Review by Shaun Langevin, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2019

Tour Creator

Simple Google tool puts kids at the helm of creating VR experiences

Subjects & skills

  • Creativity
  • Character & SEL
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Useful features to add narration, ambient audio, and 360-degree photos.

Cons: No built-in audio recording capability or initial tutorial.

Bottom Line: Allows teachers and students to create compelling tours for viewing in VR or on a web browser.

Teachers can use Tour Creator to create a VR field trip for their students, or, better yet, have students create them for each other and the world. Students studying their local community can create a guided tour of important buildings and landmarks. Older students could get permission to take their own 360-degree photos and record audio at specific locations or building interiors, adding those to their tours. Students studying different countries and cultures can create tours centered around places that show certain aspects of that culture. Learners could also make a tour tracing a historical figure's life, adding narration at specific geographical locations to explain their importance. Tour Creator could be used in creative writing, where students chart the journey of a character they created through the world. After a real-world field trip, students can re-create the experience in VR, reflecting on their experience and explaining what they've learned.

With tools like these, students often like to add their home address to a tour, which is personal information that shouldn't be made public. Tours can be published unlisted or publicly, so teachers have some choices to help protect student privacy. Take the opportunity to discuss this important part of digital citizenship with your students.

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Tour Creator is a website by Google that allows teachers and students to create tours for VR (virtual reality) or in a web browser. After logging in with a Google account, Tour Creator will ask for a title, description, and cover photo for the tour. Students can then type a specific address or search for the desired location. Tour Creator will load Google Street View's photos alongside a panel that allows students to add a description, credits, and points of interest, and upload narration or ambient (background) audio. Points of interest are tiny circular graphics that will draw the viewer's attention. Each can have a description, narration, and even photos, allowing students to explain specific aspects of each scene; the credits field lets students cite sources as well. Students and teachers can click "add scene" until they've added all of the desired scenes. When the tour is complete, students can publish it as unlisted or public. Unlisted will only work for people who have the link, while the public option will leave the tour findable by anyone.

Currently, only Android devices running Google Expeditions support custom-made tours, though iOS support is coming at some point. By default, a tour is only viewable in VR on Google Expeditions from the account in which it was created. However, if students send peers and teachers the link to their tour, they can share it to their own Expeditions account, simplifying the sharing process. 

Google's Tour Creator is a useful content creation tool that helps move VR from a passive to an active experience. If it's used in ways mentioned in this review, such as exploring a local community or charting the journey of a historical or fictional figure, teachers will find student-created tours useful for assessing student learning. 

One glaring issue is that audio cannot be recorded within the tool itself. Students need to use a different app or website to record audio, and then upload that recording to each scene. While this is by no means a deal-breaker, the workflow of Tour Creator would be significantly improved if it could handle its own narration recording.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students and teachers will enjoy using virtual tours to showcase learning; opportunities to add narration and students' own 360-degree photos help to personalize the experience. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Student-created virtual tours can be useful for assessing student learning, and the ability to add your own photos means Tour Creator can find a place in any teacher's curriculum.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

While Tour Creator is simple to use, there are no getting started tips or tutorials, making the first-time use a bit of trial and error.

Common Sense Reviewer
Shaun Langevin Technology coordinator

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