montage of data-related activities

Cyberinfrastructure: An Opportunity for Enhanced Education in the Geosciences

cyberinfrastructure - infrastructure based upon distributed computer, information and communication technology


The publication of earth science data in electronic format and the archiving of that information in large web-accessible relational databases are some of the more significant and consequential changes to have occurred within the geoscience community during the last decade. The development and rapid expansion of cyberinfrastructure has produced increasingly data-rich, linked networks which open up new possibilities and challenges for using data in geoscience education. The possibilities are as large as the global scale of some of the databases.

While the use of data in geoscience education is gaining widespread support, educators seem to be somewhat divided on the utility of using large online databases. In the course of contacting college instructors about this project, the writer of this website heard a common response: "I'd love to use these databases more in my teaching, but...". Other instructors have invested considerable time and energy in designing ways to integrate these resources into their teaching, but these advances have not been widely disseminated to the larger educational community. For these and a variety of other reasons, cyberinformatic databases are not being widely used by instructors or by students, especially in the form of active learning experiences, in higher education.

What is the purpose of this site?

This site will help college-level educators

  • to appreciate the benefits and challenges of using the newly-emerging cyberinfrastructure in their courses and other educational activities
  • to locate potentially-useful large digital databases, highlighting differing strengths, features, ease of use, and potential educational applications
  • to download, contribute, and comment on examples of how cyberinfrastructure can be applied in a variety of educational settings and activities (e.g., lectures, problem sets, in-class exercises, lab exercises, student research projects, etc.)

This site will enable undergraduate and graduate students

  • to locate and navigate selected online databases, as well as evaluate, screen, and manipulate various types of data available from these sites, many of which were not originally designed with student needs and abilities in mind

Finally, this site will motivate database developers

  • to consider and plan for educational applications and requirements as they expand current databases and create the cyberinfrastructure of the future

This site was written by Kent Ratajeski as part of the DLESE Community Services Project.

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