GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 192-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


MAHMOOD, M. Qasim, College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of the Punjab, Lahore, 0000, Pakistan and SPENCER, Christopher J., School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Curtin University, Kent Street, Perth, 6102, Australia

The role of field methods and experience is considered crucial in the training of geoscience students. However, students often struggle with physical, financial, social, and political barriers to participate in the fieldwork. In the past decade, field educators have carried out various efforts to employ virtual field experience with students to improve inclusion. This study describes a novel method of creating Live Virtual Field Tours (LVFTs) on a social media website and demonstrates how LVFTs can be designed and curated to engage students from diverse backgrounds.

Social media is an effective outreach tool to educate people and build audience. The live broadcasting feature has significantly increased interactivity that can be utilised to increase audience engagement. Using our outreach page on Facebook, we developed a new outreach approach to provide students a live virtual field experience. 15 LVFTs were broadcasted live from a diverse range of geological regions across the world including Kek Lok Tong Cave, Grand Canyon, Mount Hood and Kilauea Volcano. We use website metrics to quantify engagement. The analysis performed on the metrics of LVFTs show broad interest of students and significance of having such an interactive outreach approach. The comparative analysis of LVFTs and Virtual Field Tours (VFTs) reveal that how LVFTs are better than VFTs to engage students for a virtual field experience.

LVFTs could prove to be inexpensive (effectively free if incorporated into pre-existing field courses) and provide an easy pathway to participate, manage, and run. Unlike VFTs, LVFTs provide students the ability to interact in real-time, the possibility to communicate with field educator and the advantage of having minimal technical assistance requirement. Our examples are a model for more inclusive methods for field engagement in the geosciences.