At UTS we’re pretty big on real-world learning experiences for our students, but what do you do when you need a crime scene? Well, with the help of immersive 360 technologies, you can create a virtual one.
During the Summer of 2019, Anna Wood from the Centre for Forensic Science at UTS began developing a new subject for the Master of Forensic Science program, Crime Scene Investigation & Management. During the planning, Anna hatched the idea of creating an interactive crime scene to further enhance the learning experience for her students. Before working at UTS, Anna had 15 years of experience as a police crime scene examiner.
I had seen interactive crime scenes many years ago, but hadn’t been impressed with the level of detail or difficulty. I wanted my students to have a realistic experience that tested their skills of observation, and allowed them to demonstrate their disciplinary knowledge and critical thinking to process a crime scene.Anna Wood
Enter the Postgraduate Learning Design Media Team
Anna teamed up with the Postgraduate Learning Design Media team, who had recently added 360-degree video to their production services repertoire. To create an immersive learning experience that could deliver on Anna’s vision, the team of video, digital design and interactive specialists planned and designed what would become the 360-degree interactive crime scene investigation.
The crime scene interactive features a blend of 360 high-definition photography layered with bespoke interactivity, giving students the opportunity to explore a simulated crime scene in a virtual teaching environment. After months of development and iterations, the team is preparing to launch the interactive for students this spring session.
Collaborating with the PGLD media team, we have been able to develop an interactive that is both challenging and fun.Anna Wood
Setting the (crime) scene
Students arrive at the scene: a dark dingy alley behind a bustling inner-city night club. A 23-year-old male is found dazed and confused with a head laceration. The man is heavily intoxicated and has no memory of the incident. The offender has fled the scene and the victim is on his way to hospital. It is now up to the students to survey the area for any clues that have been left behind.
The student experience
Clipboards in hand students scour the 360 environment, on the lookout for any type of hazard. Once the risks have been mitigated and it is deemed safe to proceed, students search the scene and compile a list of potential evidence items. When the exhibits have been collected, it’s time to check for fingerprints; students hunt out surfaces suitable for the application of fingerprint powders. Finally, the students make a detailed sketch of the scene and plot the items of interest that they have identified.
One of the greatest strengths of interactive 360-degree media in an educational setting is its ability to place students in simulated real world environments, allowing access to places and situations ordinarily out of reach. In the COVID-19 world we are living through; these kind of virtual learning environments are more valuable than ever.
Anna and the PGLD media team already have plans for more 360 interactive projects in the future.
I would like to develop many other interactive forensic modules, potentially allowing the expansion of UTS’ forensic program online.Anna Wood