Creating your own 360° Virtual Tours using H5P

With a brand new release of H5P on Thursday there was some great new education tools to explore. Included were the three new content types that were originally announced at the H5P conference back in December 2018 – Branching Scenario, Virtual tour (360) and Dictation. The creation of virtual tours can be a fantastic way to allow students to explore a site they would not be able to visit for practicality, cost or safety reasons. Virtual tours can be used for a range of applications in education such as visiting a historical site, identifying safety hazards in out of bounds areas, or helping students find their way in new buildings. That virtually anyone with a modern smartphone and access to a web browser can create a 360 virtual tour gives great opportunity to be able to use use this education technology more widely to solve education challenges.

I decided to explore the capabilities of Virtual tour (360) tool by creating a simple tour of Fort Scratchley in Newcastle that I recently visited. You can check it out below:

Creating virtual tours is easy – give it a go!

Overall it was easy to use the tool to create virtual tours using a point and click interface. Each area that you explore is called a scene and it is a simple matter of uploading an image that you have taken with a 360 camera or a 360 panorama image that you can take on your smartphone. You can add and link multiple scenes together by putting a marker for where the student will need to click to explore that scene. Since you can position this marker anywhere you want on the scene it makes for an intuitive experience for students to decide which area they want to explore next. Apart from 360 images you can also add 2D photos for students to explore although it may not be as interactive since you cannot move your viewpoint around.

Similar to editing many other H5P activities, you have a main tool bar at the top that you can select elements to add to your tour such as text labels, static images, videos and audio clips. Each of these elements are simple but work well since you can place them anywhere you want on your scene canvas so it is clear what you are labelling. Multimedia content such as images or a YouTube video are handled well since when clicked they will appear within the tour rather than loading up on a new web page thus making the experience more immersive. Speaking of immersive, you can have a background audio to ‘set the scene’ as well short individual audio clips that you can insert at a particular location to explain a concept. In order to assess students’ knowledge in the tour you can also add statements that students have to select are correct and quiz students using single choice questions. Fortunately since H5P is made with HTML5 technology it works well on all devices mobile devices as well as laptops or desktops. My main piece of advice though on any device is it is best viewed full screen. Lastly you can add copyright information to any additional files used to help you in making all your creations comply with copyright law.

Where it could be improved…

Long term the addition of more complex question types that allow students to explain their understanding of what they have learnt in their own words would be a great addition. One example where I think this could be particularly interesting is to get students to justify why a certain practice is unsafe in a lab so students could complete it in their own time and be signed off on a safety induction before going into a lab.

Another feature that would be desirable is to have custom icons for markers so you could to categorise certain markers together. For instance it would be great to make a custom safety hazard icon so that it is clear to students in an online lab induction what are the safety hazards in the room compared to all the other text labels you may also have such as the printer, hand washing facilities, notice board, etc.

The tool can be a bit buggy on Firefox when it comes to adding still scenes in the editor so for the moment I would recommend if you are having troubles to try again in Chrome.

What are your thoughts on this Virtual tour (360) tool? Do you see it as being useful in your teaching or is there another approach you would take? Write your comments below.

Original release note on the H5P website:

https://h5p.org/february-2019-release-note

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