Mobile virtual reality for environmental education

Tudor, Ana-Despina; Minocha, Shailey; Collins, Melanie and Tilling, Steve (2018). Mobile virtual reality for environmental education. Journal of Virtual Studies, 9(2) pp. 25–36.



We report students’ experiences of using a mobile virtual reality application to learn about the environmental impact of large scale developments on nature reserves, by comparing the physical field trip location to a location in virtual reality, which they accessed while in the field on a geography field trip. We present our research with 64 secondary school students who used Google Expeditions, a smartphone-based virtual reality application, on a geography field trip to their local nature reserve in south-east England. Google Expeditions (GEs) consists of over 700 expeditions or guided field trips that students experience on a smartphone through a virtual reality viewer. An expedition comprises of 360-degree photospheres of locations like the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, the Grand Canyon, Antarctica and Iceland. Through the use of virtual reality in the field and the affordances of the GE app, students became aware of the issues created by large-scale development on the environment, acquired knowledge about its implication for the ecosystem, and suggested actions for protection of the environment. Following the field trip, students sent letters to the Chiltern Society (a voluntary organization dedicated to conserving of Chilterns’ landscape in the UK) that discussed the implications of large scale development plans close to their local nature reserve in the Chilterns.

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