UK Earth Science Courseware Consortium Annual Users Meeting, 1997Mary Peat
Co-director UniServe Science, The University of Sydney
This was a two day event held in sunny Manchester. The first day was devoted to using courseware for geoscience teaching and learning. The TLTP materials were much in evidence - the 1997 catalogue was just out. The University of Manchester (which sits on a node of SuperJANET - the academic internet in the UK) has set up a TLTPZone which can send out TLTP across the campus. There are over 200 modules within the service and it is expected that the TLTPZone will be capable of handling other CAL materials. The current status of the UKESCC material is that it is for sale to students and to institutions (£6 per module or £30 per CD). It has been sold to over 20 countries, including Australia and New Zealand. The next stage in the TLTP program is to integrate the courseware into curricula and the geosciences courseware is also looking at being shocked onto the Web (it was developed using Authorware). Papers given on student evaluation of using the UKESCC TLTP modules (by the Open University), and on integration of the courseware with other teaching and learning activities (University of Luton) were well received by the meeting.
A highlight of the meeting was a demonstration of Mineral Master. This is essentially a series of databases on mineral structure, chemical composition, physical properties etc. which are so linked that movement from one to another is seamless. The CD allows teachers and/or students to find out about minerals in an interactive way. There are 700 high resolution images of minerals, crystal structures and crystal drawings. The software comes from Canada and will be reviewed in the next newsletter. It is for sale at a reasonable price (enquiries to UniServe Science).
The second day of the two-day program was to look at the use of the Internet in geosciences teaching. Speakers came from USA, Canada, Ireland and the UK. There were some innovative ways in which the geoscientists have been developing web materials and using them in teaching. There was a lovely virtual field trip, developed to cope with the increasing costs of taking students around the country although every geologist and geographer there said you could not replace the "real" thing, but that a pre-field trip program would help students get the most out of the real experience, although the virtual field trip lacks a pub at the end of it!
UniServe Science News Volume 8 November 1997
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