Good Practices Good Practices %The Butler Does It%

Other resources at this site include lists of course resources arranged by Topic and by University which can be helpful in becoming familiar with the variety of resources available for instructors and students in the geosciences. Approximately 80% of these resources are primarily course notes, sylabii and other materials which, although useful for a particular course, may lack applicability for adoption by others as a part of their courses.

The purpose of this page is to focus on those resources which illustrate good practices and might be adopted by, or prove suggestive, to others. Clearly, there is an element of personal judgment in producing such lists and the author bears full responsibility for the contents. I am always interested in being aware of new resources and will gladly accept nominations.

It is imperative that we respect and protect the intellectual property of the individuals who designed and implemented the resources. I think it is proper to correspond with the individual if you want to use his/her resource for one of your exercises. Find out if they are prepared for what might be a fairly high demand on their server. It would be easy to strip out the text and accompanying images and put them on your server. This raises serious ethical issues. Perhaps the author would allow you to operate a "mirror" site. Most developers are proud of their efforts and it is always good form to ask.

Good Learning Practices in the Geosciences

|Department Commitment|Individual Courses|On-Line Courses|
|Laboratory Exercises|Analytical|Applets|Data|Handouts|Images|
|References|Student Projects|Virtual Field Trips|

Good Practices - Departmental Commitment

It appears that few departments have made a commitment to distributing learning materials on the Internet. Most of what you see is the result of the initiative of one or a few faculty members. However, there are several notable exceptions.

  1. The College of Earth and Ocean Sciences- EOS, Faculty of Science -
    at the University of British Columbia has been experimenting with delivering course resources on the Internet since about 1994 and more than 40 links to more than 40 courses with Internet-based resources are given on their pages. If you browse through their materials you will find that each course "looks" different yet there are common resources which the courses share. Take a look at WWW EOS Educational Resources. If you want to get an idea as to where your individual and collective efforts could lead, these EOS sites are perhaps your best starting point.

  2. Cornell
    faculty seem to have made a similar commitment. You will find resources ranging from little more than an Internet-based syllabus to complete texts delivered in pdf format. You can track the development of their resources back to the spring semester of 1997.

  3. Columbia University and Barnard College
    have redesigned the introductory course sequence for their Environmental Sciences major. The Site Map provides an outline view for the Climate, Solid Earth System and the Life System - the three semester introductory sequence. The heart of the sequence is their New Data Viewer which is used in some of the laboratories as well as in the lecture portion of the course.

There are nearly 180 departments producing Internet-based course resources. An alphabetical list will let you review existing resources by university.

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Good Practices - Individual Course Resources

There are numerous examples of individual courses for which extensive Web resources have evolved over time.

  1. Geology 202 - Petrography
    Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of British Columbia, is the first course with extensive Internet-based resources that I found when I started my search for how faculty were using the Internet. A lot of my thoughts and beliefs as to why I was preparing these resources evolved from this presentation. Note the presence of a communications center, a glossary, an image database and a minerals in thin section database. The home page is "clean" and easy to use. Keep in mind that what you see evolved over several years. Don't think that you have to wait until you have a full-blown site. In fact, it is probably better to start small and use the experiences of your audience to guide the development of the resources.

  2. Introduction to Geophysical Resources,
    Department of Geophysics, Colorado School of Mines, is another course which has evolved over time. In my opinion these resources could be used in a distance education mode. However, the developers have elected to use them as the background for the course and spend class time engaging their students in solving problems. If you are thinking about why you should spend time producing course resources for your students then you probably should read Program Objectives and The SEG Multi-Disciplinary Initiative: Teaching the Essence of Geophysics which was published in The Leading Edge in June, 1997. Examples of the interactive applets which are a key ingredient in these resources are given in the section on Applets.

  3. Physical Geology
    Georgia Perimeter. This is a good example of a well developed course resource. The instructor has posted notes along with interactive home work exercises and Internet references.

  4. Geology and the Environment
    Acadia University. In this course, nearly all of the resources are maintained by other individuals and groups. The instructor has spent the time to be aware of the variety of material available and constructed "outside reading lists" for her students.

  5. Body of the Earth
    Northwestern University. For each class topic (for example, SIze, Mass and Density of the Earth) there are classroom demonstrations, laboratory exercises, homework problems and concept explorations. In a similar vein is Small is Beautiful - Upgrading a beginning geophysics course. These are among the most useful course resources on the Internet.

  6. Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Other Hazards
    Princeton. This is a well developed set of resources which have evolved during the past three years. The Image Catalog is tied to lecture topics.

