The Whys and Hows of Implementing Virtual and Augmented Reality in Earth Science Classrooms

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 8-11am PT / 9am-12pm MT / 10am-1pm CT / 11am-2pm ET Online


Stephen Moysey, East Carolina University
Ben Maas, Metropolitan State University
Kelly Lazar, Clemson University
Alexander Klippel, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
Natalie Bursztyn, The University of Montana-Missoula

Click here for the Participant Workspace (Login Required)

Check out SERC's Teaching with Augmented and Virtual Reality page and join the community!

Regardless of whether they are in a classroom or online, do you want to take your students on a field trip, help them to visualize spatial relationships, learn how to use the tools of the trade, or relate today's geologic formations to past depositional environments? Virtual and augmented reality are becoming increasingly accessible for everyday use in the teaching with a wide range of access points. This workshop will discuss the pedagogy, tools, content examples, and assessment strategies for using these technologies to help increase accessibility and learning outcomes for a wide range of learners. From high-end interactive VR to student-built experiences created using smartphones, there are a wide range of tools and approaches that can be used to bring the world outside of the classroom to your students. The majority of the session will be dedicated to time for participants to work through ideas with other session participants, with guidance, to develop an activity that they can implement in their own classroom. Participants should bring a laptop and a tablet or smartphone to work on in order to access the online materials and produce an activity.

All workshops will take place online, via Zoom (unless otherwise noted). Participants will be sent links to the Zoom room and connection info will be posted below prior to the session start.

Session Connection Info

This workshop has already taken place.

Overview of Workshop

Participants in this three day workshop should have access to a computer and/or tablet/smartphone that can access the internet . The majority of the time during this workshop will be dedicated to allowing participants to develop and work on an augmented reality or virtual reality, AR/VR, lecture activity, homework assignment, laboratory activity, or similar activity that they can then bring back to their institution. There are a wide range of opportunities for integrating AR/VR into your courses for different levels of interest in expertise. For example, this could mean creating your own AR/VR experience to share with students, developing an assignment where students build an AR/VR experience themselves, or utilizing existing software (like Google Earth VR) to create an AR/VR powered lesson or assignment. In other words, there are options for a wide range of skill sets and interests that we will explore!

The co-conveners will discuss examples of how AR/VR is being used in education as well as the pedagogy, current technologies, and common modalities (e.g., 360-degree imagery, three-dimensional worlds, mobile applications, and tangibles like the AR sandbox) that are being used in different types of learning settings. The objective of this discussion is to familiarize participants with some of the current opportunities that AR/VR offers as a teaching and educational tool. Integrated with the discussion will be time for the participants to work as individuals or groups with similar goals to develop a plan and product for an AR/VR activity.


This workshop is designed for participants looking to utilize any level of AR/VR in their classroom. Whether that is how to use their new AR/VR sandbox or learn to make AR/VR applications with 360-degree imagery or 3D worlds, this workshop will provide an entry point for a wide range of participant interests and skill levels.

Workshop Goals

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Improve their knowledge of the capabilities, technologies, and diverse uses of AR/VR in education
  • Develop, or start to develop, an activity that they can then bring back to their own classroom
  • Connect with like other participants interested in utilizing AR/VR so as to build a network


The format of the workshop will be as follows:

  • Prior to the workshop: Reflect on how you might use AR or VR in your class (e.g., to take a field trip, examine 3D models, learn a specific skill, etc). Produce one specific idea for an experience that you would want to do with your students. You will build on this idea as you move through the workshop (note that this idea should help direct your choice of Track to participate in on Day 2).
  • Day 1 (all times are Eastern Standard Time) Day 1 notes page (limited access)
    • 11:00 - 12:00 - The Hows and Whys of AR/VR: Introduction and overview to what is available and why it is relevant in geoscience education
    • 12:00 - 12:30 - Virtual demos/trials of AR/VR experiences (Yes, you can do this from home!)
    • 12:30 - 1:00 - Independent reflection and refinement of the participant's activity plan
    • 1:00-1:15 - Break
    • 1:15 - 1:45 - Small group presentations and discussion of activity plans
    • 1:45 - 2:00 - Wrap up, plan for Day 2 and complete Road Check for Day 1 of EER morning workshop
  • Day 2 Day 2 notes page (limited access)
    • 11:00 - 11:15 - Welcome and overview of the day
    • 11:15 - 1:45 - Breakout workshops (each is 2.5 hours, which includes time to work)
      • Track 1 Developing a lesson plan using existing VR/AR tools
      • Track 2 Creating your own field experiences with 360-degree imagery (ThingLink + Premiere Pro)
        • Participants will develop an interactive 360 experience that they can use in their own course. The workshops will be hands-on with Adobe and ThingLink, so you will learn some of the tricks in making a great experience with 360 images and video.
        • Track 2 notes page (limited access)
      • Track 3 Defining immersive virtual worlds to support field experiences
    • 1:45 - wrap up, plan for Day 3, and Road Check for Day 2 of EER morning workshop
  • Day 3Day 3 notes page (limited access)
    • 11:00 - 11:30 – Lessons learned and review of project concepts/progress
    • 11:30 - 12:00 – Assessment strategies
    • 12:00 - 1:00 – Work time: integrating assessment into projects/presentation preparation
    • 1:00 - 1:30 - Participant Presentations
    • 1:30 - 1:50 – Next steps for VR/AR in geoscience education
    • 1:50 - 2:00 - Wrap Up and Workshop Evaluations


Technology Requirements: The conveners will discuss an array of technologies for experiencing and creating AR/VR experiences, ranging from Google Cardboard to the HTC Vive and Oculus Quest headsets and Google StreetView smartphone app to commercial 360-degree cameras for content capture. Participants will have opportunities to test and explore content from home - particularly for experiences that can be experienced via a computer or smartphone. It is expected that workshop participants will need a laptop and/or tablet for most AR/VR development activities and a smartphone for experiencing VR experiences during the workshop. It is not expected that participants will have access to specialized VR equipment (such as an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive) at home, but some content will also be available specifically for these types of systems (e.g., Google Earth VR). Depending on the specific breakout group that a participant wishes to join, additional technology or software requirements may apply, but extra costs to participants are not expected (registered participants will be notified of software installation or other needs closer to the workshop).

Participant Workspace: Workshop participants have access to the private Participant Workspace. We will be keeping notes from the workshop on pages within this workspace.

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