Using Virtual Reality in chemistry education could be so beneficial. In practical fields such as chemistry, some kinds of activities including environmental teaching are commonly used by instructors.
Although field trip can be a great help in learning, it has several limitations. Planning and performing environmental trips might cause different challenges for the instruction team as well as the students. The planning and executing of real field trips demands human and material resources and is not possible for overseas purposes. For overcoming these kinds of restrictions, high-tech methods like virtual reality (VR) devices sounds the best solution.
In one study being published in ‘Journal of chemical education, the result of a web-based VR field trip was reported. This team documented the use of VR field trip with the use of the individual VR gear for their exploration to a real site where the 360˚ photos are captured by the instructors.
Overview on VR field trip performed in the study
In the aforementioned study, they reported a web-based VR online platform (edu2VR) to simulate a field trip to an overseas site for a group of approximately 90 third- and fourth-year undergraduate students. The study was taken place at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The course comprised twice-weekly 2-hours lectures, and a 1-hour tutorial class.
In this study, eduVR3 helped the instructors’ teaching by providing students with access to photospheres of a rural region, Ungaran, in Indonesia. A set of photospheres at the excursion site were prepared by the instructors before the virtual trip.
The instructors guided the students with their panopticon. The students could rotate their heads to view the whole environment and interact with the VR environment. Subsequently, the students had to answer the questions related to the shown environment.
The benefits of virtual reality in chemistry education
Applying a Virtual Reality Platform in Environmental Chemistry Education to Conduct a Field Trip to an Overseas Site. Fun Man Fung, Wen Yi Choo, Alvita Ardisara, Christoph Dominik Zimmermann, Simon Watts, Thierry Koscielniak, Etienne Blanc, Xavier Coumoul, and Rainer Dumke. J. Chem. Educ. 2019, j96, 382−386.
Using VR technology in field trip has three main benefits:
(1) the VR field trip can create a fascinating environment for the students to explore and experience different fields without high costs and time.
(2) this method is a web-based editing tool that could help the instructors lead their classes. The educators can guide the students along the VR tour or let the students themselves inspect the VR environment in a self-paced manner.
(3) the students can easily take the field trip by using their smartphones, through a mobile application (app). The edu2VR platform is hosted on a cloud server and the students could get access to all the contents from anywhere.
The results and feedback on the VR field trip
Based on the feedback after the experience, the students reported general receptiveness and enthusiasm toward such use of VR technology. For many of the students, the main challenge was disorientation and some app limitations for clearly watching the details. In several cases, some older smartphones were not compatible with the app. Nonetheless, a majority of the students reported a positive experience.
Applying Virtual Reality in chemistry education gained positive feedback and showed that a web-based VR online platform to simulate a field trip could be beneficial both for students and instructors. We recommend that you read Inmywork weblog for articles about art and science.