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Degrees of Immersion: Use 360-Degree Video to Create Compelling Storytelling

by Pamela Hogle

December 15, 2016


by Pamela Hogle

December 15, 2016

“Technology offers new formats for creating immersive experiences. … Using 360-degree video to augment safety training would allow learners to identify and spot problem areas, demonstrating their proficiency in assessment tests. Firefighters could study scenes that can never be re-created by viewing the video over and over. And naturalists and park rangers could use 360-degree video to teach learners about fragile ecosystems and parts of national parks that are inaccessible to the public.”

Great storytelling is immersive in that it draws readers or listeners in and transports them to a different world. Even low-tech reading can be an immersive experience for an avid reader who’s found a gripping page-turner. In an immersive language class, the target language is the only language used; non-speakers are forced to figure out from context and by building on previous days’ learning. Technology provides new formats for creating immersive experiences, offering the potential to create eLearning experiences that can capture and hold learners’ attention.

The ultimate immersive experience, virtual reality, remains out of reach for many eLearning designers. To bridge that gap and create affordable immersive eLearning, consider 360-degree video. Here’s a guide to what it can—and cannot—accomplish when used as part of an eLearning program.

Put learners at center of action

Using 360-degree video puts the viewer literally in the center of the action. If the space where a story takes place is central to the eLearning, or if examining a location is a component of the eLearning, there’s no better tool. Using 360-degree video is strongly recommended for any scenario in which learners need to see a place, the people and items in a place, or, especially, the juxtaposition of people and items. Two-dimensional photography or video cannot always convey the visual aspects of a place adequately or give viewers a full sense of what it’s like to be there; 360-degree photography or video offers a fuller perspective.

Movement is an important element of 360-degree video. The cameras can move through a space while handheld, on a dolly, or on a drone. This type of movement can be uncomfortable for some viewers to watch, though, causing effects similar to motion sickness. Stabilizing the video during editing can help alleviate the problem.

Alternatively, the videographer can remain stationary and record the movement around a fixed spot, which can bring the space to life for viewers. Instructional designers should choose stories for 360-degree video carefully: Static scenes are poor candidates because learners won’t remain engaged in an immersive story with no action!

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