2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 93-13
Presentation Time: 11:20 AM


DE PAOR, Declan G.1, WHITMEYER, Steve2, BENTLEY, Callan3, BURGIN, Stephen1 and COBA, Filis1, (1)Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, (2)James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, (3)Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale, VA 22003, ddepaor@odu.edu

Geoscience is the science of place—it’s the study of how places change through time. Unfortunately the number of places that an individual geoscience student can visit in person is extremely limited. We therefore proposed to create a tour of the most important places, times, and events that every geoscientist should know about and visit—at least in virtual reality. Using Google Earth, students can experience a rich virtual field experience supported by text, imagery (including field photos, GigaPans, and Photo Spheres), and models (including virtual specimens and outcrops). Our geode.net website will permit colleagues to contribute tour content and evaluate one another’s contributions. Based in part on feedback from colleagues at previous meetings, we have grouped tours under an initial matrix of nine headings:
• Plates and Plumes • Rocks and Regions • Geology through Time
• The Mapping Challenge • National Parks • Magical Mystery Tour
• Resources and Hazards • Planets and Moons • Most Popular

We implemented a Mars Tour for the first time in Spring 2014. Students in thirteen 32-person lab sections were given either a Google Mars tour with text and images in placemark balloons, or identical text and images in a PDF document. In one smaller (approx. 12-student) honors section, there was time for students to do both.

Preliminary impressions based on informal classroom observations are that students using Google Earth were more engaged in peer discussion and exploration whereas students reading the PDF interacted mainly to enquire whether it was time to scroll down the document. In the the honors section, some students expressed boredom with the PDF version but others were somewhat overwhelmed by the interactive assignment and expressed a preference for the less demanding PDF document.

We conclude that creating interactive tours on Google Earth is worth the effort but that students need to be proficient in basic navigation in order to maximize the benefit.

  • 2014_GSA_Tour.pdf (28.2 MB)