The Virtual Trillium Trail is a new type of computer game, one that crosses the boundaries into geo-spatial visualization and virtual reality. It is an immersive learning simulation, and virtual environment of a real world field trip to a North American, deciduous forest and wildflower reserve. The content is consistent with the informal learning curriculum of the Audubon Society of Western PA and the formal Pennsylvania Department of Education Ecology standards, and more.
The original prototype software was part of a Ph.D. dissertation on intrinsic learning in simulations and virtual environments where it showed close to 40% learning gains, student enjoyment, and parental approval.
The Virtual Trillium Trail is a product of Virtual Field Trips, LLC. It is a virtual reality learning simulation of a real world field trip and a virtual environment built on high-end computer game technologies, positioned to become a new type of virtual reality game for learning in school or at home. Not your typical computer game, but a realistic virtual world infused with educational content, where the learner can explore anywhere, and inquire on anything of interest, to the breadth and depth of their desire.
The content is based on the fourth grade science and ecology curriculum aligned with the Pennsylvania Department of Education Ecology standards, and informal learning from real world field trips offered by the Audubon Society of Western PA. There are about 20 concepts, 20 plants and about 1,000 facts.
Teachers can deploy and use the software in many ways. Ideal for the fourth grade student, it is age appropriate for children from second grade up to seventh grade. The teachers can act as a guide, while the virtual world is projected on to a screen for the entire class to see, or the software can be installed in a PC computer lab where the students can explore independently at their own pace. Empirical tests show learning gains close to 40% in the independent, free and open exploration mode in only one hour. If structure is desired, teachers can give students a map and assign a treasure hunt to find facts and concepts. Moreover, it can be used before and or after a real field trip, to more than double learning in the real field trip, thus providing a higher economic value from real field trip.
At home, parents can choose to purchase it for the same cost as other non-educational, entertainment video and computer games, but know that their children will be entertained and also learn. Look for a new computer in 2012 with the 1 GB dedicated graphics card (GPU) such as a NVIDIA or ATI, and the 4 GB RAM, and which will run this game quite well. Other options are to upgrade older computers with adequate graphics cards and RAM necessary to run the application.