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Google Certified

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There was quite a bit about badges during my MAODE back in 2010-13. Have they taken off? No trivial achievement but these are being given out for Google Educator and many others. I have picked up certification for Thinglink and will be able to add further badges from Screencastify and Planet eStream. They have more meaning and have been better tested than almost all the MOOCs I have done with FutureLearn and Coursera. 

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A month at home - never been busier

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Asthmatic blowing on their Peak Flow Meter

As I'm asthmatic I started remote or 'distributed' working a week before my colleagues - some of whom stayed at college to man the phones.

The transition to working online, and bringing as many teachers and students up to speed, has been both swift and largely smooth. GBMET has had dedicated 'learning technologists' in a Digital Team for several years. We have been pushing to bring staff, educators and students online for the last two years. The last 9 months has seen a breakthrough with internal workshops and conferences, greater integration with internal marketing and more one to one coaching.

The current pandemic has made it all the more urgent. If we think of it in terms of the stages of 'diffusion of innovations' then in the space of a few weeks we've broken free to take in the 'late adopters'; a few so called 'laggards' remain. Not a term I like. Too pejorative. 'Late developers' or 'Traditionalists' might be better.

How are you getting on?

We use Google Suite for Education. 

I was thrilled when Thinglink announced yesterday that they were working closely with Google so that all Google assets can be directly embedded into Thinglinks or 'interactivities' - the term is evolving!! 'Thinglinks' are what we who use the platform call them. 'Interactivities' is the term coined by Jilly Salmon 12 years ago - it is less cumbersome that 'interactive activities'. 

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Ricoh Theta SC Guide

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Uses:

Double fisheye stills

Double fisheye video

Double fisheye live streaming


See the Ricoh Theta SC User Guide 


With a protruding fisheye lens on both sides of the camera use the pouch to keep the camera in, and to lay it on when charging or uploading images to avoid scratching the lens. 


Charging

Only charge through computer USB, not a wall socket.

A red light indicates that it is overheating. Unplug immediately. 

Green light on for charge. Light goes out once charged. 

A full charge takes 4 hours. 


The camera can be operated on its own, though it works best when synched to a smartphone or tablet. 


Synching

Synch with smartphone or tablet through wifi

The wifi reference for the camera indicates the password.


For example for camera: THETAJAY30121126.OSC

The password : 30121126 (the numbers only).

This also appears as YJ30121126 in tiny print on the camera itself.


More HERE > Connecting to a SmartPhone


Settings

Choose a network


Turn camera on

Wifi icon lit


Device finds wifi

Password 


Wifi connect is meant to be 10m but is more like 5m and will be affected by walls.


Mounting

Hand held

Desk tripod

Tripod with short feet (and weights)


While some of the image immediately below the camera is hidden when the two 360 images are stitched together it helps to use a tripod with a small footprint.

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I recommend the Koolehoad Monopod with has tripod legs.


If used outside and it is windy a couple of sandbags on the legs will keep it in place - or use a normal tripod and accept that the legs will show in the bottom of the image. 


Camera Settings

The ‘Automatic’ setting rarely gives the best results. Shutter speed will adjust exposure for overly bright, or overly dim images. The White Balance also needs to be set - this ensures that ‘white is white’ whether under bright sunlight, or various kinds of artificial light. 


Via device (smartphone or tablet)

Pull on the camera - you will see the image it is getting.

Along the bottom are the settings. 


More HERE > on Theta SC Shooting Conditions


  • Automatic

  • ISO: (low light or too bright)

  • Shutter Speed: (low light or fast action)

  • White Balance: Sunlight vs artificial and all the variations through shadow, neon, lamps. A piece of white card and adjust in the camera.


Video

You can only shoot in auto mode when shooting video. Settings such as the ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, white balance and exposure cannot be configured.


Self-Timer

Unless you want to appear in the shot set the self-timer to 10 Seconds

When you hit ‘shoot’ you get a visual countdown on your phone/tablet and ni the last 4 second a ‘Bleeped’ countdown before the shot is taken. 


Shutter Sound

Countdown ‘ping’ and shutter noise to help you get out of the shot.


Images

A double fish-eye lens is best in enclosed spaces and with the subject fairly close.

In the open sky can dominate.

If you want to feature people keep them close to the camera. 


Keep a record of the pictures being taken

Best practice to draw a simple lay-out of the room and plot where each 360 image is taken.

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Even a small room might benefit from the following shots:

By the entrance door.

Centre of the room.

Each corner

Close to major features.

It makes sense to have the camera at eye level - so 1m 70+ in the room, or at head height on a chair or by a desk.

