Digital Immersion for Sustainable Tourism Education: A Roadmap to Virtual Fieldtrips
Fieldtrips have been an important component of a range of educational disciplines for many decades and the associated pedagogies of active and experiential learning have been promoted since the early 1900s. Active learning, which is an integral part of fieldtrips has been found to act as a valuable means of engaging students with the subject, enhancing student’s subject knowledge and understanding, and developing lifelong learners. Fieldtrips additionally allow for a concept or topic to be examined in its social, cultural, environmental and political context, thus creating a space for situated learning, which is recognised to assist in crystallising learning outcomes for students. The merit of fieldtrips to learn about complex topics, such as sustainable tourism development is thus well established. However, today’s teaching and learning budgets are constrained and students are less able to pay for fieldtrips in the face of steadily increasing tuition costs in most countries than they may have been in the past. As a consequence, the tradition of fieldtrips has become less common despite its recognised educational value. In response, this book chapter presents a learning tool which provides a trade-off between the benefits and drawbacks of the comparatively affordable ‘one dimensional’ text based case study and the rich, authentic, but increasingly less accessible multi-dimensional experience of a real fieldtrip—by presenting a digital immersion (virtual) fieldtrip.
KeywordsVirtual fieldtrips Sustainable tourism development Digital immersion Active learning Open Simulator Fiji
I wish to thank the VUW Teaching and Learning Development Fund for supporting this pilot project. Additionally, I am grateful to the people of Yasawa-i-rara and Bukama for their wonderful hospitality and for kindly sharing their views and experiences of life on a remote South Pacific Island. As project leader I would also like to thank the other project members for their valuable expert contributions: Maciu Raivoka (VUW’s Professional and Executive Development Program); Prof Warwick Murray (VUW Development Studies); David McLean (Freelance Digital Designer); and Dr Scott Diener and his Digital Design Team at Auckland University.
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