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

Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 5:15 PM


DILEONARDO, Christopher G., Geology and Oceanography Departments and Earth Imaging and Digital Mapping Center, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022, dileonardo@admin.fhda.edu

Textbooks have played a historically important role in undergraduate coursework. These books commonly fulfill the dual function of companion reader for the course and primary reference for study, projects and exam preparation. Motivating undergraduates to complete reading assignments and utilize the course textbook is a major issue facing educators across disciplines. In introductory geoscience courses, the need is particularly great given the technical nature of the curriculum and the challenge of dealing simultaneously with new concepts and vocabulary. Increasingly, students are neglecting reading assignments altogether. Additionally, students are turning to online resources as a primary reference, foregoing the textbook. With a student population more and more accustomed to using the internet as a primary research tool, traditional textbooks are becoming less relevant to the common undergraduate.

To meet the specific needs for an introductory geosicence course, an online course reader was developed during collection efforts for the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE). This effort, funded by NSF, resulted in the creation of The Introductory Geoscience Virtual Textbook (http://crs.dlese.org/testbed/Textbook/) as an ancillary product. Much of the collection and resources used in the virtual textbook are a subset of the larger DLESE collection. The organization of this online course reader parallels a textbook, arranging resources as chapters accessed through a table of contents. This digital anthology leverages the existing resources of the world-wide-web forming a network of dynamic resources that can keep current with changes in the science in ways that traditional textbooks cannot. Many of the resources included as chapters in the virtual textbook are interactive and searchable. This resource also features interactive appendices, geologic glossaries, map building tools and links to searchable collections of DLESE and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). The Introductory Geoscience Virtual Textbook acts as a model for the development of other online course readers for undergraduate earth science courses.