The following exploratory convergent mixed-methods study examined graduate students’ experiences developing and facilitating 360º photo-based virtual reality (VR) tours titled Labs and Landscapes focused on forest conservation and climate change education, as well as tour impacts on public audiences. Graduate students in an agricultural and natural resources communication course at The University of Florida used 360º cameras, mobile devices, and online software to create VR tours about the UF/IFAS Austin Cary Research Forest. Then, the students guided public participants through the tours in three physical informal learning environments including a museum, brewery, and campus tabling site within the university community. Data collection included VR tour artifacts, audio recordings of students’ VR facilitation and discourse with the public, post-surveys of public participants’ tour impressions and climate change attitudes, and pre-/post-student reflections. Data sources were collected separately and mixed in interpretation. Results showed students increased their multimedia communication skills, knowledge of natural resource conservation, and confidence in communicating with public audiences. Additionally, survey results indicated public participants agreed the students successfully guided the tours, agreed it is important to learn about conservation and climate change, and had some disagreement with the statement that humans cannot prevent climate change.
Stone, Whitney; Loizzo, Jamie; Aenlle, Jacqueline; and Beattie, Peyton
"Labs and Landscapes Virtual Reality: Student-Created Forest Conservation Tours for Informal Public Engagement,"
Journal of Applied Communications:
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