The move to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has forced higher education institutions and schools to find new and innovative ways to teach their students. Using virtual field trips has increasingly become a pedagogical strategy for connecting students to important educational experiences.
According to Granshaw & Duggan-Haas (2012), a Virtual Fieldwork Experience (VFE) is an enquiry-based teaching tool that allows a field site to be brought into the classroom. The VFE originates from Geography and Earth Sciences education,. It’s purpose is to simulate the experiences of doing research outside of a class or laboratory so that skills can be developed and knowledge gained.
VFEs can offer opportunities to explore sites that are not practical to travel to in person. They are useful as they allow immersive experiential learning opportunities to be undertaken so that students can practice and develop their skills in simulated situations and circumstances. This makes the fieldwork more accessible, inclusive and equitable. Fragile environments that may be under pressure from visitors can be visited without concerns over conservation and sustainability.
technology allows students to travel and experience the world in time and space
A range of interactive digital learning tools, like drones, virtual reality headsets and the use of remote sensors, can be offered during Virtual Fieldwork Experiences to provide opportunities for students to develop their fieldwork skills. There may also be some situations in which specific fieldwork locations cannot be visited or when field visits take place at all.
The VGlobal project will explore and promote the use of virtual fieldwork experiences in higher education institutions and encourage teachers and lecturers to develop their own VFEs for their students.
Find out more about the aims and objectives of the VGlobal Project
Reference: Granshaw, F.D. and Duggan-Haas, D., 2012. Virtual fieldwork in geoscience teacher education: Issues, techniques, and models. Geological Society of America Special Papers, 492, pp.285-303.