Research-led virtual field trips

Developing a framework for research-led virtual field trips: Physical and social issues of the natural hazards of Ecuador

School:  GeoSciences

Team Members: Andrew Bell, Meredith Corey, Sophie Butcher


Field experiences are an essential element of geoscience learning. Geoscience is fundamentally spatial in nature. Field trips can act as inspirational experiences, and provide opportunities for reinforcement and integration of ideas and concepts taught in the classroom. Issues associated with natural hazards inherently involve the interaction between the natural and human worlds, and so field experience is critical for understanding the physical and social science of natural hazards. Many academics have strong research links in countries around the world, and potential access to a variety of unique teaching material. However, practical and financial constraints mean field visits to many educationally-attractive research locations are not viable. This is particularly true for online distance-learning courses, where the class may never actually be physically in the same place, and students may have limited time and financial resources.

In this project, we will design, develop, and produce a research-led ‘virtual field trip’ (VFT) to provide innovative teaching material for several teaching initiatives, including a new online course on volcanic hazards. We will evaluate a range of filming and production technologies, and consider the merits of different styles of VFT. This process will allow us to outline a framework for the efficient development of similar research-led virtual case studies in future. The VFT will be based on the course team’s research links in Ecuador, exploring a range of issues associated with the physical and social science of volcanic and earthquake hazards, and produced with the support of in-country partners.

Final project report

Download the final project report (PDF)