Comparing the effectiveness of virtual and traditional forestry field tours Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/r781wm02z

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  • Virtual tours are among the many new Internet-based tools with potential applications as continuing forestry education programs. While technology exists to create virtual tour websites, little is understood about how well they meet educational objectives and whether they are complementary alternatives to traditional field tours. The Sustainable Forestry Partnership and the Forestry Media Center at Oregon State University created parallel virtual and field tours. Both tours illustrated the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators for sustainable forestry. The tours were offered to a continuing forestry education audience that included local members of the Society of American Foresters, family forestland owners, and OSU faculty, staff, and students. We created pre-tour and post-tour assessment forms containing yes/no, multiple-choice, Likert rating, and open-ended questions to evaluate effectiveness of both tours. Observational data were also gathered while participating in the tours. To measure progress toward achieving the outcomes, we looked at gain scores for the test questions. While participants did not achieve all five learning outcomes, results of the gain score comparison indicate that comparable amounts of learning resulted from both tours. We also compared overall experience ratings. Participant responses suggested that the virtual tour experience was comparable to the field tour experience. Participants found equivalent enjoyment from both experiences and suggested improvements for several of aspects of both tours. The results of the statistical test found no significant difference between experience ratings. If constructed carefully, virtual tours can be effective "stand-alone" continuing education experiences as well as unique complements to traditional field tours.
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