a Summer School to Create
Virtual Field Trips for Inclusive Field Skill Training

14-19 SEPTEMBER 2023


VFTs for UA Summer School, Vatra Dornei, Romania: Programme

To join the meeting online please use this link to our Google Form and we will send you a Zoom link for the day: Summer School Google Form 

Thursday 14th September

Arrivals in Vatra Dornei.

Friday 15th September

Today’s session has a hybrid format and will be recorded.

TimeSpeaker and topic
10:00 amWelcome from Marcel Mindrescu, Nataliia Popovych and Simon M. Hutchinson as the Summer School organisers.
10:30 amDes McDougall – University of Worcester (UK)
Supporting in-person fieldwork with virtual reality (VR): A beginner’s guide 
11:30 amSimon Hutchinson – University of Salford (UK)
Introduction to ThingLink and getting participants set up/logged in and working – Workshop 1.
12:30 amLunch (1.5 hours)
2:00 pmJana Vojtekova – Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra (Slovakia)
Use of geolocation games in field teaching of geography
2:30 pmGabriela Repaska – Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra (Slovakia)
Use of VR in geography teaching
3:00 pmLynda Yorke – Bangor University (UK)
Using ArcGIS Story maps.
3:30 pm Plenary session

Saturday 16th September

Hybrid sessions 10-11:00 and 1:30-2:30 pm. 

TimeSpeaker and topic
10:00 amSpeakers from 2 Ukrainian universities (Kharkiv (KKNU) and Lviv (IFNU)) (in person with online component)
The situation/problems and experience and adaptations.
11 amLiz Hurrell and Simon Hutchinson
Virtual field trips: storyboarding and pedagogy (workshop type activity).
12:30 pmLunch (1 hour)
1:30 pmSpeakers from 2 Ukrainian universities (Kyiv and Chernivtsi)
The situation/problems and experience and adaptations.
2:30 pmSimon Hutchinson
On site demonstration of using GoPros /Drones (?) /phone apps
3:00 pmField activities
Participants to try out the technology in the local area and start input into ThingLink.
4:00 pmPlenary session and planning for Sunday’s VFT creation.
4:30 pmClose

Sunday 17th September

  1. Within the local area we’ll aim to collectively gather materials to create a Virtual Field Trip examples.
  2. Discuss of the CULTIVATE project booklet (‘10 things’) (Liz Hurrell /Simon M. Hutchinson)
  3. Off site please use you Thinglink account to make your own VFT in / around your home or workplace.

Monday 18th September

Today’s session has a hybrid format and will be recorded.

TimeSpeaker and topic
10:00 amSimon Hutchinson
Introduction to today’s session.
10:15 amVaclav Duffek – University of West Bohemia (Czechia)
Virtual classroom as a simulator for teacher training.
11:00 amJulia Cooke (Trevor Collins, Sarah Davies, Kadmiel Maseyk and Philip Wheeler) – The Open University (UK)
Field casts: Widening access to fieldwork for large numbers of students with interactive live casts.
11:30 amLiz Hurrell – University of York (UK)
Using Google Projects for virtual field trips.
12:30 pmLunch (1 hour)
1:30 pmSimon Hutchinson
Thinglink Workshop 2: feedback and examples from participants. Extra features to enhance virtual field trips. Next steps?
2:30 pmLiz Hurrell and Simon Hutchinson
CULTIVATE project EDI activity.
3:30 pmKatharine Welsh – University of Chester (UK)
Blending Worlds: using mixed reality technologies to enhance fieldwork learning.
4:00 pmFinal summary / next actions
4:30 pmClose

Tuesday 19th September
Departures from Vatra Dornei.

Any questions about the Summer School’s, please contact s.m.hutchinson@salford.ac.uk


Maintaining educational and research activities in Higher Education have become increasingly difficult as a result of the realities of the war in Ukraine. Consequently, Ukrainian universities have turned to their numerous partners across the world for help and have received significant international support.

A key element of the curriculum in Geography and Environmental Science is field work and active learning through field-based training. With a dispersed staff and students learning online in many cases this is currently (and for the foreseeable future) impossible. Teachers in the Geography Departments of several Ukrainian universities have therefore reached out to their European partner universities to share their experience in creating virtual field trips (VFTs). This innovative approach will enhance the learning experience of students in both the short and longer term providing virtual access to a wide range of experiences and locations.

Our Workshop (Summer School) will contribute to the Furthering Science Diplomacy objective of the Central European Initiative Plan of Action in bringing together educators and researchers from a range of universities and institutions: University of Suceava and Geoconcept Association of Applied Geography (Romania) as host, V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (Ukraine), Jagiellonian University, Pedagogical University of Cracow, University of Agriculture in Krakow (Poland), University of West Bohemia (Czechia), Ion Creanga State Pedagogical University of Chisinau (Rep. of Moldova), Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra (Slovakia), Bangor University, University of Chester, the Open University, University of Salford, University of Worchester, University of York (UK) across seven European states to engage in knowledge transfer and sharing.

The Summer School is specifically dedicated to teachers and researchers from Ukraine but also from the states of Central Europe (including Czechia, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Poland, Slovakia).


Though the main objective of the activity is to support Ukrainian geography teachers in Higher Education in order to mitigate the consequences of wartime disruption and maintain the educational activities of their students, other institutions involved will also benefit from this skill development with option to engage online, asynchronously and through the Workshop’s learning materials.


