Knowing wood species in immersive way – forest science students co-creating virtual arboretum 

We launched a new exercise for master level course Wood Science (FOR-267), where students can themselves dive into both real the Arboretum in Viikki , and co-create a virtual, immersive learning forest of several tree species.  

Together with Global Campus, Viikki arboretum experts and collaborator from University of Eastern Finland, we picked the browser-based platform Thinglink which allows for the use of immersive 360° images and videos. Sasa Tkalcan of Global campus created a base structure for an elaborate Thinglink with drone, 360° and smart phone imagery that served as the base platform for the students to work with. A short introduction on how to use Thinglink was provided to the students at the beginning. The students were divided into groups and assigned a tree species, from which they then took photos, videos, and, also added texts based on the literature reviews following a matrix given in the course.  

Teacher’s opinion: “The outcomes by the students are amazing – they had the freedom to implement the tasks by using all the technical possibilities Thinglink offers, and their own creativity. The results really encourage to continue the joint development of creative learning tasks in the coming years. Also, working with Global campus has been very eye-opening, and inspiring. As a new teacher at the university, I have enjoyed having fruitful discussions and receiving guidance in applying new educational methods and digital tools in the courses of my responsibility.  

Screenshot from one of the students’ work (Jacob Payne)

The new tools, such as Thinglink, can provide our students with up-to-date, competitive learning spaces in virtual forms to indulge in material science  education. When virtual learning spaces, that are freely accessible any time, are combined with contact teaching exercises in the campus, we reached a well-balanced course structure that engages students in content using multiple methods. 

The next course already starts in the first period in fall 2024! Join the fun and fruitful way of learning in the field of wood science!
Tuula Jyske
Wood, Science and Well-being research group

Screenshot from one of the students’ work (Jacob Payne)

Student comments: 

Jake: “I really enjoyed this part of the course. It was unusual to be able to use such intuitive multimedia (especially the tagging system and the ability to “move” between areas), and in my opinion it’s a much more interesting way to engage with the content than traditional approaches. It was also nice to be able to spend time outdoors and make my own observations of plants in nature as part of the course. Thinglink does have some usability issues, but these can be worked around and overall, it’s easy enough to use”. 

Screenshot from one of the students’ work (Jacob Payne)