Computers & Geosciences, Volume 25, Number 4, 1999

John C. Butler
Department of Geosciences
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204

From the Associate Editor for ANON

During the life of ANON (first published in 1995, number 6) there have been guest contributions from a number of sectors -- education, professional societies, geological surveys and publishing companies. A common thread throughout all of the guest editorials was the use of the Internet to disseminate information judged to be of value to their individual constituencies.

In early August 1998, I had an opportunity to participate as part of a Working Group for the Assessment and Dissemination of Web-based Learning (WBL) Materials in the Earth Sciences. Nearly two dozen geoscientists and learning specialists were drawn from the petroleum industry and universities and brought to the campus of the Colorado School of Mines in Golden Colorado for about three and a half days of presentations and discussions. All shared a keen interest in exploring the potential of the Internet to assist in the creation of learning environments.

The conference was sponsored by support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Undergraduate Education, and the American Geological Institute (AGI). Tom Boyd (Colorado School of Mines), Chris Keane (AGI) and John Butler (University of Houston) served as the organizing committee. The primary goal of the workshop was to review the state of web-based learning (WBL) in the geosciences and its effect on K-12, undergraduate, graduate, corporate, and continuing education in North America. A secondary goal was to share experiences within a talented and highly motivated group of individuals.

I believe that the ANON readers will find the following links to resources developed by workshop participants informative.

Session One -- Case Studies of WBL

Session Two -- Issues and Strategies

Session Three --Assessment and Support

Wayne Greaves (Amoco), Ken Heideman (Arco), Jan Van Sant (AGI Foundation), and Charles Kluth (Chevron and representing the American Association of Petroleum Geologists) added a corporate perspective to the proceedings. Following a presentation by Greaves and Heideman, there was a general consensus that although our target audiences differed, there was a great deal of common ground. Both industry and academics believed that it was important to focus on development of resources using a modular concept. Both agreed that the ability for learners to visually interact with real data was of fundamental importance in fostering learning.

A number of breakout sessions proved effective ways to focus on issues raised by the participants. However, most all of the participants wanted their say on all issues so time was devoted to the larger or group discussion activities.


Anticipated outcomes of the workshop include :