The Department of Geology

The School of Earth, Society, and Environment

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Virtual Field Trip Home

What are Virtual Field Trips?

Virtual field trips allow students to experience some place in the world through their computer, phone, tablet, or other piece of technology.


Here, we're focused on helping students experience field geology through 360 degree photos and 3D models of rocks and fossils.


While these virtual field trips are not meant to replace traditional, boots on the ground trips, they allow students to experience field sites that they otherwise couldn't reach, or can serve as a pre- or post-trip lesson.


These virtual field trips consist of several 360 degree photos which can be rotated so students can see all around them as if they were standing in a particular spot, several close up photos of important geological features, and sometimes 3D models of outcrops or rocks that can be measured.


If you're interested in building some virtual field trips, please contact me!

How do I use Virtual Field Trips?

Virtual field trips can be used either alone or before a traditional field trip. Using them alone allows students to see a field site they wouldn't normally see because it's too far or expensive to reach. They allow instructors to build an activity such as making a strat column or interpreting geologic history, instead of lecturing on the topic.


Using virtual field trips in conjunction with a traditional field trips is an extremely powerful teaching tool. Instructors can show students a field site before they get there so they know what to expect, both in terms of the geology and the conditions. Afterwards, virtual field trips can be used to review or refresh information about the trip. Personally, I feel like my students perform better when I use a virtual field trip before or after a traditional field trip.


Each virtual field trip photo can be rotated with a mouse on a computer or laptop. On a phone, the gyroscope can be used to rotate photos or photos can be dragged with a finger. Clicking or tapping on the camera icon will reveal a close up photo of a feature at that location. Clicking or tapping again will hide the photo.


At the bottom of the page for each virtual field trip are (or will be soon!) lesson plans detailing some ways in which these virtual field trips can be used along with a geologic history describing the general geology of what you are seeing. These are not exhaustive and I'm excited to see how other teachers will use these virtual field trips! Please contact me if you are interested in sharing how you use them!



About me

My name is Dr. Max Christie, I'm a Lecturer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a paleobiologist who has a deep interest in education. I started making virtual field trips after seeing a talk by Ryan Hollister at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in 2017 (see for some of Ryan's work).


My goal with these virtual field trips is to allow students from elementary school to college to experience excellent field geology that they normally wouldn't be able to see themselves.


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Contact Dr. Max Christie


mlc7 (at)