Physical Geology Lab Resource Online –Mineral Identification

Tuesday 3:10pm-3:30pm TSU - Humphries: 221
Teaching Demonstration Part of Tuesday Teaching Demos


Scott Brande, University of Alabama at Birmingham


Website access will be provided. Examples of use on laptops and cellphones. Examples of how observation of website media can be integrated with learning objectives typically restricted to the face-to-face environment. A feedback form will be provided for participants to help modify website content for the broader community.


Digital media of minerals and rocks are increasingly available in online environments. However, the mere availability of these resources does not address a number of critical pedagogical issues: Are the resources optimized for learning through different client devices? How should online resources be integrated into the instructor's existing course? What are the instructor's learning objectives, and are they achievable?
I created a website for the student to study unidentified minerals through text, images and short videos of typical tests (e.g., Mohs hardness, streak, acid reaction, etc.) that students would otherwise perform by handling physical samples. Observing video tests engages student attention required for interpretation of results needed for mineral identification.
My primary motivation is to provide online resources for students who miss a face-to-face laboratory session. An additional motivation is to foster discussion within the geoscience education community to clarify and address unresolved pedagogical issues (above) and to provide alternative pathways for teaching and learning the identification of minerals.
The website is designed as building block or tool instructors may use in different ways to accommodate different learning objectives. The website may also be useful for the teaching of mineral identification only in the online environment.


As a supplement to the face-to-face laboratory study of mineral identification, as an off-campus, online resource for study after lab and in preparation for a follow-up quiz, and for students who miss lab but who still need to prepare responses for alternative laboratory credit.

Why It Works

New media I created provide most of the information a student would otherwise experience manipulating mineral samples in lab. Although watching videos online is not equivalent to manipulating and testing a physical sample (e.g., Mohs hardness, streak), the cognitive core in mineral identification happens after observation – evaluating test results against reference materials. Online video tests may therefore provide an alternative pathway for students to engage, interpret and integrate information needed for the mineral identification process.
Construction of this online resource in the new Google Sites is particularly easy, with a critical benefit that the streaming of content is automatically responsive (reformatted) according to the client device. No programming is necessary to accommodate the diversity of student hardware.
This experimental website may serve as a focus for discussing numerous pedagogical issues in online learning in general. Any consensus reached with this website may then be applied to the construction of similar formats for the study and identification of the other "material" labs in physical geology - igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.

Presentation Media

Mineral ID Lab Data Form (Acrobat (PDF) 338kB Jul17 19)

Presentation Media

Mineral Identification Lab Handout (Acrobat (PDF) 855kB Jul17 19)

Presentation Slides (Acrobat (PDF) 1.7MB Jul16 19)