Learning about Ontario's Paleozoic Geology with Virtual Reality Google Expedition Tours
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How well can you interpret or place into context the different geological features or rock types that are exposed along roadways, rivers, coastlines or construction sites? Here in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Waterloo, we recognize a gap between learning foundational geoscience knowledge (i.e. in traditional classrooms and lab settings) and applying this knowledge during field experiences. To bridge this gap and better prepare students for field experiences we suggest using virtual reality. The Google Expedition Kit funded by the Dean of Science Undergraduate Teaching Initiative was chosen as the best entry level system because it is cost-effective, self-contained, already tested and versatile for teaching up to 20 people. Here we present the perceived advantages and disadvantages of this system to provide immersive learning experiences for improved understanding of Ontario’s Paleozoic geology. Initial use of this VR Kit has shown it can be used successfully to investigate Paleozoic rock outcrops across Ontario by using existing and student-created Tours, as well as self-guided and leader-guided Tours. There was increased motivation and engagement among students, improved familiarization and connections among a variety of outcrops in space and time. And there was also enhanced meaning and context for the many Paleozoic rock layers in Ontario, and an increased number of insightful questions. Although field experiences will always play a vital role in university geoscience education, virtual reality can help in improving understanding and compliment field experiences through its uniquely immersive capabilities. We suggest this would also be effective in professional geoscience practice and everyday life.
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Henry Visneskie, Jen Parks, John Johnston (2020). Learning about Ontario's Paleozoic Geology with Virtual Reality Google Expedition Tours. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/15693