GigaPan Technology to Enhance In-Class and In-Field Learning in Community College Settings

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Joshua I Villalobos, El Paso Community College, Geological Sciences Discipline, El Paso, TX, United States and Callan Bentley, Northern Virginia Community College Annandale, Geology, Annandale, VA, United States
Community college students account for over 40% of all undergraduates in the United States as well as the majority of minority and non-traditional students attending undergraduate courses. Implementing innovative, cost effective, and formative pedagogies to the diverse backgrounds of students that typically enroll at a community is often a challenge. Interactive pedagogies in geology pose a unique challenge considering that students gain the most long-term knowledge when topics covered in a course are exposed to them in outdoor settings where they are allowed to explore and make connections. The ability to expose students to real world examples is challenging to many community college faculty considering that that many; lack funds or means for transportation of students, do not have administrative support on such endeavors, teach evening or night classes, or have a high percentage of students who are physically limited or have obligations to work and family. A joint collaborative between El Paso Community College (EPCC) and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) has explored the usage of GigaPan technology to create multi-layered online material to minimize these issues faced by many community college faculty and students. The primary layer of the online material is GigaPans of local geological sites that highlight large-scale structures in the El Paso, Texas region that are commonly used in local field trips and lab book material. The second layer is of Macro-GigaPans of hand samples of key outcrops from the primarily GigaPans which facilitate student learning, exploration, and ability to make connections by exploring smaller scale features of the primary layer. A third layer of online material, GigaPans of thin sections of hand samples (from secondary layers), and curriculum based on the GigaPans was then created to assist students in evaluating proposed hypotheses on the primary layers' geological origin. GigaPan cirriculum was utilized in introductory geology courses as well as a capstone Geological Field Methods course at El Paso Community College.