GEOG 497
3D Modeling and Virtual Reality




This course brings into the classroom the ideas and developments that surround both 3D modeling and immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR). The excitement is universal in academia (for over 30 years on and off) and the private sector (more recently) with the expectation of an 80 billion dollar industry by 2025 according to Goldman Sachs (reported on CNBC). It is fair to assume that the geospatial sciences will never be the same once immersive technologies, everything from Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), Augmented Virtuality (AV), to Virtual Reality, have moved into most people’s living rooms. In the following, we use the term xR or 3D/xR as a combination, to refer to a range of immersive technologies that are available.

Each of the topics that you will encounter in this course could (and is) easily be approached in individual courses! The point of this course is to give students an overview of current developments in 3D modeling and xR that we will keep up-to-date to the best of our abilities, but things are moving and developing fast. Students will encounter some hands-on experience with some of the most versatile and powerful tools for modeling and creating virtual realities such as SketchUp™, Unity3D™, or ArcGIS Pro (not in the residential version). Given the tremendous advancements in 3D modeling and xR that are currently taking place, the course is designed as a timely entry-level course with the goal to give students an understanding of the game-changing nature that recent developments will have for the geospatial sciences. This is an evolving course and any feedback you might have is greatly appreciated.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Define 3D modeling
  • Define Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Augmented Virtuality (AV) (in short: xR)
  • Identify, describe, and classify opportunities for geospatial sciences that are not possible in 2D / on regular desktops
  • Find examples of 360 videos
  • Find examples of 3D models
  • Explain the difference between models and videos
  • Explain the differences between VR, AR, AV, and MR
  • Detail how immersive technologies will change the geographical/spatial sciences

Lesson Roadmap

Lesson Roadmap
To Read
To Do
  • Discussion: Reflection (VR Concepts)
  • Discussion: Application of 3D Modeling
  • Assignment: Product Review
  • Assignment: 3D/VR Project Review


If you have any questions, please post them to our "General and Technical Questions" discussion (not e-mail). I will check that discussion forum daily to respond. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate.