Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 2:15 PM
USING GIGAPANS AND FIELD PHOTOGRAPHS TO CREATE VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS AS A LEARNING PROJECT IN AN UNDERGRADUATE INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY COURSE
The role of students in many virtual field trips is that of participants in a trip created by others. Here we argue that significant learning also occurs when students are involved as creators of virtual field trips, transforming their field observations into web-accessible products for others to view. We took this approach in an introductory geology class, assigning students a multi-week project to create their own virtual trips. Working in groups of 3-4, students made two field visits to locations on the Maine coast with complex geological relationships (deformed metamorphic rocks with syn- to post-kinematic intrusions). Each group made observations and created hypotheses about the geologic history, taking several dozen field photographs to document evidence. Between and after trips, students annotated these photographs and uploaded them to the image-sharing web site Flickr. Flickr images were merged with a pan-able and zoom-able outcrop image, created by stitching images obtained by a robotic camera mount, on Gigapan.org. These interactive panoramas allow students to revisit their sites virtually, to continue to explore, and to see how their field observations fit into the larger outcrop picture. For each panorama, students created 'snapshots' of selected features, linked to field photographs and annotations. Finally, students groups created oral presentations that summarized the major field relationships and placed them into a larger plate-tectonic framework. Evaluation of outcomes indicates that this approach reinforced concepts learned in class and lab and gave students a clearer idea of the approaches to and limitations of field geology. The web products reflect the efforts of introductory students and, although not of professional quality, also provide an additional resource for others interested in the bedrock geology of the Maine coast.