GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 67-15
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


VILLALOBOS, Joshua and SWOPE, Samantha, Geological Sciences, El Paso Community College, 10700 Gateway East, El Paso, TX 79927,

One of the biggest challenges in education is conveying the connection between what is taught in the classroom to what is seen in the real word. This problem is particularly challenging in the geosciences where lectures and hand samples often do not convey the scope of the geological information a particular outcrop or region may possess. Students taking online classes are at an even greater disadvantage due to the lack of access to classroom specimens or lab samples that may illustrate a fundamental concept or idea. This lack of interaction between what is learned and what is observed can lead students to a lack of interest in the geosciences or a misunderstanding of the role geosciences play in society. This issue is often compounded by the fact that many two-year colleges do not have the resources to conduct these formative field trips that bridge the classroom to the field. With the advent of low cost high resolution photography and 3D software; getting student to experience the true scope of a field site has become less challenging. By providing these resources to our students, who may otherwise not be able to go to the field due to either personal or institutional limitations, it allows them to explore sites and samples that they would otherwise not be able to experience. Located in West Texas, El Paso hosts a wide range of spectacular geological outcrops and formations that offer local students an outdoor laboratory to explore concepts taught in their geology classes. Being able to fully utilize these natural educational resources can be difficult for instructors with heavy class loads or a lack of transportation resources. El Paso Community College (EPCC) has utilized both high resolution photography and 3D models to help ensure that students can make these fundamental educational and real world connections. GigaPans and 3D models of local sites and samples were captured as part of individual student projects at EPCC and posted to EPCC’s geology website where instructors and students can access background information and data for each sites. The material was then utilized in curriculum for both face to face and online introductory courses as well as for pre-trip exercises for geological field method courses taught at EPCC.