Any number of further interesting shots with the camera placed on, in or close to things can be added.

For close-ups it is better to use a standard camera and add this image as a ‘hotspot’ link.


Transferring Images

Downloading images

The Ricoh Theta App can be used to view images in 360

These will transfer to the device

Also on the camera

An image is around 3.5-3.8MB. 

Click through the Camera Icon Ricoh Theta to Fixed Storage to DCIM to 100RICOH 

Then drag and drop into an appropriate folder.

Can ‘Delete all images’ if loading into an image App (but college computers generally do not permit saving to the desktop - images have to be saved to the network). 

These images may look like peculiar, double fisheye or panoramic images until on a platform that supports viewing as a 360 image. 


Images are backed up on your phone/tablet and can be uploaded from there if images on the Ricoh are lost or deleted. 


USB to computer as for charging

Identify device

Select where images will be saved.

Catalogue

Select those to colour correct (if desired)


Adobe Lightroom to adjust: 

Exposure

Contrast

Blacks

Whites

Clarity

Sharpness


At this point poor images that can’t be rescued can be deleted, or simply not added to ThingLink.

It also starts to become clear where there may be unnecessary overlap, so an image may not be required. Best to keep it offline.


This might also be the time to ‘redact’ someone who is appearing inadvertently - students would need to sign a release form for content shared online. 

 

Export

The 360 images can be viewed on their own on Facebook or Google Photos and as  video on YouTube. They can also be viewed through a 360 headset. An app for smartphones allows images to be broken into left and right eye.


ThingLink

We have been using the platform ThingLink which allows ‘tags’ or ‘hot spots’ to be added, as well as links made between a series of shots to create a VR Tour. This platform can also be used by students to annotate and tag images, whether 2D or 360. 

You can try the platform for free for a month, longer by negotiation. It can take a while to bring others on board.

It makes life easier to upload in the approximate order in which the VR Tour will be built and if there are a lot of images to add them in small batches. 

Numerous alternative platforms exist to create 3d Architectural spaces and models or tours. All will require a subscription at some point. 


Get Organised

List: Camera Ref or renamed.

Best down in landscape 

ThingLink URL


Once you have  loaded your images onto ThingLink create a ‘Channel’ and post all your images to this. 


The order in which they are added can facilitate the creation of a tour by keeping batches of images together, say for a room, and in the chronological order of a typical tour, or indeed the order in which the shots were taken. 


Any icons can be used provided by ThingLink though we have a set of GB MET branded arrows/links. 


Troubleshooting

Over a series of 20 shots, or use after 45 mins the link between the device (mobile or tablet) may be lost.

Turn the camera on and off - find the link and redo.


Loading images

Check the USB connection until your computer registers the device.


Shot Activation not working

Close the app and re-open until the 360 image appears and the button can be activated.


You keep appearing in the image!

The self-timer has to be reset if the App, phone or camera is turned off.


Updating Firmware

Intermittently the firmware on the camera will require an upgrade 

ThingLink are great at improving their platform. Lately this has facilitated creating tours to the point that I describe creating a tour as 'electronic PostIt notes'. You can add voice over narration to the shot directly. You can post content to Google Classroom for lessons. You can download to work or view offline. 

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Take a look and tell me what you think!

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Screenshort of part of a 360 tour of a bricklaying workshop

I've stitched together three tours which cover each of Electronics, Mechanical Engineering and Electronics labs. 

Electronics 360° Interactive  http://bit.ly/2uovM2U

Mechanical Engineering 360° Interactive   http://bit.ly/2w1imKy

Bricklaying  360° Interactive  http://bit.ly/2T9Q6xn

These can be used as they are, ideally if someone clicks around the space telling an audience what they are looking at. To use independently it is so easy to add this voice over. You just click on a scene and talk about it! 

As you have seen much more can be added depending on the intended use:

‘Hot spots’ where a video clip, or explanatory text and an image are used.

‘Hot spots’ that click to a close up.

Addition of ‘Interactive Activities’ – as demonstrated here in Catering.

Catering http://bit.ly/2w3izwN  

Any one of these ‘360 Tours’ can be ‘cloned’ i.e. copied in its entirety, renamed, and used for a different purpose, for example:

Health & Safety : we add further shots indicating a hazard and students must identify these and understand what to do

Teleport’ off site : 360 is wonderful for taking an audience somewhere out of bounds or inaccessible. With the right permissions I could get shots from a nuclear power plant, electricity sub-station, building site … you name it (In a former career I have produced training videos for all of these and many more!)


