With school children shut off from the outside world, one local librarian is bringing the world to them.
Amanda Jones, librarian at Live Oak Middle, has planned a series of virtual reality “field trips” across the globe for children and families who are confined to their homes due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has reached 347 confirmed cases in 17 Louisiana parishes as of Thursday morning.
The “Journey with Jones” field trips are viewed via a live stream on the “LOM Library” Facebook page. The videos stay posted on the Facebook page, meaning they can be viewed even after the live tour is complete.
And anyone can tune in.
On Tuesday, Jones took close to 100 students and their families through a 40-minute tour of the Palace of Versailles, where they were shown much of the famous landmark’s 87,000-plus square foot property.
During the tour, Jones — who appeared in the top right corner of the screen wearing a beret in front of an Eiffel Tower backdrop — mixed together maps, historical facts, still images, and virtual reality panoramic views that showed everything “from the ceilings to the floors.” She also included links to all the information and slides in case students wanted to check them out again later.
To keep it interactive, Jones fielded questions that were posted on the live stream.
“It’s just something to interest the kids and give them something fun to do as a family during the social distancing while they’re stuck at home,” Jones said.
Though it was something she wanted to do for students — who won’t return to school until April 13 at the earliest following Gov. John Bel Edwards’ statewide closure of all K-12 public schools — Jones said many parents participated with their children, turning the “field trip” into “a family outing.”
There were also viewers from Baton Rouge and Rapides Parish, where the local library system provided a live feed to Jones’ field trip.
“It’s funny, because.. I can see the kids as they’re watching and several seemed to [have] popcorn like it was a movie and a lot kept waving at me,” she said.
Jones has a series of other virtual reality trips in Europe planned through the rest of March, with all live streams set to begin at 5 p.m. Upcoming trips include a visit to London, England (Friday, March 20); Venice and Rome, Italy (Monday, March 23); Madrid, Spain (Wednesday, March 25); Munich, Germany (Friday, March 27); and Amsterdam, Holland (Monday, March 30).
After that, Jones hopes to tour Japan and later Australia and Africa.