The Workshop (Summer School) will take place in a hybrid (both on-site and online) format allowing online participants unable to leave Ukraine and from other Central and Eastern Europe institutes to also engage.

The registration is free. To register, please, contact the members of the organising committee (see Contacts below).

The conference will bring together leading researchers and experts in the online training of geography students especially creating virtual field trips.

The event will feature keynote lectures from well-respected scientists providing state-of-the-art overviews on topics of core interest.

Summer School is supported by: Central European Initiative, Geoconcept, Royal Geographical Society, CIRC-Fluturica, Carpathian Convention, Science for the Carpathians, Thinglink and all the participating universities.


Marcel MINDRESCU (University of Suceava, Romania) works on environmental geography including current and past climate change, environmental risks (hydrological and geomorphic). He is president of the Geoconcept Association of Applied Geography.

Simon HUTCHINSON (University of Salford, UK) is a geographer with research interests in geomorphology, palaeoscience and expertise in the use of Digital Visualisation Tools to enhance accessibility and inclusion in environmental education. His recent projects developing online resources and Virtual Field Trips (VFTs) as Digital Visualisation Tools (DVTs) include the ViPs Project and two NERC funded projects: CULTIVATE and More Inclusive Fieldwork.

Nataliia POPOVYCH (V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine) is a geographer with research interests in cartography, GIS, spatial planning and sustainable development. Her research background is in providing regional development strategies with thematic maps. Now Nataliia teaches modules on cartography and GIS in Geography at the Department of Physical Geography and Cartography.

Vaclav DUFFEK (University of West Bohemia, Czechia) is a scientific and pedagogical employee at the Department of Geosciences which is part of the Centre of Biology, Geoscience and Environmental Education in the Faculty of Education. He studies mainly glacial geomorphology and paleoclimate in the central European Mountains. He teaches courses on physical geography and deals with an integrating of modern technologies (virtual reality, educational apps, spherical images) into the methodology of teaching geography and also into geography in schools.

Liz HURREL (University of York, UK) is a physical geographer and Associate Lecturer and Programme Lead for Environmental Geography at the University of York and an Associate Lecturer at the Open University. She is particularly passionate about improving Geography education through the creation of inclusive field work and the integration of digital tools to enhance learning. She is an active member of the Virtual Palaeoscience Project (ViPs) and was Co-I on the NERC funded CULTIVATE project. Liz’s research background is in the use of isotopes to reconstruct palaeoenvironments.

Des MCDOUGALL (University of Worcester, UK) is a physical geographer with interests in glaciers and glaciation, mountain geomorphology, and Quaternary environmental change. He enjoys teaching and has particular interests in learning technologies, fieldwork, and virtual reality. An example of the work in this area is the VR Glaciers and Glaciated Landscapes resource, which is used by a growing number of schools, colleges and universities around the world.

Katharine WELSH (University of Chester, UK) is particularly interested in the role of technology to enhance the student learning experience both in fieldwork and classroom environments. Her research has focused on technology enhanced learning, specifically mobile learning, the use of student’s own mobile devices (BYOD), visualisation and blended learning. She is a member of the Advance HE CATE award-winning Enhancing Fieldwork Learning team who formed in 2010.

Lynda YORKE (Bangor University, UK) is a physical geographer. She was the Principal Investigator on the CULTIVATE Project. Lynda is Quaternary geomorphologist, with a principal emphasis on fluvial and pro-glacial histories and sedimentary sequences. She has a strong research interest in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, inclusion and accessibility in environmental science, and the use of virtual technologies to enhance learning.

Julia Cooke (Open University) Fieldcasts: Widening access to fieldwork for large numbers of students with interactive livecasts
Mini-biography: I am a plant functional ecologist with a focus on how plants use silicon.  I taught at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including field teaching. Now I am based at The Open University, UK, where I have been involved in the production of new science modules and pioneering ways of increasing access to field studies for distance education students through remotely-accessed student-led field investigations.

Jana Vojteková is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Regional Development at Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra, Slovakia. Her research interests include didactics of geography, land-use/land-cover changes, and natural hazards assessment with the support of geospatial technologies (GIS, remote sensing, global navigation satellite systems). She teaches the courses on Geographic Information Systems, Digital Technologies in Geography Teaching (focus on virtual reality, augmented reality, mLearning, geo-location games, WebGIS, education apps etc.).

Gabriela Repaská  is a scientific and pedagogical worker in the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Regional Development, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Informatics, Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra, Slovakia. Her research mainly deals with the human geography (the issue of suburbanization, ageing, local identity) and didactics of geography (focusing on microgeography and field research). She teaches the courses on Geographic Information Systems, Demogeography, Geography of cities and rural municipalities, Regional development). Moreover, she solved several projects and she is a member of the Slovak Geographical Society.


Marcel Mindrescu, mindrescu@atlas.usv.ro

Nataliia Popovych, n.popovych@physgeo.com

Simon Hutchinson, s.m.hutchinson@salford.ac.uk


The ‘VFT for UA Initiative’ to support geography student in their studies through online workshop co-creating Virtual Field Trips is described here:



Some of the VFTs students at KKNU created now feature as Geovisualisation resources on the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) website for a global audience:



Distance Education and Long-Life learning Office Vatra Dornei, University of Suceava

Centrul de Pregatire si Formare Continua Vatra Dornei, Universitatea Suceava 

Strada Parcului 2, Vatra Dornei 725700, Suceava county, Romania.
Coordinate: 47.3418816, 25.3574445

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