Enhancing ecological fieldwork with Virtual Reality

Tilling, Steve; Wheeler, Philip; Burden, David and Argles, Thomas (2016). Enhancing ecological fieldwork with Virtual Reality. In: British Ecological Society Annual Meeting 2016, 11-14 Dec 2016, Liverpool, UK.

Abstract

Virtual Reality (VR) has recently hit the mainstream with investment and promotion by several major developers, advances in development platforms, and the introduction of affordable tools such as Google Cardboard. Mainstream VR presents a great opportunity for ecologist educators to enhance fieldwork for their students: immersive technology can add context and substance to pre-field preparation, in-field activities and post-field reflection. This workshop will introduce a range of tools which non-specialists can use to support and enhance ecological fieldwork from 3D image viewers to systems for designing field trips in VR landscapes. Participants will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with computer, phone and tablet-based VR tools. The workshop will also include an open discussion on the opportunities and challenges in the use of VR in ecological field education. Participants should leave with an appreciation of current use of VR and related tools in ecological field teaching, practical experience of new tools and an understanding of how VR can support and enhance physical fieldwork for ecologists.

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