Web-based Game vs. Virtual Reality Field Surveying Labs towards Enhancing Experiential Education

Dimitrios Bolkas, Mojgan A. Jadidi, Jeffrey Chiampi, Muhammad Usman

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introductory surveying engineering courses include several outdoor labs that introduce students to proper use instruments and equipment. Through practice and experiential learning students develop technical skills and learn about surveying techniques and methods. In addition, through review and reflection of their surveys, students are able to reinforce concepts learned in lectures. Outdoor labs have several challenges such as being affected by weather leading to cancellations that disrupt the educational process. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new challenges and forced virtualization of outdoor labs. Development of virtual and immersive technologies in the past decade have sparked applications in engineering education, offering viable alternatives, and enhancing traditional instructional approaches. Indeed, virtual reality and gamification technologies offer different learning approaches while various learning outcome can be achieved. In this paper two promising approaches, Web-based game and virtual reality, for virtualization of experiential educations and remote field delivery have been investigated. This study uses data collected in different institutions but in similar introductory surveying courses. The first dataset is from civil engineering students who used a game-based Web application to simulate topographic surveying. Being a game-based implementation, emphasis is placed on following best field practices rather than faithful replication of surveying instruments. The second dataset is from surveying engineering students who completed leveling labs in immersive and interactive virtual reality using Oculus hardware. The environment and instrument were faithfully modeled in Unity from their physical counterparts, giving a sense of realism. Both game-based and virtual reality approaches have different advantages and disadvantages, that makes them effective in different learning settings. A comparison of these two approaches demonstrates the synergies of future integrated implementation. Lessons learned will help instructors in understanding and identifying the proper technology to address experiential educational challenges that are related with virtually training engineering students.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 26 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr Mojgan Jadidi is an assistant professor at Lassonde school of Engineering, Geomatics engineering program who embraces the power of location turn to knowledge discovery for better and informed decision making in the context of smart buildings, infrastructures and cities. Dr Jadidi’s research interest include Building Information Model (BIM) and 3D GIS Integration, Spatial Graph and Online Analytical Processing (OLAP), Geospatial Knowledge discovery and Data Mining in 2D and 3D spaces for applications of Smart Environmental/Building/Cities and Intelligent Transportation. Also, she has passion for engineering education using virtual reality and gamification technologies and learning analytics. Her research has been funded by multiple grants from NSERC, Mitacs, COMREN, Academic Innovation Fund (AIF), and internal York University funds. She is currently associate Director of ESRI Center of Excellence at York University.

Publisher Copyright:
© American Society for Engineering Education, 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering (all)


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