Enhancing Environment Education Through Virtual Tours

Author: Derek Wallis

Mentors: Prajukti Bhattacharyya, Ryan Petterson



Virtual tours act as a means to explore diverse environments and phenomena from
anywhere in the world. Particularly beneficial for individuals facing physical limitations or
geographical barriers, virtual tours provide an opportunity to visit remote areas, historical
sites, and other locations that may be challenging to access. They also serve as a safe
and controlled environment for exploration, catering to individuals with limited mobility or
those unable to undertake long-distance travel.
Beyond offering access to hard-to-reach locations, virtual tours can supplement field trips.
While nothing can replace the in-person experience, virtual field trips enable those unable
to attend physically to participate virtually, reducing anxiety and providing an opportunity to
prepare for the trip. Such Virtual tours are already in use by the Stanford University
The project’s primary focus is on creating virtual tours for the University of Wisconsin
Whitewater’s (UWW’s) Nature Preserve, the Whitewater Effigy Mounds Preserve, the
Koshkonong Effigy Mounds, and the UWW’s campus garden. UWW Nature Preserve will
be promoted by demonstrating the changes the prairie undergoes, benefiting the UWW
Sustainability Office. Furthermore, the virtual tour of the two effigy mound preserves will
foster respect for the area and aid in its preservation. Finally, the tour of the campus
garden will highlight the efforts to address food insecurities. Future work involves
enhancing these tours by adding more information and tailoring them to specific classes or
projects. We also plan on creating virtual tours to showcase human impacts on
environmentally sensitive locations which might be inaccessible by the general population
to ensure their effectiveness, feedback from users will be gathered using a Google form.
In conclusion, virtual tours offer invaluable opportunities for individuals with physical or
medical limitations to participate in field trips and explore hard-to-reach locations. While
nothing can fully replace the in-person experience, virtual field trips reduce anxiety, help
individuals prepare for the trip, and boost confidence.

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 55, No. 6, 2023
doi: 10.1130/abs/2023AM-392156
© Copyright 2023 The Geological Society of America (GSA), all rights reserved.