I've been a fan of using virtual reality apps and platforms for some time now - my recent article for UKED Magazine (and subsequent iTunes U course) featured the use of the 360 Cities to virtually whisk students away to locations far and exotic. I also highlighted the use of these types of apps in my parallel features The Twin Tours (which you can read here)
So when Nearpod approached me about putting some content together with a virtual field trip slant, I jumped at the cahnce. I was also intrigued as to how they planned to pull this off!I
I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had incorporated the ability to harness 360Cities directly within the Nearpod presentation! You gotta love it when an app developer doesn't sit on their laurels but constantly seeks new ways to evolve their product - this is what places apps like Nearpod, Book Creator and Explain Everything so far ahead of other apps.
I was given free reign to create content themed around any location I chose as a part fo a 10-15 minute mini-lesson. So, I figured - why not go somewhere that's close to home? Somewhere I drive past every morning on the way to school and yet somewhere truly unique that students around the world would love to visit...
LESSON 1: THE BURJ KHALIFA
The tallest building in the world and the one that Tom Cruise loves to dangle from. The Burj Khalifa was a perfect subject for my virtual trip. I did consider several other locations here in Dubai but the fact that 360 Cities included panoramas from both the base and the top of this spectacular tower made it an unbeatable choice for me.
Now I just had to figure out what sort of lesson to build around it. At first I was heading ina mathematical direction - looking at stats and records that the tower boasts. In the end though I went down a totally different path and created a lesson using the virtual tour panoramas as stimuli for writing. Students experience the building from both places and use the sights and feelings that they are exposed to, to help them generate some desciptive writing.
Nearpod liked the concept and delivery... so much that they asked if I'd be up for producing another one! This left me with a dilemma - How could I top the world's tallest building...
LESSON 2: A TRIP TO MARS
This is where having prior knowledge of 360 Cities paid off to be honest because I knew that they had panoramas from the Mars Rover on there (a Year 2 student and I explored them briefly last year in the app.) So off to Mars we go for lesson 2! The content developed organically this time as the rover's mission was primarily to determine the potential for life on the red planet - so I used this as the learning focus. Students have to learn more about the rover and answer some quiz questions about it before taking two virtual tours of Mars to evaluate the planet's potential to sustain life. As such they have to engage critical thinking skills such as inference to make their judgements.