By Alix Pehette
Cross-posted from The Impetuous Geek
Live, real-time field trips involve all the senses. We walk, stand and turn around to view our surroundings. We move closer to inspect an object or look to see a distant view. The experience is immersive and that’s what makes it memorable.
The opportunities for field trips are often limited by funding, transportation issues and administrative paperwork. As a former 7th grade world history teacher, field trips were out of the question. A lot of time was spent trying to bring history alive through images of the landscapes, monuments and architecture we were studying. Textbook images and even stunning photographs projected on the large screen didn’t give the sense of being there. The available virtual field trips were more like surfing web sites. However, that was then and technology has changed everything.
Welcome to the world of possibilities with panoramic photography! The word panorama is a photographic term with a long history. The Library of Congress – American Memory
has an extensive collection of historic panoramic photographs
. The single wide-lens photograph evolved into individual images that were stitched together visually
New technologies have created online cubic immersive panoramas that let the viewer navigate in a 360 degree circle, viewing everything that is visible from one spot. These virtual reality images are viewed with QuickTime Player
, Flash Player
, or Shockwave.
A good cubic panorama can almost take your breath away with the sense of being there - the technology is that amazing.
New to panoramas? How about a trip to the top of Mount St. Helens volcano?
Panoramas tend to load slowly depending on bandwidth so wait until the image is fully downloaded before navigating in the image.
Not surprisingly, many panoramas are hosted by commercial web sites such as travel agencies and hotels. What better way to give potential tourists a glimpse of ancient and exotic locations?
While commercial panorama sites abound, teachers need to be alert for adult-themed images.
Connecting with the Curriculum
Finding panoramas to support the curriculum requires some sleuthing in unexpected locations. Government and non-profit sites such as the UNESCO World Heritage Tour
and the National Park Service
are good places to look in addition to the commercial sites. Once you start finding these gems, it’s easy to make connections to archeology, art, astronomy, cartography, English language arts, foreign languages, geography, geology, mathematics, science and social studies.
Keywords and phrases that unearth panoramas on the web include: 360 degree view; panoramic; cubic panoramas; pano; immersive tours; virtual tours; virtual field trips and QTVR (QuickTime Virtual Reality).
Viewing and Navigating Panoramas
Once these images are projected with a SmartBoard, LCD or DPL projector, there is a slight learning curve in how to navigate inside the image. A mouse-click-and-drag on the image will move the view to left or right, up or down. Hold down the Shift key to zoom in and use the Control key to zoom out.
Some panoramas are embedded in viewers that limit the overall size. Others have full-screen options for viewing which really puts you in the picture. Most updated web browsers also have a full-screen toggle option that opens image to fill the screen.
Creating links to panorama site is the easiest way to show these images in the classroom if the network has sufficient bandwidth. In the case of limited bandwidth, some panoramas can be downloaded for play on a local computer. RealPlayer 11 Gold Free Edition does a good job of downloading most online media.
PBS Teachers – Copyright and Fair use
Teachers First – Copyright and Fair Use
UNESCO World Heritage Tour
Need to register (free) to use controls
360 Days, Everyday Life Panoramas – 360 Degrees Scrapbook
Traditions of the Sun – Exploring Ancient Observatories
The New 7 Wonders of the World
Nova – Antarctica – Mountain of Ice
Stonehenge at Dawn – British Tours
The World Wide Panorama – Geography Computing Facility at the Unive...
Many images of the contemporary world and events
Cyark – 3D Cultural Heritage Sites
Register (free) to access the K-12 lesson plans and other resources
Panoramas of World War II Monuments 1945-2007
Virtually the World
14,000 Virtual Tours across over 110 cities and countries
United States Panoramas
Cliff Palace Ruins
VR Movies of California Missions
Mount St. Helens
National Parks of the American Southwest - Photographs and panoramas
National Park Service - Panoramas of National Parks
Virtual Tour of Big Bend National Park
The Art of Geography – Virtual Parks
Commercial site with 121 full-screen panoramas of national parks
Pano Guide – Panoramic photography explained
Magic Lantern Slides – The Berkeley Geography Collection - Historic...
San Francisco in Ruins -The 1906 Aerial Photographs of George R. La...
Integrating Google Earth Imagery and Cubic QTVR Panoramas into Web-...