Using Virtual Reality to Learn about Place


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While being able to read data correctly is a vital skill, many sociology classes rely heavily on charts, graphs and tables that can be overwhelming and disengaging for students. One way to overcome this is for students to see firsthand the concept that they are learning about. Because it is not always possible for students to physically travel to the place that they are learning about, virtual reality can provide a simulation of these places. The virtual reality activity described here was used in a 200 level poverty studies course to teach students about geographic variations in poverty. It can easily be adapted to other sociology courses where geographic concepts are taught, such as globalization. Through this experiential learning activity, students can view poverty “firsthand” with the use of virtual reality technology. Students work in small groups to explore areas of the world that experience high rates of poverty via Google Earth. As students engage in the activity, they take notes on their ideas and findings for each location they view. Once all of the students have completed the activity, the class ends with a group discussion of what they learned about geographic variations in poverty. This activity challenges students to use information learned in previous weeks of class to analyze places facing poverty around the world.


Resource Type(s):
Class Activity 
Julia Waity
Samantha Durham 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Visual Sociology 
Class Level:
Class Size:

Usage Notes:

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Usage Notes Instructions We conducted this activity in a 200-level course called poverty studies, which is an elective for sociology majors but also fulfills two general education requirements, so most of the students were not sociology majors. While poverty itself might be well known to the students, it is possible that this...

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
1. By completing this activity, students will demonstrate an understanding of how poverty can appear different around the world.
Assessment 1:
1. Students will fill out a worksheet that requires them to critically think and describe the variations or similarities they find from each location they view through the virtual reality simulation.
Goal 2:
2. By completing this activity, students will be able to discuss conditions of poverty and how they may impact the individuals living in the area.
Assessment 2:
2. Students will be required to discuss with the class their findings from the activity and critically describe how these conditions could be impacting those living in the area.
Goal 3:
3. By completing this activity, students will be able to demonstrate reflection skills and apply previously discussed materials to new activities.
Assessment 3:
3. Students will explain in class discussion how previously discussed materials from class apply to the areas they viewed in the virtual reality simulation.

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Using Virtual Reality to Learn About Place revision.docx
Using Virtual Reality to Learn About Place worksheet.docx