Simple Geography-Related Multimedia

Simple Geography-Related Multimedia

Richard Treves (University of Southampton, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-980-9.ch012
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Teaching geography at university level involves students in study of complex diagrams and maps. These can be made easier to understand if split into parts. This chapter reports the work of a team writing a series of courses in geographic information systems (GIS) and their solution to the problem, which involved authoring simple multimedia animations using Microsoft PowerPoint™ software. The animations were authored by those writing the courses with little input from the multimedia Web specialist supporting the team. The techniques that the team used to produce the animations are explained, as are the nine points of best practice that were developed and how the animations were used with other non-animated content. Three sub-categories of these animations are described and explained and the issues of maintenance and reuse of the animated content is considered.
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A major challenge facing the teaching of geography or geology is students’ interpretation of complex maps and diagrams. Laurillard (1997) states that this is because the “[graphical] representation and the content are unfamiliar” to a novice user. These graphics are often used to communicate important multidimensional and locationally specific concepts that are extremely difficult to present verbally. Taking an example: a professional geographer will inspect a contour map and immediately be able to understand the aspects of the landscape that it represents: they can “read” maps. A novice geographer would not be able to interpret a map in the same way, for example, they may be able to understand what a contour line symbolizes but the complex pattern of contours on the map may overwhelm their ability to interpret the physical landscape it represents. One solution to this issue is to break the map or diagram down into component parts or concepts and present them in a way that builds back up to the original complexity of the diagram. In a contour map example with a dipping plane dissected by a valley ending at a cliff, the problem could be split into three stages: in the first a contour map of a dipping plane is presented, then a stage showing the same plane dissected by a valley and the final stage would show the patterns of contours with all the elements present. This sequence of diagrams would be annotated by labels and notes. In this chapter we present our experience in the development of complex maps or diagrams (hereafter referred to as “complex diagrams” for the sake of brevity) for delivery to students engaged in independent learning. Our work was initially implemented as part of a fully online master’s-level program and we have subsequently utilized the approach in self-paced practical sessions with traditional face-to-face students.

The traditional approach to breaking down a complex diagram would involve an expert geographer acting as author (hereafter referred to only as “author”) who analyses the diagram and then splits it into logical parts, annotates it, and presents it using a static diagram form. A second, alternative approach would have the author and a learning technologist (a multimedia Web specialist) working together to produce an animation of the diagram. The problem with this approach is that learning technologist time is expensive and highly constrained in most higher education environments, in addition communication between the author and learning technologist could slow production speeds compared with just having the author work on the material alone. In this chapter we advocate a third approach: by keeping the animation simple the authors can produce animation-based content for themselves. For reasons that will become apparent we term these animations “animated slide sets”. We argue that this is an educational improvement on the first static text and diagrams approach, whilst avoiding the problems of the second approach.

The teaching materials described in this chapter have been written by a multi-author team comprising several academic staff and a learning technologist. The initial work was undertaken to support an online distance learning MSc in GIS, delivered collaboratively by the Universities of Leeds and Southampton. In the case of our actual team the learning technologist had subject specialist skills, blurring the distinction between author and learning technologist. We think such blurring of roles should not affect any project that aimed to reproduce our type of work flow, all that is required is that members of the team maintain a sense of what role they are taking when undertaking team tasks. Our learning materials were written as standard HTML Web pages in learning object format (described in more detail by Wright et al., under review) and are each between approximately 500 and 2,500 words in length. Within each object there are typically one or more animated slide sets, activities and a reference section. Wright et al. (under review) also addresses such issues as learning object reuse, storage, editorial control, and intellectual property so we have avoided discussion of such issues here.

