Teaching Matters

Presentation 1 LT5

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Teaching Matters 2018 | Presentation Details | 2018


Teaching practical and field-based science using virtual resources, the perspective from Earth sciences


Michael Roach, School of Natural Sciences
Robert Scott, School of Natural Sciences
Karin Orth, School of Natural Sciences
Samantha Lake, School of Natural Sciences


Excellent teaching engages students and encourages them to learn

Presentation Type



Lecture Theatre 5




Practical and field-based programs are a cornerstone of education in many disciplines and nothing can fully replace the tactile experience of holding and manipulating an object or the insight gained by exploring, touching and documenting a sample or a field site.

However, it is not possible to expose students to a fully comprehensive range of practical and field experiences. Important localities are widely dispersed or inaccessible and sample collections are often limited or contain delicate and valuable specimens. These factors, coupled with trends towards increased flexible content delivery, mean that resources to complement (but not replace) conventional practical and field-based teaching programs are urgently needed.

The AusGeol Virtual Library of Australia’s Geology (www.ausgeol.org) was developed at UTAS with initial funding provided by an OLT Innovation and Development Grant. It provides free access to virtual geological objects from over 3800 sites across Australia and hundreds of photo-realistic models of important geological specimens. We have utilised these new resources in a number of undergraduate Earth Science units and have evaluated the student learning experience that these materials provide. For field-based programs, we have used virtual resources both prior to field work, to introduce new features and techniques, and also after completion of field trips to provide additional detail and context.

Surveys clearly show that students enjoy using the new resources and value the educational opportunities that they provide. This presentation outlines how we have utilised new engaging virtual resources in our teaching and provides a qualitative evaluation of the resultant educational outcomes.

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