Bringing Polar Landscapes into the College Classroom Using 360-degree Interactive Environments

Friday 2:30pm-2:50pm Bruininks 131B
Teaching Demonstration Part of Friday Teaching Demos


Emily Geraghty Ward, University of Colorado at Boulder
Twila Moon, University of Colorado at Boulder
Spruce Schoenemann, The University of Montana-Western
Alia Khan, Western Washington University
Anne Gold, University of Colorado at Boulder
Daniela Pennycook, University of Colorado at Boulder
Alyssa Lazoen, University of Colorado at Boulder
Yixiao Lei, University of Colorado at Boulder


Participants will explore one (or more) of the 360 IEs and work through select prompts that are part of the student activity. Participants will need to bring their own laptops in order to view the 360 Interactive Environments.


In this teaching demonstration, participants will have the chance to engage with 360-degree interactive environments (360 IE) that explore the polar environments of Greenland. We will discuss how the 360 IEs were designed using data and insights from NSF-funded polar research expeditions to Greenland and tested with students to optimize their usability. We will spend time working through an example 360 IE so that participants have the opportunity to experience them as their students would and finish up the session discussing how the IEs address specific learning outcomes like enhanced geospatial skills and development of a sense of polar place. We will finish the session with a discussion of how the IEs were considered in the design of embedded assessments that align with these student outcomes.


The 360 IEs are part of a larger curriculum - the PolarPASS curriculum (which stands for Polar Places and Spaces) - that is designed to transport students into polar environments. The curriculum is composed of modules that use a combination of 360 IEs, Geographic Information System (GIS) tools, and other materials to provide students with authentic scientific data and to immerse them in the field experience. GIS activities are designed for use with QGIS, a free software package available for all computer operating systems, and QGreenland, a free GIS data package. The curriculum modules include instructions that assume educators do not have previous experience with these GIS tools. PolarPASS modules are ideal for use in upper division geoscience and environmental science classes.

Why It Works

Learning activities are designed to enhance students' geospatial skills and support development of a sense of polar place, even without traveling to these exciting environments. Developed by a team of professional educators and polar scientists, PolarPASS provides a unique curriculum to link your classroom to the poles. Authentic geoscience data allows students to step into the scientific discovery role. Carefully designed activities for inquiry challenge students to make connections across the polar systems and linking to global changes in climate.