Innovative Instruction, instructional technology, Video

Tech Tool: 360º Cameras in Teaching

What is a 360º camera?

front and back view of a 360 cameraIt’s a video/still camera with two lenses that takes images of what is happening all around the camera.

How does a 360º camera work?

Most of these cameras have a fisheye lens on each side of the camera and these lenses can capture 180º in all directions (top, bottom, left, right).  So basically you end up with two 180º photos or videos that are then either stitched together in the camera or in external computer software that normally comes with the camera.  

What can you do with them in teaching?

There are myriad ways to use the products from these cameras in the classroom.  Any instance where begin submerged in a location or an event brings learning is perfect for 360º video.  These images/videos can be created by the instructors or the students.  It allows the students in the class to experience a location or event from in the room, so you can bring in all sorts of experiences.  James King-Thompson says,

By introducing a ‘sense of presence’ to learners, these interactions have the potential to develop greater empathy and deeper understanding. Roman Krznaric, in Habits of Highly Empathic People (2012), suggests the following can be developed as a result:

• Cultivating curiosity about strangers
• Challenging prejudices and discover commonalities
• Gaining direct experience of other people’s lives
• Developing an ambitious imagination

These cameras are perfect for filming cultural dances or events, performances, political rallies, historical locations, re-enactments, overseas travel.  Again, the instructor can create these or you can send it out with your students as part of an assignment.

How can my students take advantage of these 360º images/video?

The bummer is that your students will need some type of 360º viewer such as Google Cardboard or a more expensive viewer.  The good news is that the Library, as well as TLThd, are trying to purchase these viewers so you and your students can view the videos/images in the class.

How do I buy a 360º Camera?

At this point, I can’t really tell you which camera to buy because they vary so much.  I can tell you some things to look into.

  • Timer – you want a delay timer so that you can trigger the video or image and then get out of the way.
  • Be sure it can fit on any tripod.  If you want to take this “on the road” like hiking or biking, be sure your camera can fit on multiple mounts such as a head mount.
  • Resolution: at least 4K video resolution is required to appear HD in quality; images that are at least 15 megapixels.
  • Built in stabilization.