3D Virtual Field Trips as a Service (VFTaaS): Learning Design

Minocha, Shailey; Burden, David; Tilling, Steve; Argles, Thomas and Rock, James (2015). 3D Virtual Field Trips as a Service (VFTaaS): Learning Design. The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.


Virtual Field Trips as a Service (VFTaaS) involves using game-based technology to enable the creation of a library of three-dimensional (3D) Virtual Field Trips (VFTs) (and other fieldwork experiences) covering multiple sites in the UK and abroad (and even off planet, such as a trip to Mars). In addition to providing access to the library, VFTaaS focuses on the pedagogical and commercial considerations to enable institutions to contribute new artefacts to the library, such as 3D locations (e.g. part of Snowdonia), or 3D simulations (e.g. model of a brain), or processes (e.g. high tides), or activities (e.g. ‘sample virtual transects to gather data on species of heather’), and contribute new learning experiences (e.g. customised lesson plans) to existing materials in the library.

Towards the research objectives, we investigated the following:

• pedagogical underpinnings of 3D virtual environments and 3D VFTs in disciplines such as geology, biology, environmental science/studies and geography which are founded on field observations, exploration and enquiry.
• potential of integrating VFTs within the curricula in schools and in HEIs.
• perceptions of educators, students and assessment bodies towards 3D VFTs, and virtual fieldwork, in general; we used the Virtual Skiddaw App in workshops and presentations to illustrate the concept of a 3D VFT.
• views of stakeholders towards VFTaaS and elicited the advantages, challenges with adopting VFTaaS, and their requirements for VFTaaS.

The empirical investigations have been user-centred – focussing on the stakeholders and particularly, the end-users such as educators, students and fieldwork specialists, and we have interacted with them via interviews, workshops, demonstrations and a survey to elicit their perceptions and requirements.

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