The iLRN 2020 Virtual Conference has now concluded. If you registered for the conference, recordings of many of the sessions are available to you on the respective pages for the sessions on this site (you will need to be logged in to view the content). If you did not register for the conference, please sign up for a free individual membership of iLRN and we will contact you in due course to provide you with details on how you can gain access to the recordings.

Additionally, a highlights reel from the conference is available here.
Wednesday, June 24 • 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Nature and Environmental Sciences Education

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Presentation 1: Using Immersive Technology to Visualize Climate Change (Practitioner Presentation #152)

Authors: Suzanne Borders

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As the scale and complexity of modern datasets grows, they become increasingly difficult to visualize, analyze, and communicate to others. This is especially true of worldwide climate data. Scientists and academics who study the impact of climate change have the necessary training and tools to understand the insights within these datasets. They understand the magnitude of the effect even minor adjustments to emissions can have on our daily lives – and the future of our world. But what about the rest of us? How do we accurately share important data driven insights about climate change with general public? How do we make difficult, complex geospatial datasets meaningful outside of academia? Suzanne will discuss how immersive technology – augmented and virtual reality – can help us achieve all of these things. Her company, BadVR, works with NOAA and the UNDP to provide a universally accessible interface to global climate change data that allows every user the ability to step inside and explore this vitally important information. She’ll discuss how immersive interfaces help build empathy, increase engagement, and heighten insight retention, making the experience of stepping inside the earth’s future incredibly important for us all.

Presentation 2: Natural science outreach in virtual worlds (Practitioner Presentation #164)

Authors: Alexander Kaurov and Elizabeth Tasker

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Short Description: Museums and planetariums are struggling to survive in the current economic situation, but the use of virtual worlds can bring their immersive presentations online to reach audiences around the globe. In contrast to traditional printed media and video streaming services, the interactive nature of virtual worlds enables STEM role modeling for young people otherwise lacking the opportunity to meet face-to-face with scientists. Additionally, with no need to travel physically, the virtual planetarium reduces the logistical complications and consequently reduces the cost and environmental impact. It also allows experiences impossible in a regular lecture room, such as visiting outer space or the deep ocean, providing new ways to engage with the learning material and feel part of scientific discoveries. As the proof of concept, we developed an experience that covers the Hayabusa2 space mission led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It contains multiple custom-developed scenes that recreate real and fictitious places and allow the students to stand on the surface of an asteroid. With the use of Mozilla Hubs platform, multiple students share the same virtual space with the lecturer and interact with the environment and each other. We are in the process of testing and learning ways to present outreach lectures in the virtual world and design the environment for effective learning. More information here: https://www.omniscope.org/outreach Target audience: * Educators who are seeking new methods to engage with their students using virtual worlds. * Educators who are looking to reach a wide audience that might be situated far from museums or learning institutes, or who cannot travel due to funds or health concerns. * Developers looking for new examples of using VR. Outcomes: The audience will learn about the prospects of moving planetarium-like and natural museum-like experiences into the virtual worlds.

Presentation 3: Fostering Penetrative Thinking in Geosciences Through Immersive Experiences: A Case Study in Visualizing Earthquake Locations in 3D (Full Paper #71)

Authors: Mahda M. Bagher, Pejman Sajjadi, Julia Carr, Peter La Femina and Alexander Klippel

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Thinking in and understanding of three-dimensional structures is omnipresent in many sciences from chemistry to geosciences. Current visualizations, however, are still using two-dimensional media such as maps or three-dimensional representation accessible through two-dimensional interfaces (e.g., desktop computers). The emergence of immersive virtual reality environments, both accessible and of high-quality, allows for creating embodied and interactive experiences that permit for rethinking learning environments and provide access to three-dimensional information through three-dimensional interfaces. There is a lack of empirical studies on immersive learning environments and in response to this shortcoming, we examine the role of immersive VR (iVR) in improving students’ learning experience and performance in a critical 3D task in geosciences: drawing cross-sections across two subduction zones visualizing the extent, depth, and geometry of earthquakes. Results of a pilot study that compared iVR and 2D maps on a desktop computer show that iVR creates a better learning experience; students reported significantly higher scores in terms of the Spatial Situation Model (SSM) and there is anecdotal evidence in favor of higher reflective thinking in the iVR. In terms of learning performance, we did not find a significant difference in students' graded exercise of drawing cross-sections. However, iVR seems to have a positive effect on understanding the shape of earthquakes in challenging geologic environments such as Japan. The result, therefore, adds to the growing body of literature that draws a more nuanced picture of the benefits of immersive learning environment calling for larger scale and in-depth studies.

avatar for Alexander Kaurov

Alexander Kaurov

postdoc, IAS
Astrophysicist interested in using the VR for science communication.
avatar for Suzanne Borders

Suzanne Borders

CEO & Founder, BadVR, Inc.
Suzanne is the CEO & founder of BadVR, the world's first immersive data analytics platform. She previously led product design and UX at 2D analytics companies including Remine, CREXi, and Osurv. A recipient of SBIRs grants from the National Science Foundation and NOAA and a recipient... Read More →
avatar for Pejman Sajjadi

Pejman Sajjadi

Postdoctoral Researcher, The Pennsylvania State University

Elizabeth Tasker

Associate Professor, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
avatar for Mahda M. Bagher

Mahda M. Bagher

PhD Candidate, Pennsylvania State University
Mahda is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Geography and a member of ChoroPhronesis lab. She has a multidisciplinary background focusing on GIScience and immersive technologies. Her main focus is to facilitate embodied learning through immersive VR. She is interested in research... Read More →

Wednesday June 24, 2020 6:00pm - 7:00pm PDT
Blue Event Hall iLRN Virtual Campus, powered by VirBELA