3D Virtual Field Trips as a Service

For more information:

Fieldscapes - Immersive 3D Virtual Reality Field Trips for Schools, Colleges and Universities

Every year students and educators benefit from field trips, which give students skills and knowledge to meet learning objectives. Yet field trips are declining in number, scope and duration for financial, time and safety reasons. Fieldscapes aims to support, enrich and extend physical field-trips by enabling enabling educators and students to:

  • Recce a site, understand context, learn skills, and plan and practice tasks before they visit the site.
  • Use a VR headset to provide a virtual done during the visit, letting student understand context that they may not see on the ground.
  • Revisit the site virtually after the trip, to complete tasks, analyse data in context, make comparative trips, and to support revision.

The Fieldscapes Eco-System

Fieldscapes is a service and an eco-system, not just an application. The main components are:

  • Those with 3D skills can contribute locations and objects (called props) which by default are shared with the rest of the user community - but see below for other options.
  • Educators can, if they wish, use our 3D drag-and-drop editor to lay out an exercise and define how it will work using simple forms and dropdown menus. They can start from scratch or clone and customise other people's lessons. Again by default everything is shared with the community. They can then allocate exercises to students as assignments.
  • When a student logs on they see their assignments and complete the exercises. They can use a range of devices to access the exercises, from smartphone and tablets to laptops and desktop computers. They can also use a VR headset if they have access to one - but that is by no means mandatory. The educator can also specify whether the exercise is experienced in single-user mode, or in a hybrid, collaborative, multi-user mode.
  • Student exercise completions and scores are shown in the web-based lesson manager, and can be exported to CSV/Excel, or to your VLE/LMS through the Tin-Can xAPI interface.

The aim is to try and create a sharing community, where exercises and locations are shared not just between schools but between countries and continents - significantly enhancing the opportunity to experience different environments and engage in high level thinking.

Locations vs Pedagogy

A key aim with Fieldscapes is to separate out the technically difficult task of creating a 3D location model from the intellectually challenging task of creating a good immersive learning exercise with good pedagogy.

  • Locations and objects do need 3D skills to create, and any standard method can be used as long as it ends up as a Unity Asset Bundle. Whilst we don't expect many teachers to have these skills there are a lot of students in college and university (and even Schools) who are doing 3D design or game design who could help out. It actually makes an ideal inter-disciplinary project. We reckon it takes 1-10 days of effort to build a location, depending on the detail you want. We'll also run regular surveys to find out which locations you'd most like us to create, and we'll provide a good set of representative and generic locations for a wide variety of lessons at launch.
  • Exercises are authored using a WYSIWYG drag and drop tool inside the 3D world. Once you have a prop in place you use a set of windows and drop-downs to define how the exercise responds to user actions - for instance displaying an image when clicked, playing an audio recording when they enter a particular area, or popping up a multiple-choice question. There are even special functions to let students pick objects up to examine them in more detail, to measure distance and slope, to measure river flow or pH, and we'll be adding more all the time. And of course you don't have to start from scratch, you can clone an existing lesson and just tweak it to your needs.

Just watch some of our video tutorials or read the Wiki to see how easy simple exercise creation can be.

3D vs VR

Fieldscapes is quite unashamedly 3D first and VR second. Being pragmatic we are still a long way from every student having a VR headset (even a £10 Cardboard), and anyway there are a lot of uses cases where VR struggles (reading lots of text, using it on the bus or in front of the TV etc). But a VR tour of a site when you are actually on-site becomes a powerful experience - it's like having your own personal drone. So by default all Fieldscapes exercises should work both on normal 2D screens (in the same way that "3D" games work), and with VR headsets.

Business Models

Fieldscapes for education is intended to be licensed on a per-student basis - it will be free for educators to go in and create their own lessons. The licence gives you access to all default shared content on the system. Beyond at there are several other models we are looking at:

  • A reward pot, so that the creators of the most used locations and exercises get some form of reward - in service credits or hard cash
  • Premium content, so if you've invested a lot of effort and IP in an exercise or location you can set a price and get some direct reward for it - think of the App Store model
  • A white-label version, so organisations can run their own instance of Fieldscapes, with their own branding and content, and be in complete control of their own user base
  • A public-outreach version, designed for outreach programmes where "assignments" and "exercises" are just replaced by "experiences", so that heritage and other organisations can easily make 3D and VR experiences available on a shared platform
  • A "consumer" version, where anyone can create and share their own 3D and VR exercises

We are also looking at whether we should establish our exercise definition format (called PIVOTE) as an open standard, and encourage other people to make players and editors for it.

These are early days with our business model planning and we'd love to hear your thoughts about what would work best for you.

Fieldscapes: Apollo Educate (work in progress) from DadenMedia on Vimeo. Watch other Fieldscapes preview videos on our Fieldscapes channel on Vimeo.

Beyond Field-Trips

Fieldscapes is not only about Geography, Geology or Biology field-trips. The system is generic enough that it could be used for a wide variety of education, information and training experiences in school, college, university, and in the work-place. In schools we are already talking to educators about using it for STEM, for History and even for Languages. Our business for the past 10 years has been about creating 3D eLearning experiences for occupations such nursing, lab work, health & safety, psychology, paramedics and disaster managers - all of which could be done with Fieldscapes. So, as they say, the only limit to the use of Fieldscapes is your imagination.

Getting Involved

If you would like to know more about the Fieldscapes, join the beta, be kept informed of developments, or be interested in having an early demo then we’d be delighted to have a conversation about how best to work with your organisation. You can:

Note that we see Fieldscapes as a global service, so we're more than happy to talk over Skype or provide remote demos to educational institutions outside of the UK.

The Fieldscapes Project Team

The initial Fieldscapes project was funded by Innovate UK – the UK Government's innovation agency, lead by Daden (project lead), and made possibly by the involvement of our project partners from The Open University, DesignThinkers Group UK, and the Field Studies Council.

Download the flyer!

A 2 page summary of Fieldscapes is available as a PDF - just click on the title next to the download icon at left to get a copy.