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Online Labs  

Let's discuss ideas for teaching geology labs online!

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I have used a lab manual and kit (rocks, minerals, and topographic map) geared for distance learning (published by Kendall/Hunt) as the starting point for my lab activities for my online Physical Geology course. It has worked out pretty well.

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This post was editted by Kit Pavlekovsky on Jul, 2012
Kelly,
I saw that textbook on your course page
The text is here www.kendallhunt.com/index.cfm?TKN=47066743-19B9-B72C-DDB1FB84A039640A&PID=219&CID=219&CEL=992&PRD=2646

Kelly's course page is here http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/online/courses/46408.html

How is that lab manual different from a f2f manual?

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I use the same lab kit for my environmental science course. Students complain about the cost and the fact that they can't skip ahead during the virtual field trips. About 2/3 of the labs come from the manual and kit. Students don't like the other labs because they require more "thinking" and the use of Excel.

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Does anyone write their own labs for online courses? I write my own labs for my traditional courses because I like the idea that I can change them to fit current topics or to fill in where students are struggling. I do the same for my online envr sci course; however, for physical geology, I find myself struggling at the best way to present it. I looked at Kelly's kit a bit, but I couldn't tell what all was in it (I too saw it listed on your page). I struggle with making students pay for something that we wouldn't use much - it's difficult for me to justify to myself knowing the kind of student I get.

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Mel--You might check out the activity on characterizing plate boundaries that I posted for the workshop. It's derived from Dale Sawyer's "Discovering Plate Boundaries" jigsaw exercise, which I use as the first lab in both Physical Geology and Historical Geology. I think there are probably a fair number of other face-to-face labs out there that could be adapted to an online format, but this is the only one I've tried so far.

Also, I use a couple of the Virtual Courseware projects (River Discharge + River Flooding) as a lab in Physical Geology. The class simply meets in a computer lab that day and the students work through the two exercises in sequence. If students run into problems they'll turn to one another to discuss possible solutions, but the computer generates unique numbers so everyone's exercise is their own. These exercises are already online and--assuming appropriate background is available in your lesson or text--could simply be linked as online labs.

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The lab kit that I use costs about $100, but it comes with rocks, minerals, a loupe, glass plate, streak plate, topographic map, DVD, and a lab manual. Most intro courses have students purchase lab manuals for face to face courses. The lab manual is nice for them to have something to read (not on the computer). The questions are multiple choice (cuts down on questions like ..." what kind of question are you looking for for this question"). I supplement each lab with additional questions, like using the virtual earthquake exercise. I like the idea that the students have pre-labeled rocks and minerals and a topographic map so that it is somewhat comparable to a face-2-face course. Now the DVD is rather out of date and somewhat long.

I think there is a large market out there if someone wants to write a lab manual for online geology courses. :)

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Kelly - I don't think I will have students purchase the lab kit (but it is a great resource - thank you). If I teach phys geol online where I am full time, I will most likely do it as a hybrid (I would have them weekly for lab sessions). However, I will be teaching a similar course as adjunct for another institution. It is only a 3 cr course (ie, without a lab), so I don't know if they would look favorably on having to purchase a lab kit for a class that doesn't have a lab. Hence, my igneous rock identification project is called an 'activity'. I need to figure out some ways to make students learn them without an associated lab - this is my challenge at the moment.

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This post was editted by Kelly Dilliard on Jun, 2010
Mel - as I was working through my assignment our lab workspace I came across an interesting example of identifying rocks and minerals based on photographs by Richard Harwood... I thought I would share (http://facweb.bhc.edu/academics/science/harwoodr/Geol101/study2.htm)

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This post was editted by Aurora Pun on Jun, 2010
Mel- I co-author my own physical geology labs. Many could probably be converted to online (the non-rock/mineral ones). Several ask students to review data and make hazard assessments (such as earthquake or volcanic assessments) within our state.

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Thank you everyone for the ideas!! I have gotten a lot of great ideas and resources from this workshop!! :o)

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I'm interested in any information folks have about teaching topographic maps for online classes. Especially any online resources that allow students to draw topo maps, practice making contours, etc.

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