Google Earth and Virtual Visualizations in Geoscience Education and Research
A geology-focused virtual field trip to Tenerife, Spain
Published:October 01, 2012
Nicholas P. Lang, Kelley T. Lang, Brian M. Camodeca, 2012. "A geology-focused virtual field trip to Tenerife, Spain", Google Earth and Virtual Visualizations in Geoscience Education and Research, Steven J. Whitmeyer, John E. Bailey, Declan G. De Paor, Tina Ornduff
Download citation file:
Virtual field trips provide a flexible, cost-effective way to teach or supplement course content. Here we describe a virtual field trip (VFT) to Tenerife, Spain, that emphasizes volcanism, but can be used to teach various geology-focused content areas. Specifically, using Google Earth as the platform, students can upload a Keyhole Markup Language (KML) file that will take them on a virtual transect across a volcanic terrain highlighting specific volcanic landforms and processes associated with the Caldera de las Cañadas and the Teide–Pico Viejo volcanic complex. The VFT is broken into 18 stops, each of which has embedded photographs and descriptions of each locality; YouTube videos are also included for some stops. Much as they would in a traditional “boots on the ground” field trip, students can go from stop to stop using their computers to make and tie together observations of diverse volcanic features at a variety of scales; students can complete this VFT either individually or in groups. Implementation of this VFT into two geology courses showed positive impacts on student learning, though testing on larger sample sizes should be conducted. The field trip and associated activities can be modified to suit a specific audience, class level, and/or learning objective. VFTs for Google Earth similar to the one we describe here can be constructed by: (1) directly authoring the KML code in a text editor, or (2) using graphical user interfaces in Google Earth.