Transforming Earth Science Education Through Immersive Experiences: Delivering on a Long Held Promise

Alexander Klippel, Jiayan Zhao, Kathy Lou Jackson, Peter La Femina, Chris Stubbs, Ryan Wetzel, Jordan Blair, Jan Oliver Wallgrün, Danielle Oprean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


The value of field trips is undisputed across disciplines. Field-site visits whether in social or physical sciences provide grounding for place- and discovery-based learning. Yet field trips have limitations that can now be overcome by the promise of immersive technologies that can improve quality and accessibility. This promise is twofold: First, we can harness advancements made in sensing technologies to create immersive experiences of places across the earth efficiently; second, we can provide detailed empirical evaluations on immersive learning and quantify educational value. We report on a study that splits an introductory geosciences course into two groups with one group experiencing a traditional field trip, while a second group visits the same site virtually, immersing the students in the site using a head-mounted device. Results show the advantages of virtual field trips (VFTs) concerning enjoyment, learning experience, and actual lab scores. We embed the discussion of these results into a more general assessment of the advantages of VFTs and a taxonomy of VFTs as a basis for future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1745-1771
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Educational Computing Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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