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.