Session: Network Connections: Deepening and Expanding Access to Virtual Field Experiences
Virtual field tripping around volcanoes...what works?
Thursday, August 5, 2021
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Ben Kennedy, Jonathan Davidson and Alex Watson, School of Earth and Environment, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, Alison Jolley, Centre for Tertiary Teaching and Learning, University of Waikato, Waikato, BC, New Zealand, Erik Brogt, Future learning and development, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
School of Earth and Environment, University of Canterbury Christchurch, New Zealand
Background/Question/Methods: For over 10 years, the geoscience education research group at the University of Canterbury has been creating virtual field trips. We have trialed virtual materials that have included fully immersive virtual worlds, 360 videos, bicultural field experiences, and a virtual fieldtrip MOOC. We have used virtual field trips to a) take students to places they would otherwise not be able to go (including to promote equity and access to fieldtrips for students who for whatever reason cannot attend in-person fieldtrips); b) to familiarize students with material before going into the field in order to maximize learning, optimize the valuable time in the field, and/or to try and explain concepts that are difficult to explain in the field; c) and enhance the field experience with digital tools. Our research results from student interviews, focus groups and measures of learning show that students enjoy and engage well with the digital content, although we are still far from the in-person field experience. Results/Conclusions: In this talk we focus on some general recommendations, developed from literature review, 10 years of instructor experience, and student feedback. These recommendations include: (1) Decide what the learning goals of the virtual field trip are in advance, as this will help guide your choice of digital content. (2) Keep technology simple as possible, and make sure you, your students, and your team are confident with the technology. Only add ‘techy’ with learning goals and adds value. (3) Having the course instructor fully integrated with the course design, implementation, and featured in videos, preserves continuity and allows for a good connection to both the people and place. (4) Mutually beneficial relationships with an experienced, multi-disciplinary and invested team can greatly lessen workload and provide longevity to the project. (5)therefore try to provide opportunities for students to learn transferable social skills, develop identities as geoscientists, have fun, explore and connect with peers, course instructor, and a new landscape. We continue to strive to include these elements in our virtual fieldtrips. Looking to the future, we hope to make use of technology that enhances active learning, such as artificial intelligence generated nudges to facilitate interactive engagement with video watching and notetaking. Using these methods, we aim to improve knowledge retention and conceptual understanding development in a virtual field environment.