Participatory research on using virtual reality to teach ocean acidification: a study in the marine education community
Ocean Acidification (OA) is an emerging environmental issue that is still largely unknown to the public and in its infancy in terms of educational strategies. OA teaching material should address the specific challenges that educators face while building learners’ understanding of OA. The objective of this study is two-fold. First, we identified the barriers to teaching OA as experienced by formal and informal marine educators. Second, we provided educators an opportunity to experience virtual reality and discuss how it could serve as a tool for face-to-face and distance learning to address the identified challenges. The findings shed light on four overarching themes of challenges to teaching OA: lack of science literacy, unprepared education field, complex and invisible nature of OA and lack of personal connection with the ocean. Marine educators consider empowerment, perspective-taking and visualization as the three principal avenues through which virtual reality may contribute to mitigating the challenges to teaching OA.