Dan Foster and Melanie FosterWe are excited to announce Daniel Foster and Melanie Miller Foster as 2016-2017 TLT Fellows, whom we’re working with to explore the use of 360° video as part of immersive educational experiences for students. Daniel and Melanie bring years of agriculture education experience, and a passion to bring the best educational experiences to students in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

A specific aspect of 360° video we’re excited about is the ability to virtually transport students to specific destinations, all while they are physically still here at Penn State. “Working in the field of international agriculture, the educational applications of 360 degree video are thrilling to imagine,” says Melanie. “While only a percentage of students study abroad, imagine the options for using immersive technologies to transport an entire class to a far-flung destination.  While immersive technologies can’t replace study abroad experiences, it can bring a new level of understanding and interest to the concepts discussed in an on-campus class.”

If our team can identify the workflows, necessary hardware and software, and test these immersive experiences, this opens up a pathway to provide similar experiences to students from not only Agricultural Sciences, but all disciplines across Penn State. Study abroad experiences are incredibly valuable to student learning, but they just don’t scale. Imagine if part of a study abroad experience for a student is to take a 360° to a new destination, and capture specific footage related to the student’s field of study. Then, upon returning to Penn State, that footage can be leveraged to create an immersive experience for exponentially more students that are unable to study abroad.

Another great aspect of this project is that once the video is edited and put into it’s final form as a learning object, it can be reused indefinitely, across a broad range of contexts. Daniel elaborates “I’m very excited about developing reusable learning objects for professional development training to address food-security issues in developing communities across the globe. If we can harness immersive technology and 360′ video to essentially be able to transport learners anywhere in the world INTO the learning laboratories or contextually-relevant authentic applied learning environments to the problem we are addressing, we can revolutionize approaches to agricultural education with nothing more than a smart phone and a google-cardboard headset!”

We look forward to working with Daniel and Melanie this year to create early examples of immersive educational experiences focusing on Agriculture Education. We believe that this project will pave the way for many future efforts, in different disciplines, that leverage immersive experiences to create new learning opportunities for Penn State students!


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Daniel Foster
Agricultural Teacher Educator
Associate Professor
Agricultural and Extension Education
Department of Agricultural Economics,
Sociology and Education
College of Agricultural Sciences
Melanie Miller Foster
Assistant Professor
International Agriculture
Office of International Programs
College of Agricultural Sciences

Daniel and Melanie’s Team include:
Ryan Wetzel (lead)
Kristen McAuley
Dan Getz
Nick Smerker

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