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Bricklaying 360 Tour and Induction

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A 360 interactive tour of a bricklaying workshop

The first set of colour graded photographs looked far too yellow - as if I had been taking photographs in Spain. A poor computer display, which I ahave still failed to calibrate, exacerbates the problem. Being a whizz I got on and re-graded 16 photos in Adobe Lightroom, rebuild the 360 tour in Thinglink and only then started to add, experimentally, some 'hot spots'. 

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And another one of these

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A stage that awaits a series of etivities, a narrative voice-over and a series of video clips too.

An empty electronics workshop and classroom

Electrical Workshop : https://www.thinglink.com/video/1286328259365044225

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Give this a go! Four etivities to get stuck into !

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A screengrab of a 360 interactive tour with a set of embedded interactive activities to complete

Do we have lift off? 

I'm starting to see how a 360° tour of a catering teaching facility using some 16 360° images.

From diving in my lost post I am now elevating into flight mode. I'm something of a co-pilot on this one. I created the stage, as it were, while a colleague created the activities which I have started to embed within it.

Have a go > HERE Catering 23 + Etivities 

Let me know how you got on.

For now I'm running with the term coined by Jilly Salmon for 'Interactive Activities' = 'etivities'. I'm not convinced it'll catch up.


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Interactive 2d and 360 images and tours

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I have been playing around with Thinglink for 18 months. I must have three or four accounts by now, that I run, or that I have set up for others ... and also run.

My latest is a group account so that students I will be working with can take images, add them and collaborate on creating 360 tours.

We are going to be creating a tour of an early years nursery.

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Appraisal Time

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What's your experience of a formal work appraisal? To what degree does setting objectivews for the next six months help or hinder? How much flexibility is there? And if the appraisal is sent up the chain what can someone say in summary who you rarely see and never work with say of value?

I've enjoyed the focus and hope to deliver on closer ties to creative industries, using platforms like Planet eStream and Thinglink, and even cracking on with Google Educator 1, 2 and Trainer certification - though  NOT through much use of Google's own online learning (videos, text and multiple choice tests) which I find forgetable and confusing. 

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Three steps forward and a ladder. No snakes!

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A successful day in JV's world of TEL. 2 1/2 hours with a SEND student and his Support Assistant clicking through 360 tours of the GB MET sites. It was wonderful to share his enthusiasms and to look at ways to follow this up by involving him in creations and additions to these.

Set of 360 images of the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth

An easy win too with Planet eStream, changing a student schema to a staff and uploading 4 campus shot interviews as 'College Network' and 'Staff Only' and made readily viewable in one place with the ability to add to these any variety of links or further content.

Still from a documentary on Bansky from YouTube

All this and as I complete three months doing the Social Media for Lewes Green Party I put up a piece linking to 'More or Less' on the Election in which the money raised by different parties is measured in time to count out a stash of £10 notes. No guessing for which parties come out of top. I was surprised to find the Green Party were ahead of the Scottish National Party though.

£10 notes

Should politicians be able to buy our votes in this way?

Ruth Alexander, BBC 4, imagined how long it would take to count the cash received by each political party at the rate of £10 note every sec: 

1/4hr: SNP

4 hr 20 mns: Green

24 hrs: LibDems

3 days: Brexit party

5 days: Labour Donation

2 Wks: Conservatives 


https://bbc.in/2LLuaWm 



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Working on the Nitty Gritty of SEND support

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Cerating a series of 360 Tours for SEND students is one thing - providing the level of detail that will support their curiosity and interest is another. With reading, though not understanding, often the issues, wherever possible Immerserive Reader is used on text.

https://www.thinglink.com/video/1246837831456784385

 

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SEND Independent Travel Training

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Nov 2019, 14:33

It's all joined up - from College, via three pelican crossing, a bus and a pedestrianised zone with mized traffic use to one of the student's favourite destinations - Greggs! 

This will have a collection of 360 images linked together with close ups of key parts of the journey, such as the Pelican Crossing request button and the Red and Green Man, the electronic guide to when a bus is due, then on the bus using a swipe card, taking your seat, and knowing when to press the Stop Button before getting off. Then navigating the street in the right direction towards the planned destination. This might be Greggs, but can also be McDonalds. 

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Here's one I made earlier: Thinglink tour of Music & Music Technology at GB MET

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https://www.thinglink.com/mediacard/1150051487406096387 

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Thinglink Certified Educator

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 15 Nov 2019, 14:07

It's official ! I know my stuff. I can use all the tools and teach others how to use it too. 

 

ThingLink Certified Educators are asked to complete several expertise modules as part of the certification process. The educators are required to complete 5 modules using all ThingLink features and share their work.