  7. Isotope Geochemistry
    U. Bristol. "This course provides an introduction to the use of isotopes in geochemistry. The course is divided into a series of modules that are designed to be tackled in order. Each module explains a particular topic and is followed by a test which is designed to examine your understanding of the material. If you continue to have problems after reading through the module and the supporting reading material, there are surgery hours where you can come along and ask for advice." A good example of how simple html - no bells and whistles - can construct a very effective set of self-paced tutorials.

  8. Gems and Gem Minerals
    U. Texas. "Welcome to the Fall '98 Gems and Gem Minerals class! From this home page you can navigate to course information, lecture handouts, on-line lecture notes and much more."
There are more than 900 Internet-based course resources. A list by geosciences topic will let you review these resources by sub-discipline.

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Good Practices - On-Line Geoscience Courses

Although the vast majority of Internet-based resources are designed as supplements and compliments to formal classroom instruction, there are several wholly on-line courses. If the production of such a course is your goal, you should take the time to go through as many examples as you can.

  1. The Earth and its Neighbors in Space
    California State University @ Bakersfield. "Scientific method and discovery in the study of stars, planets, weather, rivers, glaciers, oceans, rocks, volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, mountains, drifting continents, the earth in time."

  2. Gems and Precious Stones
    University of Wisconsin at Madison. "This site provides an integrated body of information about gems and gemstones. Materials cover general topics central to gemology, mineralogy, and geology; with lectures and visual materials covering diamonds and diamond simulants, rubies, sapphires, varieties of beryl (e.g., emerald), and other precious and semi-precious stones (18 lectures, links to sites providing supporting information, hundreds of images and diagrams)."

  3. Environmental Problem Solving
    Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis." In this course, you will develop skills that will make you more comfortable in recognizing problems that can be solved (the meaning of "solved" will become clear) and in making sense of the quantitative information that we are flooded with in the media. Environmental problems are used as sources of material for the quantitative analyses because they are both important and interesting. "

  4. Oceanography
    U. Houston. In the fall semester the instructor will teach one formal lecture section of the lecture and laboratory and one Internet-based section of lecture and laboratory. Data gathered during the semester may help address the issue of the value added by the Internet to the creation of a learning environment.

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Good Practices - Laboratory Exercises

One of the easiest ways to begin is to put your favorite classroom or homework exercises on the Internet. Often, such exercises can standalone and, as such, can be of some utility to other instructors or students. A few examples follow along with a link to a catalog of laboratory exercises. Many of the exercises that follow are not "interactive". They are included to give the readers ideas for the development of their own exercises.

  1. A Tale of Two Planets: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Landslides, and Floods on Earth and Mars
    California State University @ Bakersfield. These self-contained exercises are cast in a frames format.

  2. Topographic Maps
    Clavert College. "Two exercises are included on this map, and this screen will serve as an index to the individual exercises. The lower box provides a link to an exercise on scale reading. The middle box leads to exercise in reading contour lines. And the upper box represents an exercise on flood-plain analysis that is still in the works".

  3. Thematic Maps
    Occidental College. "From this page, you can access various thematic maps covering parts of Los Angeles County. These GIF images are derived from graphics created in COREL Draw by Prof. Scott Bogue (Geology, Occidental College). They are all based on maps originally compiled and drafted by Prof. James Sadd."

  4. Oceanography Laboratories
    California State University @ San Jose."Sea water covers 71% of the earth's surface or 360 million square kilometers and composes 97% of the earth's water thus making our planet a unique body within our solar system. Several bodies in our solar system may have sheets of ice and one moon of Jupiter may have an ocean, but the extent and amount of sea water on earth is special. "

  5. Landslides
    University of Cincinnati. " Landslides and mass movements involve the downslope movement of rock and/or soil and other surficial materials under the influence of gravity. Movement in landslides is generally rapid and takes place such that the center of gravity moves in a downward and outward direction. In this example, water-saturated bedrock and regolith fail along a curved surface and produce a landslide."

  6. Flooding Exercise
    University of Cincinnati. "A flood is usually caused by a stream that has overflowed its banks during periods of high runoff. Floods occur when the water height or stage of a stream, commonly measured by a stream guage, passes some predetermined level, which is usually taken as the bank-full stage. When the stream channel can no longer accommodate the increased discharge it overflows its banks. This exercise is designed to explore the nature of floods and flood prediction. "

  7. Physical Geology Lab
    from Texas A&M University. Power Point presentations covering the background needed for a Physical Geology laboratory course. This is a good resource for Teaching Assistants as well as for the students themselves

  8. Volcano Project
    the University of Houston. These exercises are a mix of data gathering, obtaining information, and data synthesis. FIve separate exercises comprise this project along with a writing assignment.

