2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 4:30 PM


THOMAS, Christopher W., Department of Geology, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), 723 W. Michigan St. SL 118, Indianapolis, IN 46202, chwthoma@iupui.edu

The use of websites and media to convey information is now a pervasive feature of geoscience institutions and departments. Yet, many institutions fail to properly integrate web resources into education or to provide the most valuable information within public websites. Organizations must work as a team and take the viewpoint of their audience to design a successful website or learning tool; designing around internal organizational boundaries or internal stakeholder viewpoints can be problematic. This session will showcase successful examples of online design.

In the classroom, using a publisher's or self-designed animations can greatly improve understanding of basic concepts. Coordinating the design of animations and web media using partnerships among agencies or sharing of resources through DLESE can reach more people, ensure technical accuracy, and reduce development costs. Most institutions now have media centers integrated into the classroom and online course management systems; faculty should be expected to integrate video, web interaction, and media pieces to help reach student's different learning styles. For online courses, custom designed lectures/modules can localize and personalize geosciences to improve relevancy towards students.

Organizational websites (museums, private and government agencies) directed towards the public need to answer the questions visitors most often ask, maintain freshness, and provide a unified message about the science or organization. In some cases, websites do not answer basic questions the public may have about the local natural resources/geologic history, items of general interest (global warming, earthquakes), or items of specific concern (pollution, waste disposal). A departmental website can be the most overlooked resource for recruitment of undergraduate and graduate students. The site must generate excitement and interest and be seen as a marketing tool with clear and specific examples of what geology is, the type of research possible, and profiles of successful students. Introductory courses should be described in detail, beyond what is listed in campus bulletins, in order to attract new students into geosciences. Fresh departmental updates and activities will keep alumni connected within the program and tie into other marketing pieces.