[CESElist] GSA session: Virtual fieldwork in Earth system science education

Robert M Ross rmr16 at cornell.edu
Mon Jul 2 14:38:25 MDT 2007

Hi folks --

We welcome submissions to the Denver GSA topical session (#132) on
"virtual fieldwork." We are looking for innovative new ways to get
inquiry-based teaching about real-world Earth system science into the
classroom when you can't get the class into the field. More info below.

As many of you know, the GSA abstract deadline is a week away (the 10th).

Happy July 4th,
Rob Ross and Don Duggan-Haas


Virtual fieldwork in Earth system science education

At the upcoming Geological Society of America meeting in Denver there will
be a special topical session on "virtual fieldwork." This oral session
will bring together presentations on innovative uses of images, video,
specimens, and other information from the field to create inquiry-based
experiences in the classroom. If you will be at GSA and have done work in
this area, please consider submitting an abstract to the session.

Abstracts are due next Tuesday, July 10th. Go to
http://www.geosociety.org/ and, under the words "2007 Annual Meeting,"
click on "Submit an Abstract." Then click on "TOPICAL SESSIONS" and scroll
down to session 132.

If you have questions please contact me at rmr16 at cornell.edu or Don
Duggan-Haas as dugganhaas at gmail.com.

Below is the formal description of the session:

Innovative, Inquiry-Based Approaches that Bring the Field into the
Classroom: Moving from Virtual Tour to Virtual Fieldwork

Sponsor: GSA Geoscience Education Division

     Field experiences are widely valued as essential to geoscience
education, yet in secondary school and college classes logistical
issues often get in the way of getting students to real world sites,
even locally. In the past decade technology has been used to bring
the field into the classroom through creation of virtual “tours” or
virtual “field trips” – increasingly sophisticated techniques for
presenting images from a field area to illustrate Earth science
concepts. In this second decade of the Internet Age we are beginning
to see signs of creation of technology-based techniques that promote
the sort of exploration, inquiry-based discussion, and problem
solving that students would experience if they were actually in the
field. This is more akin to “virtual fieldwork.”

     The evolution to this second phase partly represents accumulation of
educational research, which indicates that the most effective science
education involves students in authentic research-like inquiry,
discussion, and analysis of real-world data. The vast majority of
available virtual field trips are, however, relatively passive
experiences for students, and there exists much room for development
of virtual field experiences that replicate the real thing. We
emphasize a pedagogical shift from teachers pointing things out to
students figuring things out.

     Technology has in recent years provided outstanding new opportunities
to undertake virtual field trips and share them in new ways,
fostering opportunities to create more interactive, open-ended
approaches to virtual field trips. For example, pictures and videos
are now ubiquitous and inexpensive. Broadband internet and
videoconferencing enables real-time discussions between teachers or
classes about local field sites. The potential will soon exist for
many to broadcast live from the field to the classroom and to allow
students to operate cameras remotely. Moreover, it is now possible to
combine the best of two worlds: using field images and specimens
together with satellite images and data.

     One of the essential goals in geoscience education is empowering
students to interpret the places they encounter in their lives, and
thus helping educators to achieve these goals with their students.
This session will be devoted to presentation of innovative
pedagogical and technological approaches to bringing the field to the
classroom. The session will begin a demonstration of a virtual
fieldwork experience, and if the technology allows, an opportunity to
ask questions remotely (through either Skype or Apple’s iChat) of
high school students who have completed the same experience.

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