  9. Igneous Exercises
    University of Wyoming. A mixture of Internet-based and non Internet-based exercises for Physical Geology and/or petrology.

  10. A Catalog of Geoscience Laboratory Exercises

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Good Practices - Applets

  1. Gravity Anomaly Over A Tunnel
    from the Colorado School of Mines

  2. Effect of "bin width" on the Appearance of a Histogram
    a simple yet highly effective illustrator of an important concept.

  3. Virtual Earthquake
    California State University @ Los Angeles. This appears to be one of the most widely used resource on the Internet.

  4. Virtual Dating (of rocks!)
    California State University @ Los Angeles

  5. The Virtual Laboratory
    More than 100 On-Line Physics Java Applets and VRML Resources

  6. A Catalog of Geoscience Applets

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Good Practices - Analytical Applications

  1. Crystal Maker
    a Demo version of an application that should be part of the resources in every course in Mineralogy.

  2. Earth System Resources
    Penn State University. " During 1994, the multimedia producers in the Deasy GeoGraphics Laboratory of our Department of Geography began a new project. Their goal was to produce a collection of short computer-based animations, images and models. These resources were designed to be used during lectures (using computer projection systems) by faculty members teaching Penn State's introductory earth science course."

  3. Earth Moon Viewer
    You can view either a map of the Earth showing the day and night regions at this moment, or view the Earth from the Sun, the Moon, the night side of the Earth, above any location on the planet specified by latitude, longitude and altitude, from a satellite in Earth orbit, or above various cities around the globe.

  4. MultiSpec
    "MultiSpec is being developed at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, by David Landgrebe and Larry Biehl from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and LARS. It results from an on-going multiyear research effort which is intended to define robust and fundamentally based technology for analyzing multispectral and hyperspectral image data, and to transfer this technology to the user community in as rapid a manner as possible. The results of the research are implemented into MultiSpec and made available to the user community via the download pages. MultiSpec© with its documentation© is distributed without charge." The lab MultiSpec Analysis of Crop Production is a good illustration of the use of MultiSpec.

  5. Petroglyph
    Simulation of a petrographic microscope - from Bringam Young University

  6. Petrographic Microscope
    UCLA - Extensive collection of images and optical properties

  7. Shell Generator
    U. British Columbia. "The Interactive Accretionary Shell Model This program uses Raup's parameters to generate different shell shapes. You need a VRML PLUG-IN (e.g., Live 3-D of Netscape) to run this program. By modifying the parameters and pressing DRAW, you will generate a 3 dimensional shell. This shell can then be rotated, spun moved, etc. using your mouse button with the appropriate VRML command (click your right mouse button over the drawing for options)."

  8. Stella Models
    from Carleton College

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Good Practices - Data Sets

  1. Earthquake Information
    from the USGS

  2. Earthquake Watch
    from the USGS

  3. Search for Historic Earthquakes

  4. World Data Center A
    Education, Gravity, Magnetics, Topography among other topics

  5. Sources of Geophysical Data
    Geophysics on the Internet, U. Houston

  6. Current Volcanic Activity
    from Volcano World - on of the long-term geosciences resources on the Internet.

  7. Data Viewer
    Columbia University

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  • Map Generation - WWW

  • Plant Fossil Record
    "This site currently has descriptions of about 250,000 extinct plants from published records in its data base. This is more than a searchable data base as any named plant can be searched and its global occurrence plotted on palaeogeographic maps.">


    Good Practices - Handouts

    1. Climate from Geothermal Data
      St. Francis Xavier, Canada.

    2. Environmental Topics
      St. Francis, Xavier, Canada. A set of short "essays" which would make good handout materials covering a variety of topics.

    3. Global Earth History, Geologic History of the Western US and Selected North American Orogenies
      from Northern Arizona University

    4. Gravity and Magnetics Primer
      "The primary goal of studying gravity and magnetic data is to provide a better understanding of the subsurface geology of the Earth. Gravity and magnetic measurements are both non-destructive remote sensing methods that are relatively cheap, and are used to determine information about the subsurface that is useful especially in exploration for oil and gas and mineral deposits. "

    5. Geophysical Examples
      Seismic exploration, in principle, is nothing more than a mechanized version of the blind person and his cane. In place of the tapping cane we have a hammer blow on the ground, or an explosion in a shallow hole, to generate sound waves. We "listen" with geophones ...

    6. Geophysical Case Histories
      U. British Columbia - Excellent set of resources covering a wide range of applications

    7. Global Positioning Systems
      " Finally, the U.S. Department of Defense decided that the military had to have a super precise form of worldwide positioning. And fortunately they had the kind of money ($12 Billion!) it took to build something really good. The result is the Global Positioning System, a system that's changed navigation forever."

