Virtual Field Trips

We develop technology-assisted field trips (virtual and augmented reality) using photospheres, 360 videos, and landscape photogrammetry. All field trips and instruction modules that we develop are free and open educational resources available through links on this website. Our goal is not to take students out of the field, rather it is to augment student’s experiences in the field and make inaccessible field locations more accessible.

What is a virtual field trip? Field trips play an important role in our discipline and in geographic education. However, the logistic and budgetary constraints of bringing students into the field can often undermine field trip planning or may lead to situations in which some students cannot participate. We can leverage recent technological advances in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to enhance students’ ability to learn new techniques and to virtually explore different places. For example, professors can introduce their research locations in inaccessible regions like the Arctic or among delicate coral reefs, students can stand on an urban downtown corner and time travel to see exactly what that corner looked like ten years before, and students can create new immersive content about their communities to document and share the changing geographies of our human lives.

Best Practices and Community of Practice

Despite the potential of this rapidly advancing technology, best practices for using VR and AR in education are only now being developed. Our project is playing a leading role in developing best practices and testing out different technologies for VR and AR field trips. We are open to collaborations with other institutions and industry partners. Academically, we are working on framing this work within the scholarship of teaching and learning. We propose a conceptual framework for understanding the use of VR and AR in education. This framework has four dimensions – interaction, accessibility of content creation, accessibility of content consumption, and flexibility for students. This is currently being developed as a working paper. If you would like a copy of the working paper, let us know.

A Conceptual Framework for developing VR an AR platforms for education.

Conceptual framework for developing VR an AR platforms for education.

An example of one of the 360 photospheres that Derek Turner built in Holobuilder. This is a high accessibility (creation and consumption), high flexibility, and lower interaction example of VR and AR content. The location is in Lion’s Bay, BC. You can move the angle by using your mouse and click on the interactive elements. You can also load this webpage in Google Cardboard and have a more immersive experience.

Research Updates

Most of the below work has been funded through a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund grant (TLEF UBC) and is partially supported through the Open Education Grant program from BCcampus. Our work involves collaborators from UBC Studios, other units at UBC, and institutions across British Columbia.

Our first early attempt in 2015 at using photospheres to design an immersive online field trip. This led us to create FieldPress, aWordPress-based platform for hosting 360 videos and photospheres while allowing student assessment more about that project can be found here.

Announcing FieldPress an OER plugin for WordPress

July 8, 2016

Today, we are excited to announce the beta release of a WordPress plugin that we have been developing for the last six months! FieldPress is a WordPress plugin that allows instructors to create and manage field trips online. This plugin provides instructors with a user-friendly environment to build field trips, add multimedia content, create assessments and manage students activity. FieldPress is an […]

Virtual and Augmented Reality Technology-Assisted Field Trips: Student-Based Approaches to Using New Technologies

April 19, 2016

In many academic fields, particularly geography, the experiential learning opportunities afforded by field trips have long been recognized as an important part of the curriculum (Orion, 1993; Scare, 1997). The hands-on experience students gain applying concepts and building new skills such as teamwork, decision-making and data collection and analysis are nearly impossible to replicate in […]