2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


THOMPSON, Kirsten1, KEITH, Jeffrey2, SWAN, Richard H.3 and HAMBLIN, W. Kenneth1, (1)Department of Geology, Brigham Young University, S389 ESC, Provo, UT 84602, (2)Geology, Brigham Young Univ, Brighan Young University, S-371 ESC, Provo, UT 84602, (3)Center for Instructional Design, Brigham Young University, 3800 HBLL, Provo, UT 84602, kirsten_thompson@byu.edu

The tools and methods for teaching visual aspects of the geosciences are growing more technologically complex. We are responding to this digital movement by incorporating the best new tools in our courses and on our website. Our department has hundreds of high-resolution aerial panoramas of Utah geology that clearly illustrate important geological processes and landforms. To maximize the utility of these photos, we are developing an area of our department website to showcase these unusual panoramas. Google Earth will be combined with these photos so users can “fly” in and around the photographed site and understand the broader context of its location, structure and geomorphology. Each photo page will also include content such as questions for students and links to current research being done in that location. The geological context and 3-D aspects of this combination are more powerful than either would be alone. As we use these in teaching our introductory courses, in conjunction with inquiry-based learning programs, both the tools and the geology can be taught more completely and effectively.

Additionally, we build on this background in our sophomore-level Geological Communications course by showing students how to create their own content using the latest professional software and tools. Students in this project-based course learn important design elements and skills in capturing and editing photos and drawing effective illustrations. Programs taught include Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and Arc GIS and student projects include publishable index and geologic maps, cross-sections and photos. Students publish their work on their own websites and blogs, which they learn how to create during this course.

Student feedback indicates that these skills are some of the most important they learn in our program. They report that they use the tools and skills learned in this course on a daily basis as they complete their remaining undergraduate major and even non-major courses. Teaching these tools so early in our program maximizes the benefit to every other course in our curriculum.