GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 52-3
Presentation Time: 1:50 PM


BURSZTYN, Natalie, Quest University, 3200 University Blvd, Squamish, BC V8B0N8, Canada

Geoscience educators have long considered field trips to be the best way of drawing students into the discipline, however they are often not possible in high-enrollment introductory geoscience courses. With recent advances in mobile technology, a diversity of learners can benefit by visually and even physically interacting with virtual representations of the real world. Over the last decade these types of interactive virtual or augmented reality experiences have been increasing in abundance and quality within STEM fields. Grand Canyon Expedition (GCX) was launched in 2012 as a series of 3 apps to teach introductory geoscience concepts through augmented reality field trips, and Yosemite: A Story of Fire & Ice was launched in 2019 through TravelStorys GPS as a roadside geology educational tour for visitors in Yosemite National Park.

This presentation synthesizes lessons learned from the development of these two different augmented reality GPS-based geoscience education apps. From the generation of app content to working with developers to the development of assessment instruments, this form of educational technology is dependent on strong collaboration teams. From an assessment of educational efficacy perspective, significant academic gains have not been found from the use of virtual or augmented reality field trips. However discipline-based education researchers continue to show that such pedagogical tools increase student engagement, especially in the absence of availability or access to “real” field trips. Using the pedagogical perspective on mobile-learning as a framework for qualitative research methods, we are able to identify distinct patterns of positive outcomes from the experiences of GCX participants. The framework emphasizes three significant qualities that occur within the time and place of the learning activity: personalization, collaboration, and authenticity. This structure helps to explain and situate student free response feedback, as well as providing a framework for assessing Yosemite visitor use experience with the digital roadside geology tour. Geoscience learners everywhere are constrained by geography, including the confines of a car on a road trip, so we view this type of digital experience as the accessible open window to learning how to see the world more like a geoscientist.