Student-Staff Co-Creation of Virtual Environments for Simulated Field Trips

Researcher: Dr David Trudgeon

Institution: University of Exeter

Research Year: 2021

Project aims:

The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly limited prospects for students to partake in physical site visits and field trips that have previously been integral to many Higher Education courses. This has highlighted pre-existing areas of inequality in the ability to benefit from site visits in person and afforded the opportunity to develop immersive virtual environments as a viable alternative. Such resources promise to provide long-term value beyond Covid-19, enhancing equality and inclusivity by ensuring that those unable to participate in physical field trips can benefit from the experience.

This project aims to investigate and assess a collaborative approach between staff and students in developing virtual field trip environments. An interactive map of renewable energy installations across Devon and Cornwall including free roaming three-dimensional environments for selected sites is to be used as an example, but the approach is expected to be of merit in other disciplines and subject areas. Students will be encouraged to research renewable energy installations close to their location and visit sites individually or in Covid-secure groups, providing videos, images, interviews with site operators and other resources for incorporation into the virtual environment.

Through student collaboration and consultation, guidelines and best practices for the development of similar tools are to be identified and communicated. The final product will be made available to the wider community as an educational tool through MOOC’s or public domain websites, with the aim of engaging external partners including Devon and Cornwall Councils, local primary, secondary and further education institutions and renewable energy companies.