GSA Penrose Conference
Google Earth: Visualizing the Possibilities for Geoscience Education
and Research

Integrating Field Courses in the Geology Curriculum at the K.U.Leuven (Belgium) Using Google Earth
Manuel Sintubin1, Rieko Adriaens1, Benedicta Ronchi1, Wim Vandewijngaerde1, Isaac Berwouts1, Friso De Clercq1, Simon D’haenens1, Gert Moermans1, Daan Vanhove1, Koen Van Noten1

(1) Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Departement of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Celestijnenlaan 200E, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium

Most of the courses in the bachelor and master of geology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium) has one or more one-day field trips, each with their particular disciplinary focus. Field trips commonly serve to illustrate subject matter treated during lectures; others aim at training field skills. The students experience each field trip – even often each individual stop or outcrop – as a separate item, not directly noticing the intrinsic links between different stops during a single field trip or between different field trips of one single course, let alone between all field trips in their curriculum. Moreover, students often don’t have a clue with respect of the geographical and/or geological context of the stops visited, before, during or after the field trips.

To address this problem we are developing a simple tool using Google Earth – OutcropLibrary@Leuven – offering in the first place an inventory of all stops or outcrops visited during the bachelor or master curriculum. Each stop or outcrop is provided with a tag with some basic information (geological context, objectives of visit, course, etc.). All stops belonging to a single course are furthermore organized in a ‘logical’ virtual tour, helping the student to ‘discover’ the links between the stops visited and thus improving the learning outcome.

Supplementary to the tags, we are preparing for each stop a standardized outcrop form with extra information for the teaching staff (practicalities, contact data, access permits, exercises, etc.). The access to this material is password-protected. This standardized information must help the staff to improve the efficiency in organizing the field trips (e.g. composing a field guide). Moreover, this inventory may become a useful tool in future curriculum development and a further integration of the field courses within the bachelor and master curriculum.

John Bailey,
Nov 14, 2011, 5:14 PM