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De Pere students create a new learning reality

By Lee Reinsch

DE PERE – De Pere School Board members donned some funny-looking eyewear Nov. 18, when technology students showed off the fruits of their latest labors.

The eyewear was virtual reality goggles, and students helped create the visuals seen from inside.

The students used the Packers Heritage Trail Virtual Reality Project and its 25 stops as the basis for their project.

They visited and recorded images at each stop and interviewed Packers team historian Cliff Christl to narrate the virtual reality version of the tour.

The students used a 360-degree camera to record the sights around each monument, giving viewers the same view they’d see if they stood in front of each stop and turned slowly around in a circle.

“The students did everything but drive the car,” said technology integration coach Josh Gauthier. “They handled the 360 camera as well as a DSLR camera we used to get specific shots of things, like the signs, at each location.”

Gauthier and Chris Hendricks led the project.

Hendricks is Talented and Gifted (TAG) Resource teacher for grades 5 through 12.

The Packers Heritage Trail is a free, self-guided walking, driving, or biking tour that opened a few years ago.

It starts outside the Neville Museum, hits over a dozen spots downtown, most of which are marked with bronze plaques, veers north to City Stadium, then heads south past Curly Lambeau’s grave site and his Allouez home into De Pere.

After the fun part of the project – hanging out outdoors – students went back to school to upload their imagery.

They edited-out any hands, feet, or tripods that were captured by the camera when they filmed over their heads.

Then they used that imagery to create the tour in Google Tour Creator, Gauthier said.

A group of students used a tool called Soundtrap, along with a Blue Yeti USB microphone, to record their conversations with Christl, in which the author narrated each of the 25 stops along the Packers Heritage Trail.

Students edited the sound clips and exported them into an MP3 file, to upload into the virtual tour.

Hendricks said virtual reality integrates digital photography, video, audio and other elements to create a lifelike experience for those using it.

The program does not require virtual reality goggles to enjoy.

It can be viewed in 360-degree panoramic vision on a computer screen or phone at tinyurl.com/DPHeritageTrail.

The project wasn’t entirely picture perfect – but glitches only added a new dimension to the learning experience, Gauthier said.

And what a glitch it was.

“On the second stop of our full day out to capture all 25 locations, we were using a tripod to put the 360 camera on,” Gauthier said. “However, it was on an angle, and a gust of wind blew it over, destroying it.”

Instead of panicking or packing it all in for the semester, the students did some real-life problem solving.

“We determined we could take some panoramic imagery with the iPad we had with us,” Gauthier said.

He also contacted friends in the Ashwaubenon School District, who loaned them a 360-degree camera.

“Even though the gadgets were fun and seeing the town was great, I think the greatest learning really happened in how we responded to unforeseen obstacles, as well as the power of networking,” Gauthier said.

Sometimes it’s necessary to go outside the frame to create a well-rounded picture.

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