TEACHING GEOSCIENCE ONLINE
Geoscience courses are very different to, say, algebra or physics, and they present unique challenges to the online instructor. Chief among these are the inability to provide students with field experiences, to provide them hand specimens to examine, or to let them gather around a large paper map. However, there are advantages to the online course delivery mode. Students on virtual field trips can go lots of places, including some which are physically or temporally impossible to visit otherwise. Virtual field experiences also allow for pre-trip exploration and post-trip reflection/repetition. We have developed a number of useful technologies including innovative gigapans. Hand specimens used to require either onsite visits, cumbersome postal arrangements, or expensive 3D scanners, but 123D Catch has opened new possibilities. In addition, our research-grow phase developed logging and auto-scoring exercises in which the computer tracks students mouse clicks and keystrokes. This provides machine-gradable geoscience exercises to be developed, overcoming yet another challenge for online instruction.