University of Calgary Mixed Reality Field Trips
The University of Calgary commitment to innovation helped inspire their new method of teaching. The school’s Department of Geoscience latest initiative combines Mixed Reality and HoloLens technology with the study of our planet’s landscape for unique immersive educational experience.
One of the first courses for first year students is to explore the river valleys in Utah. Professors and past students found the traditional method of teaching outdated and lackluster. In respond they developed a new technique which takes images and descriptions and brings them to life. Once students place the Mixed Reality headset on, they are taken on a virtual magic school bus ride and transported to the river valleys of Utah. A virtual outcrop model (VOM) or digital twin of the river valley is shown before the users’ eyes. Students have full capability to scale the model up or down, interact, and manipulate angles.
Professors highlighted some key benefits once the technology is used throughout the school. One was the virtual Mixed Reality field trip would allow student access to restricted areas they normally would not have access to such as a protected dinosaur dig. The second this helps create inclusion for all students as the logistics challenges of a 460-student field trip for example would be near impossible. Third creates an efficient way to experience as many scenarios as possible. Students will explore the river valleys in Utah one second and then transported across the world to learn about Mount Everest in Asia.
The new method was a success with one student stating this process “makes education 10 times better.” This feedback was music to everyone ears and insight how this technology would improve the courses in other departments. Annie Quinney, PhD stated “we would love for other instructors to suggest what content would work for the learning outcomes they’re trying to achieve.” For now this pilot is within the University of Calgary Department of Geoscience but with their focus on improvement the use cases will be everywhere.