Virtual Tours in Online Training

E-Learning Challenge #44: Challenge | Recap

In last week’s org chart challenge, you shared creative ways to virtually introduce learners to key players in your organization. Your demos were amazing and included everything from standard org charts to creative meet the team examples.

In the spirit of virtual introductions, I thought we’d look at ways to introduce learners to locations using virtual tours. Virtual tours are a great way for learners to experience remote locations—just like they would if they were on a real-world field trip.

Before we jump into this week’s challenge, let’s look at some examples and basic considerations for designing virtual tours.

Simple Tours

One of the easiest tours to create involves a floor plan or cutaway shot of a location with buttons placed over key areas. Clicking each button loads a modal window containing information about the area. These are easy to build and a great starting point for virtual tours.

Energy House

Maps and Photos

Using the floor plan concept, tours can use creative layouts to combine maps and photos. I really like the way the LA Times created this virtual home tour. Clicking each camera icon reveals a photo for that given location. Notice how the camera icon changes to indicate the direction the photo was taken.

The single-family artist colony

Another option is to use the map only for reference and place the interactivity on the photos. In this example, users navigate by clicking through a series of photos while the map is visually updated to indicate the general area of the photo.

A Wine Tour of Collio, by Vespa

Audio-Based Tours

Audio-based tours emphasize narration over fancy graphics and interaction. This example by Mother Jones shows how a photo combined with labeled graphics and audio narration can help learners virtually tour a prison cell.

Life in the Hole: Inside a Solitary Cell

Tabbed Navigation

Tabs are another way to highlight key areas of a location by using image-based thumbnails. Each tab can represent a different area and include different types of multimedia.

View A New Tower for The Times

3D Virtual World Tours

Virtual tours can be immersive experiences like those in Second Life and other virtual worlds. These are complex to produce and often difficult to navigate. Thankfully, we don’t need anything this complex to create engaging virtual tours!

View Elearning Guild Annual Gathering 2008

Challenge of the Week

This week, your challenge is to design a virtual tour of a real or fictional location. You can use any photos, illustrations, audio, and video you like to create your tour.

Examples wanted!

If you have some examples of virtual tours that you really like, please share them in the comments below.


You can use Articulate Storyline, Articulate Studio, or PowerPoint to build your interactive virtual tour.

Last Week’s Interactive Org Chart Challenge

Before you go on tour this week, take a look at the virtual introductions your fellow community members shared in last week’s challenge.

More About the E-Learning Challenges:

The weekly challenges are ongoing opportunities to learn, share, and build your e-learning portfolios. You can jump into any or all of the previous challenges anytime you want. We’ll feature your work and provide feedback if you request it.

Wishing you an tour-iffic week, E-Learning Heroes!

Even if you’re using a trial version of Studio ’13 or Storyline, you can absolutely publish your challenge files. Just sign up for a fully functional, free 30-day trial, and have at it. And remember to post your questions and comments in the forums; we're here to help. If you share your work on Twitter, try using #ELHchallenge to help others track your projects.

David Glow
Jeff Kortenbosch
Jackie Van Nice
Tim Slade
Richard Watson

@Melissa: loved your submission this week. I had to say I prefer the Gene Wilder version more than the character played by Johnny Depp. :) @Tim: Sci Fi fan as well. I remember growing up watching some of the early Captain Kirk stuff. It's really interesting to see how they created some of the special effects (very low tech). A place near where I live here, created the needless syringe which was originally introduced on one of the early Star Trek shows by "Bones". @Matthew: I'm going fishing in a few weeks. I hope to catch a trout like the one I saw in your demo. Loved the drag and drop car and idea. I'm working on something similar that I will have up later in the week. It's a "travel" theme as well. @Jackie: I would be happy to take some of that work off your plate so that yo... Expand

Amy Iannucci

Wow, these are all so fun to look at and each one so different! Fantastic job by everyone! @Nicole - I love your design; very attractive. Paris is a neat city! @Tim - great graphics and sound effects - a lot of work obviously went into this. I'm a trekkie too :) @Melissa - very fun - I love the intro! @Matt - I spent 7 months in Sydney and never even got to see any of those Big Things, darnit! Thanks for the tour! @David - Very nice! My youngest stepdaughter would love this too! @Jackie - What a neat way to do a visual resume or even a scrapbook for yourself to keep track of all the jobs you've had and places you've been! I enjoyed following along your timeline and learning about your career. I've held quite a few jobs and traveled a lot too; I think it would be fun to ... Expand

Jackie Van Nice
Melissa Milloway
Jackie Van Nice
Tom Kuhlmann
Jackie Van Nice
Jeff Kortenbosch
Melissa Milloway