Pedagogical advantages of 3D virtual field trips and the challenges for their adoption

Minocha, Shailey; Tilling, Steve; Argles, Tom; Braithwaite, Nick; Burden, David and Rock, James (2015). Pedagogical advantages of 3D virtual field trips and the challenges for their adoption. In: Computers and Learning Research Group (CALRG) Conference 2015, 15-17 Jun 2015, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.


In a six-month long Innovate UK-funded project (November 2015 – April 2016), we investigated the feasibility of creating a sustainable national 3D ‘virtual field-trips’ (VFT) software service, to support and deliver field trip-based education through a virtual channel in schools and higher education institutions (HEIs). The idea of a 3D VFT service emerged from Virtual Skiddaw App, the 3D virtual geology fieldtrip, of The Open University’s (OU) Open Science Laboratory . In the feasibility project, we (at the OU) (co-investigator) along with Daden (project-lead) and Design Thinkers, UK (co-investigator) we looked into the technical, pedagogical, commercial and service design aspects of the 3D VFT service.

In this presentation, we focussed on the pedagogy strand of this feasibility project: pedagogical advantages of 3D VFTs, and the challenges for their adoption in schools and HEIs.

We discussed 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 the 3D VFT service: advantages, challenges and their requirements from this service. 

Our 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, service design workshops, demonstrations and a survey to elicit their perceptions and requirements.

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