Sphere App Lets Students See Other Parts of the World
As iPads and other high-tech products have found their way into the classroom, so too have the apps that can assist in innovative and immersive teaching techniques.
Teachers at all levels can now enhance lesson plans with the help of a free augmented reality app called Sphere, formerly known as TourWrist. Sphere allows students to look at panoramas of other parts of the world so that they can see the places that history and science lessons take them (Students can view a panorama of the Milky Way and Mars).
With the help of an iPhone or iPad, the 360º view let’s students feel as if they are stepping into the panorama that moves the view as they move the iPad. Students can take a look inside a scene at the Louvre in Paris, see what St. Petersburg looks like, and observe the ruins of the Coliseum without leaving the classroom.
Along with enhancing lesson plans, Sphere can be used for younger students to get acquainted with a classroom before the school year begins, or for prospective college students to get a virtual tour of a college campus without spending money on a plane ticket.
“I have a 3D sphere tour of our Student Union with links on food choices and information such as where free/reduced lunch is accepted,” wrote Jill Compher, an AP Sociology and Psychology teacher at Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.
Teachers have also employed the multipurpose app for writing classes. Students gain inspiration by being able to virtually transport to almost any part of the world and build a scene with the help of a detailed panorama that can be uploaded by users from all over the world.
“Sphere is so immersive and, with the link functionality on the web based version, interactive. Instead of using static flat often pedestrian textbook images, sphere allows students to get a full view of the topic at hand,” wrote Charles Cooper, the 2012 Humanities Texas Teacher of the Year, “Since Sphere panoramas virtually cover the planet, teachers can use the immersive images to teach biomes, climate, architecture, cultural differences, erosion, & (best of all) students can create their panoramic images of historical events with imbedded multimedia links! It’s like the 2013 version of those old school dioramas.”
Sphere can be used for many subjects and in any way that an instructor can think of. Use the app to take students on a virtual field trip to the Eiffel Tower or take them on a worldwide scavenger hunt. The possibilities are endless with the Sphere app that knows no bounds.
The updated free Sphere app that includes the feature to record 360º spheres with an iPhone (4S, 5, 5C, 5S) with and without the pairing of Motrr Galileo, is now available at the Apple App Store. By giving students the freedom to create their own content, Dan Smigrod, Sphere’s Chief Marketing officer, says that “Sphere could bring ‘show and tell’ back to the classroom.” The Sphere app is also available for Androids.
Michelle is a current graduate student at Emerson College and an intern at Boston's public radio station. She enjoys exploring the world of educational technology and writing about the ever-changing sector and its potential.