 

https://demo.thinglink.com/thinglink-certified-educator-registration?hsCtaTracking=24f65307-0ea6-45f0-852a-6f545cc5e210%7C6e395fe5-e2fc-42f5-8f70-c9663abbf088 

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Heading out to take a series of 360 images

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Delighted that Stagecoach have been so supportive in my efforts to create an interactive 'Independent Travel Tour' for SEND students. They are not only OK with my taknig photos on the bus (just speak to the driver), but also offered to lay on a bus at the depot.

McDonald's, the favourite destination of the students, were good too.

A set of 360 clickable images in a 'Tour' will then taken the students from the college, across a couple of roads, to the bus stop, onto a bus, into town and through the shopping mall to McDonald's - and then back again!

I'll share the link here > 

All to be shot on a Ricoh Theta SC and stitched together on ThingLink. 

 

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So east to add enriching elements like sound and video

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 4 Nov 2019, 15:24

 

 

https://www.thinglink.com/video/1244292101298978817

This is a piece of voice over recorded by one of our performing arts students

There are also simply video clips on how to swipe in and out of the centre, and how to login to a computer

https://www.thinglink.com/video/1244289378725920769

The idea is that anyone will find it easy to create interactive 360 tours such as this for all kinds of different reasons. 

Where do you think the applications are going to be most powerful? 

 

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Skype with the Creator/Owner CEO of ThingLink

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 1 Nov 2019, 12:25

‘Beautiful images’ said CEO of ThingLink, Ulla Maaria Koivula

I had a delightful exchange with Ulla Maaria Koivual the Creator and CEO of the burgeoning interactivities platform ThingLink this morning. 

Being in Helsinki and over from the US she can more easily take up a Skype call. Otherwise this would have been late evening last night for her, breakfast for me.

I told my story, in part, with the ThingLink platform over the last 18 months. I couldn't honestly remember why or how I ended up trialing ThingLink. We had one 360 camera, bought a couple more and I started to take images. Then we looked for a host platform and tried more than one. At some point, probably because of an email making positive noises from ThingLink we got a free trial that was extended many times. Breaching some parameters summer 2018 when we got a lot of visitors I had to beg to keep us online until I pushed through a tiny spend shared between Learning Resource and Met Marketing. They were happy to oblige - keen to see the platform being used. 

I shared how interest in the platform would wax and wane and how I try to sell myself to tutors as their very own agency and support and facilitor. I offered reasons why something is not followed through: students back from holidays, curriculum and time pressures ...

I gushed about the recent upgrades:

Ease of creating a 360 tour with Thumbnails

Ease of adding text and massive plus for Immersive Reader for accessibility reasons.

And just added, on the fly, a bit of audio yesterday (this to a video clip of hands pressing the Ctrl, Alt an Delete keys at a computer keyboard.

Nervously I dug out on the fly the gmail sign ins for Marketing and for Learning and Ulla was immediately able to see what I was doing, the plan we are on and much more besides I am sure. 

I introduced GB MET and the advantages of being a vocational college covering things such as: construction, carpentry, aeronautics, motor vehicle workshops, performing arts, theatre, props and special effects, textiles, fine art and fashion and so on. 

Ulla, coming from a teacher background some eons ago - maybe 10 years I think,  wants the platform used in the classroom for collaborative project learning. Later I explained to someone how I saw this happening, say a trip behind the scenes at Glyndbourne with students taking images then tagging and annotating what they saw as a project to submit as course work. Then the act of doing this work itself embeds and ingrains the knowledge they have created and thought (and fought) over. 

My experience qualifies me as a Educator. I go beyond meeting the basic criteria. Am I the first person in the UK to gain this recognotion? 

Possibly!

It is hoped that I will be able to attend Bett Jan 23 to 26th in London and that some of the work I have created for GB MET will be showcased.

I joined the ThingLink Facebook  Educators to be part of the community of active users.

 

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So easy and intuative

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 Oct 2019, 12:57

Using ThingLink to create a simple, clickable, 360° tour of the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) at one of our 5 sites at GB MET for SEND students (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) I simply shot this clip on an iPad, which uploaded to my Google Photos album. I could have edited but had no need to do so. Labelled and downloaded I simply added the clip which can play on a loop until the user clicks away. I clicked on a microphone 'audio' button and added a simple commentary and we're done.

What I did find however, is that using the text box with a video clip sees the clip severely cropped. Next time I will also shot some far wider frames, possibly with a bias to the right hand side of the frame, so that the automatic cropping complements the video playback rather than rendering it useless - It is hardly good practice to show someone the need to press the Ctlr, Alt and Delete buttons together if you can only see one button. The SEND students I am advised have the mental age of children under the age of 10. 

