Virtual Tours of the NU Farms

Gosia Rabenda Derman, Michelle Black & Colleagues

Learning and Teaching Development Service; colleagues from SNES

Academic Services and Science, Agriculture and Engineering

What did you do?

As part of the Agriculture, Earth and Environment, and Applied Social Sciences Cluster (AESSC) Curriculum Redesign Project within SNES, we have developed virtual tours of NU Cockle Park and Nafferton Farms using H5P. These virtual tours serve multiple purposes, such as providing an immersive experience during Open Days, familiarising students and colleagues with the farms prior to field trips, and enriching fieldwork activities with supplementary information, including videos showcasing teaching and research platforms, as well as links to ongoing research projects.

Who is involved?

The development of virtual tours was a collaborative initiative undertaken by LTDS (Learning and Teaching Development Service) in partnership with colleagues from SNES (School of Natural and Environmental Sciences). The main stakeholders were: Gosia Rabenda Derman and Michelle Black (LTDS Learning Design and Curriculum Development advisers); Devin Louittit and Helen Anderson (LTDS Content Developers); James Standen (NU Farms Manager); Sarah Banks (Outstations Operations Manager); Allison Lawson (Outstations Operations Administrator); Dave George (Reader in Precision Agronomy, representing the Farm Strategy Group). Additionally, we recorded videos explaining research projects done on the NU Farms, featuring researchers, technicians and lecturers. The videos were then edited by LTDS content developers, who assembled the tours in H5P. It was a true collaborative effort!

How did you do it?

The process involved several steps:

  • Meetings with main stakeholders  to identify and understand the various facilities available on the farm. This ensured a comprehensive overview of the resources to be featured in the virtual tours.
  • Scoping workshops with colleagues working at, or using the farm facilities for research and teaching. These workshops allowed for valuable insights and feedback from experts, helping to refine the selection and scope of projects to be highlighted.
  • After determining the projects to feature, LTDS content developers visited the farms several times to capture the 360-degree footage required for the virtual tours. This ensured an authentic representation of the farm environment and its associated facilities.
  • Interviews with colleagues who generously shared their knowledge and provided detailed information about their projects, and the facilities they were involved with. These interviews served as content for the virtual tours, adding a personal touch and enhancing the viewers’ understanding of the research and teaching aspects related to the farms. Videos were then edited by LTDS content developers.
  • The final step involved assembling the virtual tours in H5P, integrating the edited videos, supplementary information, and interactive elements to create an engaging and educational resource.

These virtual tours are considered living documents, allowing for ongoing edits and updates. As new research projects are undertaken or facilities undergo changes, the tours can be modified to reflect the latest developments, ensuring their relevance and accuracy.

Here is the final product:


Why did you do it?

NU Farms are exceptional facilities that provide students and colleagues with unique opportunities to engage in diverse research and teaching initiatives. However, discussions revealed that not all colleagues were fully aware of the extensive possibilities offered by the farms in terms of research and teaching. Additionally, we were eager to highlight the initiatives taking place on the farms and share them with a wider audience.

By creating these virtual tours, we aim to create a more engaging and comprehensive learning environment that enhances the overall educational experience for students and facilitates a deeper understanding of the practical aspects associated with our agricultural and environmental studies. The virtual tours can:

  • Reduce students’ uncertainty about a new environment (field, laboratory);
  • Provide crucial information before a fieldwork or lab work (e.g. presenting H&S information before attending a lab session), allowing the best use of time during an actual field trip;
  • Enabling students to “revisit” the site, supporting knowledge retention, or enabling practice in a safe space;
  • Enabling students to see the site in different seasons, or providing an opportunity to see the site should the physical tour be impossible;
  • Complementing field trips or lab work with additional data.

Does it work?

While the farms are planned to be used in the 2023/24 academic year modules, we have already received positive feedback from both colleagues and students. The initial response has been encouraging, highlighting the value and potential impact of incorporating these tours into the curriculum.

Furthermore, the farm tours have already proven to be highly effective during Open Days. They have provided a dynamic platform to showcase the wide array of projects being conducted on the farms, as well as the exceptional quality of the facilities, laboratories, and seminar rooms available to students and researchers.

The Graduate Framework

The virtual fieldtrips support the following attributes:

  • Digitally capable
  • Creative, innovative and enterprising
  • Curious
  • Collaborative

Learn More

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