Most teachers in Ireland have been there! We all know the scenario! A typical miserable, wet winter’s Friday afternoon and the pupils haven’t been to the yard at lunch time. The classroom is gloomy, the pupils are restless and the going home bell is still a good two hours away!
An ideal opportunity to take the pupils out of the classroom and into a place of excitement and learning without ever having to open the classroom door. Virtual tours are popping up all over the Web; most reputable museums have virtual tours and so do some research trips that are exploring far flung parts of the globe. You can even go on a virtual tour of the Solar System and beyond!
Some virtual tours are quite basic, merely 360 degree panoramic images while others have interactive features and additional educational resources. I decided to focus on just a few of the many thousands of tours that are available on the Web.
My first port of call is the Smithsonian, an amazing resource for teachers and it offers a wonderful virtual experience! Pupils can take a self guided, room by room, walking tour of the entire museum. Pop up maps of the three floors can be used to move around or pupils can move from room to room by clicking on blue arrows on the floor. The virtual tour is multi-platform (Windows & Mac) and is also available for mobile devices such as the iPad or Android devices. The desktop versions includes additional features that allow the user to view hotspots of individual exhibits.
Next up is a series of archived resources from the Arctic. This free resource allows pupils to explore the Arctic through the medium of long Arctic journeys pulled by sled dogs. The site helps pupils to explore natural and social sciences related to the bio diversity and peoples of the frozen North.
My final resource comes from Scholastic, a Global Trek, allowing students to travel the globe from their desks. This would be an ideal companion resource to an SESE project or addition to a pupil’s digital portfolio. The site has a “journal” feature that allows pupils to keep track of their travelling experiences.
The site also makes life extremely easy for teachers! There are lots of planning and implementation resources available to download as well as suggested lesson extensions.
While visiting the Scholastic site I also came across a wide range of other resources that I feel are worth mentioning in this blog.
1: A wonderful panorama of the Great Fire of London.
2: A PDF reproduction of an extract Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.
Happy Virtual Touring!