Complete Chapter List

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List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Lou McGill
Chapter 1
Philip Rees, Louise Mackay, David Martin, Gráinne Conole, Hugh Davis
Technologies offer a range of tantalizing potentials for education—in terms of providing access to media- rich context and for students to visualize... Sample PDF
Developing E-Learning in Geography
Chapter 2
Samuel Leung, David Martin, Richard Treves, Oliver Duke-Williams
In contrast to other Web-based resources, e-learning materials are not always exchangeable and shareable. Although transferring electronic documents... Sample PDF
Exchanging E-Learning Materials, Modules, and Students
Chapter 3
Helen Durham, Katherine Arrell, David DiBiase
Collaborative learning activity design (CLAD) is a multi-institution approach to the creation of e-learning material from the design phase through... Sample PDF
Collaborative Learning Activity Design: Learning about the Global Positioning System
Chapter 4
David Martin, Philip Rees, Helen Durham, Stephen A. Matthews
This chapter presents the development of a series of shared learning materials prepared to facilitate teaching in human geography. The principal... Sample PDF
Census and Population Analysis
Chapter 5
Stephen Darby, Sally J. Priest, Karen Fill, Samuel Leung
In this chapter we outline the issues involved in developing, delivering, and evaluating a Level 2 undergraduate module in fluvial geomorphology.... Sample PDF
Using Digital Libraries to Support Undergraduate Learning in Geomorphology
Chapter 6
Jim Wright, Michael J. Clark, Sally J. Priest, Rizwan Nawaz
There is an inherent antithesis between environmental management as professional practice and as concept or philosophy. Not only does this... Sample PDF
Engaging with Environmental Management: The Use of E-Learning for Motivation and Skills Enhancement
Chapter 7
Louise Mackay, Samuel Leung, E. J. Milton
In our experience of earth observation (EO) online learning we highlight the usefulness of the World Wide Web in terms of its software... Sample PDF
Earth Observation: Conveying the Principles to Physical Geography Students
Chapter 8
Helen Durham, Samuel Leung, David DiBiase
Academic integrity (AI) is of relevance across all academic disciplines, both from the perspective of the educator and the student. From the former... Sample PDF
Generic Learning Materials: Developing Academic Integrity in Your Students
Chapter 9
Karen Fill, Gráinne Conole, Chris Bailey
The DialogPLUS Toolkit is a web-based application that guides the design of learning activities. Developed to support the project’s geographers, it... Sample PDF
A Toolkit to Guide the Design of Effective Learning Activities
Chapter 10
David DiBiase, Mark Gahegan
This chapter investigates the problem of connecting advanced domain knowledge (from geography educators in this instance) with the strong pedagogic... Sample PDF
Concept Mapping to Design, Organize, and Explore Digital Learning Objects
Chapter 11
Terence R. Smith, Marcia Lei Zeng
We describe a digital learning environment (DLE) organized around sets of concepts that represent a specific domain of knowledge. A prototype DLE... Sample PDF
Semantic Tools to Support the Construction and Use of Concept-Based Learning Spaces
Chapter 12
Richard Treves
Teaching geography at university level involves students in study of complex diagrams and maps. These can be made easier to understand if split into... Sample PDF
Simple Geography-Related Multimedia
Chapter 13
Karen Fill, Louise Mackay
This chapter is concerned with the evaluation of learning materials and activities developed as part of the DialogPLUS project. A range of... Sample PDF
Evaluating the Geography E-Learning Materials and Activities: Student and Staff Perspectives
Chapter 14
Louise Mackay, David Martin, Philip Rees, Helen Durham
In this book we have illustrated the materials, software, and experience of developing and delivering geography e-learning courses and learning... Sample PDF
Reflections, Lessons Learnt, and Conclusions
Chapter 15
Sally Priest
This chapter discusses the design, technical development, delivery, and evaluation of two online learning activities in environmental geography. A... Sample PDF
Online Learning Activities in Second Year Environmental Geography
Chapter 16
Dion Hoe-Lian Goh
With the rapid growth of digital information, there is increasing recognition that digital libraries (DL) will play important roles in education... Sample PDF
Learning Geography with the G-Portal Digital Library
Chapter 17
Shivanand Balram
This chapter describes the origins, boundaries, and structures of collaborative geographic information systems (CGIS). A working definition is... Sample PDF
Collaborative Geographic Information Systems: Origins, Boundaries, and Structures
Glossary of Terms
About the Contributors