How academics and the public experienced immersive virtual reality for geo-education

Fabio L. Bonali*, Elena Russo, Fabio Vitello, Varvara Antoniou, Fabio Marchese, Luca Fallati, Valentina Bracchi, Noemi Corti, Alessandra Savini, Malcolm Whitworth, Kyriaki Drymoni, Federico Pasquaré Mariotto, Paraskevi Nomikou, Eva Sciacca, Sofia Bressan, Susanna Falsaperla, Danilo Reitano, Benjamin van Wyk de Vries, Mel Krokos, Giuliana PanieriMathew Alexander Stiller-Reeve, Giuseppe Vizzari, Ugo Becciani, Alessandro Tibaldi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Immersive virtual reality can potentially open up interesting geological sites to students, academics and others who may not have had the opportunity to visit such sites previously. We study how users perceive the usefulness of an immersive virtual reality approach applied to Earth Sciences teaching and communication. During nine immersive virtual reality-based events held in 2018 and 2019 in various locations (Vienna in Austria, Milan and Catania in Italy, Santorini in Greece), a large number of visitors had the opportunity to navigate, in immersive mode, across geological landscapes reconstructed by cutting-edge, unmanned aerial system-based photogrammetry techniques. The reconstructed virtual geological environments are specifically chosen virtual geosites, from Santorini (Greece), the North Volcanic Zone (Iceland), and Mt. Etna (Italy). Following the user experiences, we collected 459 questionnaires, with a large spread in participant age and cultural background. We find that the majority of respondents would be willing to repeat the immersive virtual reality experience, and importantly, most of the students and Earth Science academics who took part in the navigation confirmed the usefulness of this approach for geo-education purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Number of pages22
JournalGeosciences (Switzerland)
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • education
  • Etna
  • geology
  • Iceland
  • immersive virtual reality
  • photogrammetry
  • Santorini

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