Welcome to the blog of the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Northampton. This will keep you up to date with both student and staff activities.

The Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences includes staff with interests in biological sciences, conservation, ecology, environmental sciences, environmental statistics, geography and waste management. We offer a range of degree programmes and have a number of postgraduate research students. For more information about studying with us please visit http://www.northampton.ac.uk/.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Virtual reality field trips

A number of Environmental and Geographical Sciences students recently took part in a project looking at the use of Virtual Reality devices and field trips. This is an ongoing collaborative project between Dr Naomi Holmes (Department of Environmental & Geographical Sciences), Dr Scott Turner (Department of Computing and Immersive Technologies) and Adel Gordon (Learning Technology Team).

Virtual field trips are not a new idea; they have however, in the past, been perceived negatively by students, often due to a poor representation of reality. This project is investigating whether the Oculus Rift, described as a ‘next-generation virtual reality headset designed for immersive gaming’ (http://www.oculusvr.com/) provides a more immersive, and therefore, more real experience.

The Oculus Rift was investigated as a tool for preparing for field trips. A number of students volunteered to test the Oculus Rift. The Tuscan house and gardens demo that comes with the Oculus Rift (available through the Oculus Rift developer centre https://developer.oculusvr.com/) was used as the basis of the test. The students spent some time immersed in the virtual environment and then provided feedback. Many students also suggested a number of potential other uses of the Oculus Rift within their degree programmes.