Thursday (3rd March) saw the first of the ‘Faculty Learning Enhancement Seminars’, hosted by ITS over in Clothworkers South. Lunch was provided allowing staff to network and discuss topics of interest with colleagues from across the faculty as well as see a presentation on some aspect of learning enhancement.
For this seminar, Jacque Houghton and Clare Gordon, both from SoEE presented work they have been developing over the past year around using computer games engines (Unity 5) to design a range of virtual field trips. This ‘Virtual Worlds’ field trip incorporates all the key elements and learning outcomes from the actual field trip, including a dead sheep! The students collect and record a range of data types from a virtual compass, GPS and field notebook, from which they draw up geological maps for area.
Initially, these virtual field trips were for students to rehearse a range of skill prior to an actual field trip. This eliminated most of the early mistakes needing instruction and practice that took up much of the first day. This extended the time available to hone critical skill by a whole day. When they were faced with a student unable to attend the field trip due to a medical condition the virtual field trip came to the rescue. A digital version of that field trip was created which along with sets of rock samples of the rock types encountered they were able to offer an equivalent learning experience where the student could practice the skills as the other students who were in the field.
This sort of learning resource has a wide range of uses from in class support/practice to accessibility and allowing students to visit sites that are either too hard or too dangerous to access. For example, a remote archeological site, a sunken wreck or reef, the inside of a working nuclear reactor or working on the ISS space station.
Jacki, Clare and colleagues are looking for people to work with to develop this further. They are hoping to be able to crowdsource all the relevant skills to be able to continue developing this fascinating project. If anyone is interested in getting involved then contact Jacque Houghton (J.Houghton@leeds.ac.uk)