Immersive technology brings historic Bethlehem to the classroom

headshot of David Longenbach

David Longenbach, instructor in history at Penn State Lehigh Valley, provided footage of historic Bethlehem for students using 360 degree technology.

Credit: Kate Morgan

Kate Morgan, director of virtual education, and David Longenbach, instructor in history, both at Penn State Lehigh Valley, were eager to provide students a different perspective on learning, featuring an omnidirectional approach using 360-degree recording software. The trending technological development allows full immersion that focuses on the visual aspect, where users can experience what was recorded by interacting within the program. 

“We use the Nikon Mission 360, which is a small waterproof camera that is able to capture 360 degrees of video with a single recording.” said Morgan. “There is a lot of opportunity to enhance learning and share experiences from places that people can’t normally get to.”

Longenbach, who teaches the course Pennsylvania History, takes his students on a variety of field trips in relation to lessons discussed in the course. For those who can not attend in person, he provides footage featuring the 360-degree technology, with a recorded lecture attached for reference. He said it provides a way for students to revisit the lessons and study for tests, or if the weather is not cooperating, a way that they can still experience the locations.

That field trip focused on historic Bethlehem, and discussed the significance of cultural practices and structures established in colonial times.

“Bethlehem was founded in 1741. The purpose of this lesson was to explain the importance of the American Revolution, different religious practices, and more.” said Longenbach.

In regards to any future plans to use the 360 technology in his lessons, he noted there is potential.

“I will be taking students to the Number Nine Coal Mine in Schuylkill County and there is a possibility they will allow us to film there as well."

“To be able to bring experiences directly to students who may have some sort of disability, or who are too claustrophobic to visit a coal mine, for example, makes the 360-degree technology a very valuable educational tool,” said Morgan.

There are already several 360 videos available to watch online, including some from a summer trip to Puerto Rico, a NASA Launch and others that will uploaded soon.

“Looking ahead, a few of our professors are reserving the camera to take them on the embedded study abroad trips during spring break, as well as many other opportunities that keep surfacing,” said Morgan.

To view Longenbach’s videos of historic Bethlehem, visit the Historic Bethlehem 360 YouTube page.


Dennille Schuler

Public Relations Specialist
Penn State Lehigh Valley

Work Phone