DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLICATION OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR TEACHING FIELD GEOLOGY
The digital field geology (DFG) system will improve the entire field geology mapping process from "field-to-publish" by integrating state-of-art technologies and, where necessary, developing both hardware and software enhancements. The DFG system will be easy-to-use, perform automated wireless functions that closely emulate and complement the traditional field work methods, provide simple software "smart" tools for use in the field that will aid those processes, and, finally, expedite and facilitate the translation of the field data to a digitized map. In addition, this system will be designed to appeal to and would be appropriate for a diverse, non-geologic student population.
Current educational digital field systems are limited by their technological state-of-art and their particular methods of implementation. As an improved alternative, the DFG system will incorporate hardware and software advances such as wireless, hand-held devices (e.g. PDAs), voice input, lightweight screens, and networks links to access more powerful computers remotely. What is innovative about the DFG system and its distinctive technical achievement is its integration of the latest technologies within a distributed-type architectural design and, in combination, these technological advances will greatly enhance the traditional field mapping process at the university level.
We have already conducted an initial test of the DFG system during our January 2002 field camp (see Niemi et al., this volume). While the results of this test were generally favorable, we still have much more work to do. Our focus in advance of next January's field camp will be to improve, develop, or investigate the following: 1) better screen displays; 2) voice recognition software; 3) wireless transfer; 4) more user-friendly software interfaces; and 5) a digital geologists' compass.