A digital learning environment for field based geoscience teaching
The Arctic Geology department at UNIS - the University Centre in Svalbard is working actively with implementing digital tools into our teaching practice, including the use of digital tools in the field. Until now we have mainly focused on digital tools for «bringing the field into the classroom» by using digital models of outcrops, which allows illustration of typical features before leaving for the field and allows the students to practice field observations inside. In this project we will take this a step further and develop a holistic field-classroom course design, where students also have access to classroom based activities (analysis, interpretations, theoretical background) during field trips and excursions. We do this by establishing a portable digital classroom consisting of a ipads for each student and teachers, a smart board system for indoor work and a digital learning environment software, which will allow students and teachers to move seamlessly between work completed inside and outside during the course.
Moving our course work, including field trip components, to the same digital platform has a number of benefits in addition to just moving course material around. It allows us/the students to save student material during the course (including different attempts at solving the same type of assignements), providing possibilities for giving better and more precise feedback, for students providing feedback to each other and combined with other methods, such as questionairres and student and teacher reflections allow us to track student learning of threshold concepts. In geology learning spatial thinking is one important threshold concept, which we will have particular focus on in the research component of the project. But the tools will be used in the entire course portfolio of BSc courses in Arctic Geology at UNIS in 2018 and 2019.