GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 301-2
Presentation Time: 1:55 PM


WEILAND, Lelia, School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada, LEE, Rebecca E., School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, 1280 Main St. West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8, Canada and EYLES, Carolyn H., School of Geography & Earth Sciences, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada

As communication technology has changed, interactive virtual field experiences (VFEs) that can be used by students, and more widely by the public, have emerged. There are many advantages to using VFEs in the classroom, including enhancing the accessibility of field data to all students; providing access to a wide range of field sites, some of which may be impractical to visit with student groups; and providing a low-cost and time efficient field experience for a diverse range of students. VFEs can also enhance the learning experience of participants as they allow exploration of field sites in a familiar and comfortable environment without time constraints. VFEs are not restricted to remote sites of particular geological interest but can be created for local sites in urban settings that may be of interest to a more diverse audience of students from multiple disciplines and backgrounds. VFEs also provide accessible data for a range of undergraduate research projects and can be used for community outreach initiatives.

This presentation focuses on the development of a virtual field experience in the City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The VFE is based on actual fieldtrips conducted for freshman and interdisciplinary science courses at McMaster University and was created by an undergraduate student. The VFE incorporates an interactive user interface which allows students to explore a series of field sites in their own time and is intended to increase students’ understanding of the geology of the region. As an alternative to a standard slideshow or field book, an immersive experience has been created, using models, images, and videos of the field sites. Three geological sites of interest were chosen in the Hamilton urban area, located (from west to east) at Tiffany Falls, Albion Falls, and the Devil’s Punchbowl. Unmanned aerial vehicles were used to collect imagery at each site and the images are used to create detailed 3D models and ‘fly-through’ videos. This VFE will be available to undergraduate students at McMaster University in the Fall of 2019 and surveys will be conducted to evaluate the student’s learning experience. The VFE will also be made available to the public on the university and GeoscienceInfo websites.