store the content and photo retouching, and ThingLink for the final assembly. ThingLink also provided Manel with an organizational account to include all the seats he required across the 25 centres.

Manel created his own set of video tutorials which he uploaded to each of the iPads, showing the students how they could create the final 360 content. 

“(I needed) tremendously powerful devices, as well as software platforms that are extremely simple to use. For the final content, ThingLink was the answer that did it all!”. 

Manel Rives

Results of the project

In providing all the physical and online tools, as well as thorough guidance in how to use them, the students were able to create wonderfully engaging and immersive content. It places their research directly into context for viewers –  in what Manel describes perfectly as “an immersive canvas”. 

Manel has been invited to talk about the success of the project at the 2023 Apple Professional Learning Summit

Benefits of the project for the students

Manel is a firm proponent of “learning by doing” and considers both the virtual city guides and the “I Deserve a Street!” project as an ideal channel to combine and develop a multitude of skills that are essential for young people in the 21st century. These include: 

  • Research skills
  • Creative and presentation skills
    • Learning how to use verbal and non verbal language such as body language, in combination with the written word and images to develop a convincing argument. 
    • Using reasoning and argument to present your case in a compelling and convincing way.
    • Considering how you can present the content in different languages and modes to make it accessible for all.
  • Technology skills – recording, editing, uploading and combining content in a range of multimedia formats.
  • Teamwork, social and collaboration skills to create the virtual experience as a joint enterprise – some of the soft skills they will need in the future in a modern society.
  • Teaching skills: students can use their final content to teach each other; they can be reviewers of each other’s work and give constructive feedback.

“Students also have the opportunity to obtain better results by using these techniques to develop processes. This is because multimedia materials help students understand the content more deeply, offering a variety of useful resources for their learning. This includes videos, interactive graphics, multimedia presentations, photographs, animations, music and audio.”

Manel Rives

Alternative possibilities to widen access to this sort of content creation

The packaging and delivery of all the tools required in a ready-made pack is the ideal way to provide schools and students with all they need to create their own similar interactive content! However here are some other alternatives if this is not a possibility for your school:

  • If students have limited access to 360 devices, they can take a panoramic photo on any mobile device, then upload and convert for free with the new ThingLink Pano to 360 app. It’s completely free and no ThingLink account is required!
  • They could also use the free ThingLink 360 image library to create an online tour of famous sites around the world. Choose from high-quality scenes from national parks, heritage sites, capital cities and more! 
  • Make use of the free tutorials available on the ThingLink YouTube channel, as well as ThingLink support pages, to demonstrate to students how to create their first ThingLink.
  • Make sure you join the Facebook Education Group to meet and be inspired by fellow educators!

Next steps for the project 

Manel hopes to continue the project as more students from more education centers create more interactive guides and content.

Further reading

You may also be interested in:

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