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Pros: Virtual tours are packed with details from expert archaeologists and historians, and it's empowering to explore ancient sites at your own pace.
Cons: Solo subscription might be cost prohibitive for teachers; limited materials available so far for teachers.
Bottom Line: A flexible, inspiring way to explore history and spark imagination.
How Can I Teach with This Tool?
Yorescape is an app and website that features in-depth guided tours of notable sites from across the ancient world, including sites in ancient Rome, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt, and Mexico. Most "virtual tours" feature a series of "stops" that include a 360-degree, digitally reconstructed view of a historic site at its peak, like the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, the Roman Forum, and the Red Chapel of Hatshepsut. Each stop features voice-over narration from leading historians and archaeologists who explain the site's history, significance, and often the process by which researchers reconstructed these sites. Most sites feature a map where users can select the stops on the tour they'd like to visit, and three "free roam" sites allow users to explore sites on their own. The app is available by annual paid subscription: Teachers can buy an individual subscription for $49.99, and enterprise subscriptions are available for schools with tiered pricing based on school size. The $49.99 price point comes with group tours where you can stream on two devices at once and visit sites together.
To get started, teachers should take a spin through the free tour -- the Temple at Baalbek -- to get a feel for the app's structure and content. Each site displays an estimated amount of time for the tour ranging from under an hour to three hours (several minutes per stop). The stops don't play automatically, which can make for a staggered experience. The time warp feature allows students to see what the sites look like today as well as when they were active.
Plus, take a look at the free materials geared toward K–12 teachers: Google Docs with extensive lesson plan ideas, vocabulary lists, and discussion questions for two sites at the time of this review (the Roman Forum and the Acropolis), with more in development. Check out the developer's blog for a YouTube video from the museum educator who developed these materials; there are tons of ideas for how teachers might integrate Yorescape into their class. It could be a great fit for a social studies unit on geography or ancient world history. Think about how you might use the app with one device in the classroom or with one device per student. Ask students: What surprises you? What can you assume about how a space was used by looking at it? Talk about how people might have lived, worked, and played in these ancient places. How are these sites like sites in our own communities? What else do you want to learn about the people who built these places?