Selected technical tools approaches for real and virtual fieldwork

Tuesday 3:30pm-3:50pm Ritchie Hall: 366


Don Haas, Paleontological Research Institution
Tim White, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
Lisa White, University of California-Berkeley


We will provide a brief look at VFEs created in our programming and focus on selected tools including the following apps:
- Google Street View (for creating 360° panoramas that can be linked together)
- TRNIO for creating 3D models of samples or outcrops
- TouchTerrain for creating 3D printable models of landscapes

We will also explore the Kettleman Hills and Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory VFEs.


Participants will play with a number of technical tools (primarily free or inexpensive smartphone and tablet apps) for accessing information about field sites and for documenting characteristics of those sites in the service of Virtual Fieldwork Experience (VFE) development. They will create media including 360° panoramas, 3D specimen and landscape models. Example printed 3D models of landscapes will be shared. Differences in pedagogical approaches in using verses making VFEs, and in different types of VFEs. This will include attention to advantages and disadvantages found in leaving resources "scruffy."


Our primary use has been in teacher professional development and in the development of curriculum materials. Programming has targeted educators working from the upper elementary grades to the graduate level, and has included informal educators. Our participants have used the tools and approaches across all of these settings. A relatively small but growing number of participants have actually engaged their students in VFE production. The modal program participant uses VFEs or VFE components created during the PD program and creates media capturing some aspects of their local environment.

Why It Works

The approach of engaging students in the production of virtual fieldwork directly addresses the problem of technology increasingly keeping learners inside. It flips the problem on its head - using technology to draw learners outside to capture aspects of their environment that can then be used to educate others.