Technology for Teaching Geoscience Onsite and Online

Wednesday 3:15pm REC Center Large Ice Overlook Room
Oral Presentation Part of Digital Geology and Visualization


Declan De Paor, Old Dominion University
Steve Whitmeyer, James Madison University
Callan Bentley, Piedmont Virginia Community College
The GEODE Team, Multiple Institutions
Geoscientists face challenges when it comes to teaching with technology. Although our discipline is highly visual, it is also very physical and tactile. We traditionally map geological contacts on foot, record field observations with pencil and notebook, split specimens with geological hammers or recover cores from ocean drilling, view thin sections with a petrographic microscope, and draw stereographic projections of structural orientations on a tracing overlay. For most geoscientists, digital technologies are recent additions to a toolkit of skills built upon analogue field and lab methods.

Today's students are digital natives. They were born after the iMac and grew up with Web 2.0 and its plethora of social media. They tend to think differently because the use of mobile devices changes students' learning styles and preferences. Instead of instructing students to turn off devices in class and concentrate—which for many young people may be an impossible demand—we can leverage technology to enhance geoscience education and teach our very different students in very non-traditional ways.

In this talk, we review recent innovations in digital mapping and cartography, virtual specimens, educational games and challenges, geo-data mining, and authentic undergraduate research experiences. Highlights include: crowd-sourced mapping; onsite and remote student partnerships via smart glasses (whilst the Google Glass Explorer program is over, there is an explosion of smart glasses development); augmented reality in the field using FreshAiR for context-aware mobile learning; "Viewmaster" virtual field trips via Poppy3D; Google Earth for structural analysis and tectonic reconstructions; COLLADA models for global studies; and geological applications of Street View, Photo Spheres, and GigaPans. We also discuss digital course management and student-instructor interaction.

GEODE senior personnel include: Heather Almquist, Stephen Burgen, Cinzia Cervato, Gene Cooper, Mladen Dordevic, Janice Gobert, Paul Karabinos, Terry Pavlis, Jen Piatek, Bill Richards, Jeff Ryan, Ron Schott, Kristen St. John, and Barb Tewksbury.