Aalto Online Learning - Online Hybrid Lab

360° learning environment guide

360° environments are something that anyone can use in their educational practices to make learning alluring and engaging. This page gives you all the necessary fundamentals you need to get started with your 360° environment. We talk about software, hosting, and different purposes that 360° environments can be used for.
Moreover, you get a lot of practical tips on how to enrich your educational practices with 360° and improve the course engagement.

What is a 360° environment in practice?

A 360° learning environment consists of one or more 360° real-world pictures and/or videos, which serves as a background for your educational materials. With 360° software you can use photos of existing workshops, labs, street views and other environments that are important for your teaching. 

Your students can interact with information that is integrated in the 360° environment. Ideally, for the truly immersive experience, the key information is inherent in the environment itself. In addition you can add almost any kind of material, such as video, audio, games and different types of assignments.

Check out our paper about 360° learning environments linked below:

360 camera operated by Sofia Sevon and Taija Votkin_photo is taken by Valeria Azovskaya at Aalto campus in August 2022


In this paper we present a 360° production pipeline supporting educators.

We report the different elements and phases of the pipeline, resources needed and elements to consider such as funding, equipment and platforms. We further present two cases that have been our pilots for understanding what such a 360° production pipeline should include. We also outline the research and development agenda for the years to come as part of the Online Hybrid Lab activities and Unite! Virtual Campus, a task force of the European University alliance of nine partners.

How does a 360° environment add value to your teaching?

What is the point of 360° learning environments, and why should we use them in my teaching? With 360°, students can immerse themselves in an environment that is interesting to explore and vital for their field-specific studies. There are several occasions where 360° learning environment can be a handy solution:

  1. Students don’t have access to places that would be beneficial for them to visit. 
  2. You are looking for ways of enhancing the student experience by letting them immerse in a motivating atmosphere. 
  3. Students need to practice real-life situations in authentic settings.

Does it sound like something for you? Read more in the short articles below:

A group of people gathered at the metro construction site underground in Otaniemi

360° provides access

There are many situations when it is difficult or right out impossible to take students to a certain field-specific environment, such as a specific building, factory, or spot in nature. In this article we give you examples of how you with 360° can allow your students to explore these environments virtually.

Aalto Online Learning - Online Hybrid Lab
VR Hub Session

360° boosts students experience

In this short article we discuss the importance of students' experience and give you a few more reasons to include 360 environments in your teaching practice.

Aalto Online Learning - Online Hybrid Lab
Iittala Experimental Design Process

With 360°, students can practice real-life situations

360° learning environments have unique benefits that could help you to reach your teaching goals with spending less resources, especially if you think about scaling up your course.

Aalto Online Learning - Online Hybrid Lab

Practical considerations before implementing a 360° learning environment

There are some practical issues you need to consider before starting to build your first 360° learning environment. The short articles below gives you some tips about:

  • Funding and project planning
  • Software and hosting
  • How to acquire 360° images and videos
  • Sounds and audio design
  • Accessibility and copyright
  • Continuation and maintenance
360-camera operated by Sofia Sevon and Taija Votkin in the Learning centre, photo by Valeria Azovskaya 2022

How to acquire 360° pictures

When you start creating a 360° learning environment you will need 360° pictures. There are a few ways of acquiring 360° pictures: taking them yourself, having a professional take them for you and downloading them from a picture bank free of charge or for a fee.

Aalto Online Learning - Online Hybrid Lab
A construction site of the tram stop near Väre building in Otaniemi campus_photo by Mikko Raskinen, winter 2022.

Accessibility guidelines for 360° learning spaces in 3DVista

360° online learning environments that built in 3DVista might be challenging to access for people with some health conditions or impairments. These guidelines support authors in getting the best from the platform as of today.

Image of virtual tour view in ThingLink platform


ThingLink is an education technology platform that enables it to augment images, videos, and virtual tours with additional information and links. You can use ThingLink to create accessible, visual learning experiences in the cloud.


Explore 360 cases

Image from remote site: virtualtour.aalto.fi

Virtual Campus Experience (external link)

Explore Aalto University’s campus from anywhere in the world!

An image of virtual laboratory space

AALTOLAB Virtual Laboratories (external link)

AALTOLAB is a virtual laboratory platform developed at the Aalto University since 2018. AALTOLAB has been funded by the Aalto Online Learning (Online Hybrid Lab) programme.

Aalto University / Dipoli / photo: Markus Sommers

Dipoli 360° space tour (external link)

Explore Dipoli and its event and conference facilities through a 360° space tour. Move from room to room and look around at the iconic main building of Aalto University.

Image from remote site: www.thinglink.com

Learning Swedish in 360° environments (external link)

The use of 360° environments in language teaching is new and unexplored. We believe that it will bring increased value and motivation for our students.

Olarin Panimo entrance view, Otaniemi Espoo

Olarin Panimo study case for business students (external link)

Olarin Panimo study case for business students

Get in touch with our 360° educational environment experts:

 Taija Votkin

Taija Votkin

Specialist, Online Learning and 360° Learning Environments
 David Derichs

David Derichs

Project Lead, 360° and VR Content
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