Tuesday, June 18, 2013

3D/Virtual World History Apps for iPads

If this is where free educational apps for social studies are going, the future is going to be literally awesome!
I'm talking about three apps created by Jerusalem.com and one by the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archeology.  When using these four apps I have been amazed by the ability of technology to transport me across the world and through time.  Every time I have demonstrated these for teachers, they have been equally amazed.
Let's start with the Dome of the Rock 3D Tour, which takes us virtually where non-Muslims can not go, into the shrine on top of the Temple Mount in the heart of Jerusalem.  The tour can be run on autopilot or it can be controlled by the viewer to look in and around the Dome in any direction.  The visuals and colors are truly stunning and for a freshman world history student who has never been to the Middle East.  The same holds for the other two apps, The Western Wall 3D Tour and Holy Sepulchre 3D Tour from Jerusalem.com.
The tours can be used as an activity through the autopilot mode or the user can control it through the specific stops on the tour to answer questions or make observations as they progress through the holy sites.
Jerusalem.com does a great job of handling the holy sites of the three religions with equal enthusiasm.  I was initially skeptical that one of the three would get preferential treatment, but from what I could tell, the tours were created evenhandedly.
These three apps are also available from the Jerusalem.com website for desktop use.  There are also a number of other tours throughout Jerusalem available at Jerusalem.com.
One caveat about Jerusalem.com is that the apps require that the user register through Facebook or through Jerusalem.com.  The tours are worth jumping through these hoops.
I strongly suggest if you are a world history teacher that you get these apps and use them with your students.  If you know a world history teacher, please suggest it to them.
Tour of the Nile took some figuring out, but once I "got it," it was amazing.   After I downloaded the app it didn't do anything.  After some researching, I realized that I needed to go to the Petrie's website and download the A-R Markers on to my desktop.  Once I did that, turned on the 3D camera, and pointed my iPad camera toward my laptop's screen, the objects jumped off my screen and could be turned and flipped over and I could click on them to get historical information about the objects.  It was awesome!  I can't wait to show my budding Egyptologist seven year old son.  He's going to love it and I know world history students will love it too!
Have fun with the apps and let me know what you think.

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