The 2016 NMC Horizon Report described Virtual Reality in Higher Education as “…[providing] contextual learning experiences that foster exploration of real world data in virtual surroundings”. Interest in, and use of, virtual and augmented reality is on the rise. Both technologies are making great leaps forwards in hardware and software. So it is timely to consider the benefits of including these in the student experience, and how to embed innovative technology across the institution.
Virtual at Southampton
There are many exciting and, in some cases, unique fieldwork experiences available to students at our university. Fieldwork is expensive; but there are opportunities to maximise formative opportunities, preparing students and consolidating their learning. Staff and field leaders have, at local levels, created a variety of online materials to support their students. A range of tools have been used to do so, including external (and sometimes unsupported) technologies such as Cloudtours, ArcGIS, and Panotours. In Digital Learning we have been experimenting with Thinglink and Articulate Storyline as other means for developing interactive 360 images and video.
The working group
In the next few weeks Digital Learning will be forming a Virtual Fieldtrip working group (co-ordinated by Sarah Fielding) which includes staff from multiple faculties and Professional Services.
We would like to bring together anyone who has already created materials, as well as staff who have no online resources to support their fieldwork. The aims of the group will be to evaluate the range of tools available, make some recommendations for an optimal tool, and possibly move towards a university-supported solution. In addition, the group will develop a set of good design principles (based on current practice) for developing new virtual trips. Going forwards, Digital Learning can help to creating new resources for new and existing fieldwork.
If you have an interest in Augmented Reality, immersive Virtual Reality, or interactive browser-based tours, and would like to contribute to the group, then please get in touch.