The advent of Google Street View has allowed language teachers to bring culture closer to students than ever before. Even more recently, though, businesses and institutions have slowly been allowing Google Street View access inside their locations, further bringing the idea of a virtual field trip to life.
What kinds of places can you go inside? The majority of them are restaurants, stores, and museums, but occasionally you can find a hotel, airport, mall or even a hospital that has inside street view access.
Finding these places is the tricky part. Google has a list by country of some of the major attractions that offer this, but this doesn't account for all the small businesses (stores, restaurants, hotels). To find those, you have to hunt a little. First, pick a big city in a target language-speaking country (availability will be great there). Then drag your little street view guy into the map. You'll see all the street view streets light up in blue (see above). But you'll also see blue dots and orange dots. The blue dots indicate user-made photo spheres. These can be handy in spots that don't have indoor street view access. The orange spots indicate spaces you can go inside and walk around in. Place your street view guy over one and check it out!
When I did my Google Maps scavenger hunt this year, I had students go inside some of the restaurants, such as this café in Montmartre. To read more about this activity, click here.
Above, a store in Belgium you can walk around inside.
If you want to find a museum or cultural landmark to explore inside, check Google Arts & Culture's list. Above, you can walk around the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. To learn more about how I use this feature in class, click here.
Have you used the "Go Inside" feature in your class? What did you do with it?