Towards Development and Online Deployment of Virtual Rocks and Minerals for Teaching and Learning

Friday 3:00pm-4:00pm Beren Auditorium
Poster Session Part of Friday Poster Session

Session Chairs

Scott Brande, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Patrick McDaniel, University of Alabama at Birmingham
In a recent review of the technology for creating and deploying three-dimensional models of geological objects, De Paor (2016) emphasized the diversity of applications in research and learning. However, in the laboratory setting for undergraduate geoscience courses, pedagogical objectives place constraints on the use of digital rocks, minerals, and other materials designed for teaching and learning. For example, what image quality and resolution is needed for a student to critically observe and identify properties of limestones needed for identifying the rock by name and interpreting an ancient environment? How can digital resources be deployed and promote learning objectives that incorporate observation, exploration, and analysis, among others. These pedagogical considerations make the creation of 3D models of geoscience specimens a greater challenge than simply a matter of photography and computer processing.
The creation of 3D models of typical laboratory specimens of rocks and minerals for teaching and learning requires significant hardware and software resources. We have assembled the necessary resources and are building an archive of 3D models of rock and mineral specimens for teaching and learning in geoscience. We will demonstrate how we have begun to explore the use of 3D models in a face-to-face introductory physical geology laboratory course for non-science majors.
We believe the greater challenge the geoscience education community faces is based in questions of pedagogy. For example, what should students be expected to understand from exposure to 3D digital models? How can technology be exploited to enhance the student's online experience removed from the traditional physical contact with rock and mineral specimens?
Collections of our 3D models are available to the geoscience education community. Perhaps our growing archive will provide resources that address these, and other, questions about geoscience teaching and learning in a digital environment.

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