Here's the link to this frame : https://www.thinglink.com/video/1244289378725920769 


What do you think?

How might these be used?

Health & Safety training and tours of college workshops?

Visits to distance building sites?

Underwater interactive tours of underwater cave systems?

What happens if you shrink to the size of a pea and are then accidentally swallowed? 

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ThingLink tour of Learning Resource Centre for SEND Students using Immersive Reader

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The breakthrough over recent months is the ease to create one of these tours. Here the added benefit is text that can be read by Microsoft's Immersive Reader -  this makes accessibility possible with the user in charge over fonts, backgrounds and the way in which the text is read out.

Give it a go! Provide feedback. The tutor for our Special Educational Needs Students has given a resounding thumbgs up. It's the opportunity to click on lots of things, and to repeat peices they keep forgetting without having to forever ask for help (or not).

A few things yet to add and the approach will be developed once I am siting down with the students themselves to see how they respond.

https://www.thinglink.com/mediacard/1244284378704510977

 

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Need an introduction to an easy to use interactivities tool ?

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This is ThingLink. Staring out as a tool for adding some interactivity to a 2d image now it embraces 360 images and 360 video and everything in between. You can add text and images, video clips and clinks. Text is now accessibility compliant was it works with Microsoft Immersive Reader.

I'm in a conference call with its creator and CEO Ulla Maaria Koivula and the head of development Ivan Kiprin on Friday to talk about their newly launched, or to be developed 'ThingLink Eductor' accreditation.

 

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Presenting on Planet eStream and ThingLink

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I am now in my element presenting these two multi-media platforms to PGCE Students.

It's nice to be able to do everything on the fly.

 

 

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Excited about ThingLink upgrades

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I have used ThingLink extensively over the last 18 months so am delighted with the upgrades even if several of them require me to learn some new techniques:

Not only is it becoming, far, far easier to use but upgrades include:

·         Content can be downloaded to use offline.

·         Audio can be added ‘in real time’ to the screen you are looking at.

·         All text added using the ThingLink editor automatically includes Immersive Audio greatly improving accessibility.

With education in mind and giving students access to the platform for project work:

·         Content can be shared, so a project can be developed collaboratively.

·         Content can be developed as an assignment with grades given for responses. So a Health & Safety tour now becomes an interactive quiz with grades given out at the end.

And much more besides! 

A choice of 65 instant language versions, tags in 360 video …

Tours themselves are already far easier to create as images are linked by selecting thumbnails of the image you want to ‘teleport’ to, rather than having to use a 27 digit URL.

 

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A lot more of this: ThingLink 360° Interactive Tours

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One of the Control Rooms in the impressive complex of live rooms, control rooms, post-production and other rooms (DJ room, sound booth) all at Northbrook MET, West Durrington where I am based at least once a week - often throughout the week supporting various creative departments inlcuding Performing Arts, Props & SFX, Textiles and Music & Music Technology.

Music : http://bit.ly/2kpQyue

Theatre : http://bit.ly/2m4IM9n 

Textiles : http://bit.ly/2lM2Gpp

Props & SFX : http://bit.ly/2lHeE3J 

 

 

 

 

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Simle done. A 360 Tour of the Learning Resource Centre aimed at Students with Special Educational Needs

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https://qrgo.page.link/ddGmb 

 

There are distinct limitations when using an 'off the shelf' platform. The design component is limited so you have to use your imagination to generate text that is large and accessible. For now this features my voice too. My prefered option will be to video a student doing this and either use them 'in vision' or as a voice over.

Watch this space. 

Now I suppose I need to add some voice over narration to several dozen other such 360 tours. 

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"It feels like being there!"

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Last year I took over 1,000 360 photos on a Ricoh Theta SC camera. I created some 18 360 tours such as these. I have many other collections of shots of Anne of Cleves House, Lewes Castle and the Langermarke German Cemetery amongst them that I am yet to stitch together.

Do they really 'take you there' ? Yes it is novel, and with a headset there is an immersive experience. Sound helps. But as an experience there is no story, no journey, no narrative or characters. This is where games design experience needs to be involved. 

In our efforts to engage students I will be 'manning' a stall at the GB MET Freshers' Fair, each day for 4 hours at a different campus. I will be armed with cards showing something like these above with a QR Code and shortened URL in the hope that some will be curious and take a look on their phones. Hopefully I'll have iPads, Chrome Books, a touchscreen PC and even a giant smartscreen. 

This should take you on a 360 tour of the Northbrook MET, West Durrington Campus.

 

 

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