Southeastern Section - 63rd Annual Meeting (10–11 April 2014)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM-5:00 PM


WHITMEYER, Shelley J., Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University, 395 S. High Street, MSC 6903, Harrisonburg, VA 22807,

This poster explores an approach to compiling and disseminating spatial data on an iPad for student use. Utilizing authentic data in the classroom gives students an opportunity to practice scientific decision-making, an important skill for geology majors and non-science majors. Using authentic data in introductory classes can be challenging because it is often in a format that is not user-friendly. This is especially true of spatial data. Spatial data has a particular importance in the geosciences and is unique compared to many data formats that students have experience with in other subjects.

Today technology and content can be merged to create a user-friendly platform to share spatial data. Combining ArcGIS and the iPad through ArcGIS Online and the ESRI app seamlessly transfers spatial data compiled on your computer to your students. This allows you to develop inquiry-based assignments aimed at improving student’s scientific reasoning and spatial visualization. The data may be yours or you can take advantage of the plethora of free online spatial data.

Most students are intimately familiar with smartphone and tablet technologies. The techniques they use repetitively in their day-to-day lives can be helpful in the classroom. The iPad offers simple, free apps that take advantage of the students ability to zoom, pan, and toggle between screens. These skills allow students to easily navigate spatial data in an environment they are familiar with. The ESRI app provides tools to measure distance and area and identify and query features. These tools allow students to investigate many different themes. The integration of pop-up dialogue boxes with hyperlinks integrates data from any other online source. In-class actives using tablet technologies allow students to access resources outside the classroom. The iPads are easier to transport into the classroom than laptops. And, with more students having the tablets, the burden of supplying the hardware is decreasing.

  • 2014 Whitmeyer GSA Poster.pdf (8.3 MB)