Paper No. 115-4
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM
VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS IN GOOGLE EARTH AS A TOOL TO PROVIDE LOCAL CONTEXT FOR INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY STUDENTS
In both the online and traditional teaching environments, connecting geologic materials and properties of geology to students’ daily lives often can be a challenging task. Furthermore, recent circumstances have severely limited the opportunities for students to see and interact with geology in the field as part of structured in-course experiences. To better engage students with course materials, and to provide opportunities for students to explore and analyze relevant examples of geologic materials and principles close to their homes, virtual field trips are being created using the web-based version of Google Earth for introductory geology courses; these are currently being piloted in online class sections this fall term. These virtual trips are built with a focus on features of the geology local to our campus in Orange County, California. Each activity is self-contained and synthesizes important earth science concepts, such as rock cycle processes, natural hazards, and landscape development. Students interact with the materials by piloting between virtual “stops” in the trip, making measurements, examining attached images and photos, and watching embedded videos produced by the instructor on visits to the area. Supporting text at each stop orients students to guide their observations and poses questions students must address as they complete the field exercise. The virtual field trips also provide a way to bring students to local features that are accessed by longer hikes or are in more dangerous terrain than an introductory class would typically visit. The design of the exercises supports multiple styles of assessment. Assessment can be formative, for example based on digital “field notes” taken during the trip. Alternatively, learning goals can be more formally assessed via quiz questions or submitted student worksheets. An example trip will be shared with session participants.