Field Trips of the Future?

October 19, 2017

Biologist Douglas McCauley examines the benefits and drawbacks of virtual and augmented reality in teaching environmental science

Virtual reality has nothing on nature. Just ask the UC Santa Barbara students who one recent day trekked to a forest before dawn to listen to a chorus of early birds.

They had hiked into the woods for that very purpose as part of a field study course, tasked with identifying as many species as possible by their vocalizations. After 20 minutes, most had picked up the territorial call of a red-shouldered hawk and two acorn woodpeckers chattering in the trees. A few careful listeners detected the twitter of a hummingbird.

Virtual reality has nothing on nature. Just ask the UC Santa Barbara students who one recent day trekked to a forest before dawn to listen to a chorus of early birds.

They had hiked into the woods for that very purpose as part of a field study course, tasked with identifying as many species as possible by their vocalizations. After 20 minutes, most had picked up the territorial call of a red-shouldered hawk and two acorn woodpeckers chattering in the trees. A few careful listeners detected the twitter of a hummingbird.

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