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HEN: Virtual Worlds in GEES Teaching - Games or Reality?

14 June 2016
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Event type:
Workshop, Conference
Organised by:
Higher Education Network
Leeds University
Event status:

As virtual worlds become more sophisticated, versatile and easier to create, so the potential for their use in a range of disciplines increases. They are already being used as training grounds for geological mapping, multi-user field trips and to build 3D visualisation skills.  They offer the prospect of increasing accessibility to GEES fieldwork for those with mobility/health issues and have the potential to be used, not just in higher education, but in schools and in public engagement with GEES subjects.  

This workshop was aimed at anyone interested in developing, adapting or using virtual worlds in GEES education. We aimed to build a strong community of educators at all levels who support virtual worlds; to share our knowledge and pool our resources.  We also explored the potential for forming partnerships to pursue funding opportunities for developing content, learning materials, delivery platforms and hosting infrastructure. Exploration of ideas around virtual reality and blends of other technologies was also on the agenda.  

Disclaimer: This was not about replacing fieldwork in the curriculum, but how virtual worlds can introduce, support, enhance, extend, revise and promote the whole field experience.  

The workshop included time in the School of Earth and Environment’s Visualisation Lab to explore the different virtual worlds already being used in the geosciences.


9.00: Registrations

9.50-10.00: Welcome and introduction
Tom Argles, Jacqui Houghton

10.00-10.20: Virtual worlds for geological mapping
Jacqui Houghton, Annabeth Robinson, Geoff Lloyd (Leeds University)

10.20-10.40: Fieldscapes: creating and hosting virtual worlds
David Burden, Steve Tilling, Tom Argles (Daden Ltd with FSC, OU)

10.40-11.00: The role of virtual reality in GEES teaching
Shailey Minocha, Steve Tilling (Open University/ Field Studies Council)

11.00-11.20: Coffee

Hands-on experience:

11.20-12.50: A chance to try the virtual worlds and authoring tools out for yourself:

1. Virtual landscapes for geological mapping training (Leeds)

2. Fieldscapes VR: Cardingmill Valley (Daden Ltd)

3. Forensic geoscience CSI (Keele)

4. Google Expeditions – Virtual Reality (OU/FSC/Google)

12.50-13.30: Lunch


13.30-14.10: Ideas for future content: landscapes and learning materials

14:10-14:50: How should we deliver/host virtual worlds for teaching?

14.50-15.30: Potential users, stakeholders, funders

15.30-15.50: Tea

15:50–16:15: Plenary and closing discussion
Tom Argles, Jacqui Houghton


Jacqui Houghton (Leeds University)

Tom Argles (Open University)

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