Maria Harrington, an Assistant Professor at Slippery Rock University, is working on the development of 3D, high fidelity virtual experiences in which people learn by entering a virtual environment. Her company, Virtual Field Trips LLC offers “simulations for exploration, discovery, and intrinsic learning designed for the young child in all of us.” Public schools qualify for the company’s educational license.
Harrington’s first field trip features the Trillium Trail, an area in Fox Chapel, PA. Students at the O’Hara Elementary School in Fox Chapel piloted the program. With the software, they took off on the virtual trail learning as they went while enjoying a scientifically accurate 360-degree view of their surroundings. Armed by the learning they gained on their virtual trip, the students hiked the trail in real life. According to those who have experienced “Trillium Trail”, it is like “walking into a painting” and others say it is “more real than real.”