    8. Petrology and Plate Tectonics
      from Pomona University.

    9. Measured and Estimated SeaFloor Topography
      Land Topography from GTOPO30

    10. Plate Tectonics
      from the U. Oregon Electronic Universe Project.

    11. A Catalog of Geoscience Handout Resources

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    Good Practices - The Use of Images

    1. Keck Consortium Structural Geology Slide Set
      "The Keck Geology Consortium Structural Geology Slide Set was compiled by H. Robert Burger, Smith College with the support of the W. M. Keck Foundation, Los Angeles. The database was developed by the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. "

    2. Image Data Base
      University of British Columbia. "Welcome to the UBC EOS Image Gallery. This collection contains images related to the earth and ocean sciences, including some specialized subsets (e.g., Lithoprobe, Structural Geology)." Faculty at UBC can use EOS Slide Shows to prepare talks and presentations.

    3. Geologic Hazards - Keyword Organization - from NASA

    4. Atlas of Igneous and Metamorphic Minerals, Rocks, and Textures
      from University of North Carolina

    5. Earth Images
      Arranged for the beginner, intermediate, or advanced user.

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    Good Practices - Reference Materials

    1. Earthquake Information
      from the USGS

    2. The Electronic Volcano - from Dartmouth College

    3. Illustrated Glossary of Geologic Terms
      from Iowa State

    4. Geology and Geologic Time - from UC Berkeley

    5. an introduction to Plate Tectonics & the Formation of Pangaea
      "The discovery of the one time existence of the supercontinent Pangaea was the crowning triumph of the theory of Plate Tectonics. Books, articles, maps, and diagrams abound describing Pangaea and documenting its ultimate breakup at the end of the Mesozoic era."

    6. the Nine Planets
      "The nine planets - The Nine Planets is a collection of information about our Solar System intended for a general audience with little technical background. No special expertise or knowledge is needed; all technical and astronomical terms and proper names are defined in the glossary." One of the first and one of the best.

    7. This Dynamic Earth
      from the USGS

    8. Seismolinks
      "If you have an extra 168 hours to spare for surfing, this list will guarantee you an A+ in the course and an offer to graduate school. " [from Princeton]

    9. Structural Geology on the Web

    10. Visualizatons in Materials Science - from North Carolina State University

    11. Volcano World
      Extensive resources, exercises, and images

    12. Volcanic Outreach Materials
      Slide sets from Michigan Tech

    13. A Catalog of Geoscience Reference Materials

    14. A Catalog of Mathematics and Science Resources

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    Good Practices - Student Projects

    1. Big Bend National Park
      Texas A&M is an interesting combination of a virtual field trip and a student(s) project. This combination seems to be an ideal alternative to the "same old" term paper.

    2. the Geology of Cincinnati

    3. The Hooper Paleontology Museum
      Carlton College, includes "Internet" essays by students.

    4. Understanding Environmental Systems
      Rice University. "Understanding Rice as an Environmental System : Wetlands System, Flood System, Playing Fields System, etc. A great way to get students to work together in a setting that they are familiar with.

    5. Student Projects in Space Geodesy
      from U. California at Davis

    6. A Catalog of Student Projects
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    Good Practices - Virtual Field Trips

    1. Texas Hill Country Field Trips
      Texas A&M University. "The objective of the Texas Hill Country Virtual Field Trip is to educate visitors to the website about the geology of the hill country in Texas. A key part of this objective is that we wanted to create a websitethat people could visit that would, in effect, show visitors what the hill country would be like if they visited it themselves."

    2. Virtual Geology Project
      University of North Carolina. More than 20 field trips in North Carolina will eventually be listed at this site which is designed for the citizens of the state.

    3. Quick Time Virtual Reality Movies
      The Open University - check out the Skiddaw granite aureole.

    4. Earth Trips by Time and Space
      Paleontological Research Institute

    5. Glacier Bay
      A Multimedia Tour

    6. Jurassic Park Reef
      " When hearing about reefs you might probably start dreaming about warm weather, snorkeling fun in warm waters, colourful fish schools, the dark blue open sea, greenish-blue clear lagoons, and white palm beaches at lonely islands. This shows already how accurately reefs reflect distinct ecological needs.">

    7. Geology of Sideling Hill
      "Sideling Hill lies in the Valley and Ridge Physiographic Province of eastern North America, a region characterized by tightly folded strata."

    8. A Catalog of Virtual Field Trips

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    since December 20, 1996 Copyright by John C. Butler, August 15, 1998.

    Updated on August 20, 1998

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