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eSTEeM: Virtual Reality, Haptics and Interactive Web Broadcasts - bringing the 'real' world into online learning

12 December 2017

Cloud created by:

Maryja Strickland
1 December 2017

Date: Tuesday 12 December 2017

Time: 10:00 – 12:00

Place: Library Seminar Rooms 1 and 2


  • 10:00     Introduction to eSTEeMDiane Butler (Deputy Director of eSTEeM)

  • 10:10     Using virtual reality to improve the effectiveness of outdoor fieldwork educationTom Argles (Senior Lecturer, School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences ) and Shailey Minocha (Professor of Learning Technologies and Social Computing)
  • 10:40     Touching Creativity; an investigation in the use of virtual haptics at the initial phase of design conceptionLisa Bowers (Staff Tutor, School of Engineering and Innovation)
  • 11:10     Break for refreshments and a chance to try out the haptics app and device
  • 11:30     Improving access to fieldwork through interactive web broadcasts Phil Wheeler (Senior Lecturer, School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences)

You are welcome to attend for all or part of the event, and we will aim to stick to timings to enable you to do that.

If you are planning to attend in person, please email  so we can order enough refreshments.

Please also pass on details of this event to any of your colleagues who might be interested in attending.




Title: Using virtual reality to improve the effectiveness of outdoor fieldwork education: Tom Argles and Shailey Minocha

Abstract: We will discuss a range of virtual reality technologies: from 360-degree photospheres (e.g. as in the Google Expeditions mobile virtual reality app) and 360-degree videos, to avatar-based multi-user 3D virtual environments developed in Unity 3D.  We will discuss the pedagogical affordances of these virtual reality technologies and how virtual reality-based virtual field trips support and enhance outdoor fieldwork education and experiences.

Title: Touching Creativity; an investigation in the use of virtual haptics at the initial phase of design conception: Lisa Bowers, Nick Braithwaite and Ryan Hayle

Abstract: For many non-sighted or visually impaired distance learning students enrolled on design study modules, the chance to get ‘hands-on’ is important as it enables learners to use their sense of touch allowing more meaningful design practice.  In this study a haptic device has been used to facilitate non-sighted, visually impaired and fully sighted students to assemble a 3D prototype via touch led interactions.  Based on inclusive design foundations students and design academics were consulted at all levels of the study to afford user led issues.  The study goes some way to enabling access to a wider student community to touch led virtual simulations of a studio modelling space.

This workshop session will allow interested candidates to use the haptic APP and device to recreate the haptic test and assemble a virtual 3D model within a bounded space. Questions and feedback welcome. 

Title: Improving access to fieldwork through interactive web broadcasts: Phil Wheeler, Julia Cooke, Kadmiel Maseyk and Trevor Collins

Abstract: Fieldwork is an essential part of study in many environmental science subjects.  For a whole range of reasons, getting into the field can be difficult for students, especially those who study at distance.  We wanted to create an authentic fieldwork experience for distance learning students.  We designed a student-led field investigation based around environmental processes in a species-rich meadow and delivered it through a series of ‘fieldcasts’: live, interactive web broadcasts from the outdoors.  The students chose what to study and how, and how to analyse the resulting data.  We evaluated the impact of the fieldcasts through participation data, student comments and some follow-up interviews.  The students felt that the fieldcasts had contributed to an increase in their confidence in designing and carrying out a field investigation, and that the interactivity enabled them to feel part of it rather than just observing.  They described the fieldcasts as though we were acting as their hands while they looked over our shoulder.  We think this model may be useful across the OU and beyond for bringing fieldwork to a wider audience.

All future eLC events will be livestreamed & available to those hoping to access remotely - this event will be livestreamed via Stadium on Tuesday 12 December 2017.

Details of previous events can be found on our Cloudworks page and recordings of many of our past events are also available via Stadium.

The replays from this eLC Community Event can be accessed via Stadium.

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