3-D MODELING OF GEOLOGICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SAMPLES FOR ONLINE AND DISTANCE LEARNING
Recent advances in 3-D imaging and modeling software have brought geoscience educators to a vantage point wherefrom they can now create compelling, interactive models of rocks, minerals and fossils. Today such advancements translate to easy and cost-effective production of remarkably life-like, 3-D samples that can be accessed anytime and anywhere by students with average internet download speeds. While several 3-D modeling software and hardware packages exist, we chose to work with Agisoft PhotoScan and Sketchfab to create and host 3-D models. These 3-D models consist of mineral, rock, fossil samples and archaeological artifacts. In this paper we shall present best-practices which can then be adopted and adapted by other educators to create with.
We chose samples that were part of our introductory-level geology labs with the goal of allowing students to interact with samples online with a high level of realism and information via informative annotations. This paper will showcase which samples are best suited for rendering as 3-D models. We will present a basic and efficient workflow for producing these models that can be easily adopted by other users without feeling bogged-down and overwhelmed by the numerous, highly-specialized options embedded within the software. These models can then be interacted with online in a variety of ways, including zooming in and out, rotating the sample, reading text annotations, along with a zoom-enabled scale.
In reality, students may not have enough time to familiarize themselves with hand samples and this 3-D online approach alleviates this problem. By giving students the ability to observe and interact with visual information, students can learn and engage from a distance. This can be vital in the development of beginner geology and archaeology courses as well as for online distance education.