2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
Paper No. 25-12
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM

MOBILE TECHNOLOGY AS A TOOL FOR ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING IN GEOSCIENCES

MATSON, Samuel D. and VISKUPIC, Karen, Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, 1910 University Drive, Boise, ID 83725-1535, sammatson@boisestate.edu

Incorporation of mobile technology into the post-secondary classroom is becoming increasingly common as universities seek to facilitate active, student-centered learning through rapid access to information, connect students with course content through social media, and evaluate digital alternatives to conventional instructor-student interaction. The m-Learning Scholars Program at Boise State University was initiated during the 2010 – 2011 academic year, and provides a venue for exploring the potential of mobile technology to enhance student learning in the geosciences. Through this program, 38 students in an introductory Earth History course for non-geoscience majors each purchased a subsidized handheld device (iPod touch) that they used in the lecture and laboratory portions of this Spring 2011 course. Largely in response to the results of that exploratory initiative, 14 tablet devices (iPad 2) will be integrated into the lab curriculum for two introductory courses (Fundamentals of Geology; Global Environmental Science; ca. 550 students total) during the Fall 2011 semester.

Preliminary results indicate that mobile devices provide students access to dynamic course content and are a valuable tool for active learning, but the devices (especially handheld) are limited in comparison to more expensive traditional computers. Basic spreadsheet, statistical, and graphing applications provide much of the same functionality as a desktop spreadsheet program although data must be exchanged between multiple applications. In the classroom, handheld devices were a versatile alternative to audience response hardware (“clickers”), but their small screen size was a severe limitation to browser-based in-class activities. The portability of the mobile devices made them very useful for field-based lab activities in which students assessed and modified experimental design in response to their real-time analysis of new data. Most applications were best suited for classroom use with access to a wireless network (e.g., Blackboard, Google Earth, Measure Map, EarthObserver), but some allowed data and/or maps to be downloaded in advance for use in any setting (e.g., Topo Maps, Geology ID). Other applications were useful as alternatives to traditional field tools (e.g., TiltMeter, iGeoLog).

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 25--Booth# 12
Geoscience Education (Posters) I
Minneapolis Convention Center: Hall C
9:00 AM-6:00 PM, Sunday, 9 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 77

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