Role of smartphone-driven virtual reality field trips in inquiry-based learning

Parkinson, Alan; Kitchen, Rebecca; Tudor, Ana-Despina; Minocha, Shailey and Tilling, Steve (2017). Role of smartphone-driven virtual reality field trips in inquiry-based learning. In: Geographical Association Annual Conference 2017, 20-22 Apr 2017, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.



A Google Expedition (GE) is a Virtual Reality approach comprising of 360 degree photospheres of a location (e.g. a museum, or a city like Rio de Janeiro, an active volcano) along with the description of location, points of interest and suggested questions for discussion. Using a Tablet and via the GEs App, a teacher can guide students. Students experience the GE through the smartphones embedded within the VR viewers called Google cardboard.

Our research project’s objective is examine the potential role of Virtual Reality (VR) in science and geography in schools. In this research paper, we will discuss the results of our empirical investigations for one of the research questions: whether VR-based guided field trips via GEs can support self-directed inquiry-based learning (IBL).

Our investigations on IBL have involved: conducting Geography lessons using one or more GEs at KS3 and KS4 stages; analysis of the lesson-observations; and assessment of the nature of questions that are generated by the students during these lessons. The teachers reported that the students generate more questions (than usual) in lessons that involve GEs/VR. Also, the questions are high-order and have one of more of the following features: are analytical, enquire about impact, or are evaluative.

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