Earth Observation: Conveying the Principles to Physical Geography Students

Earth Observation: Conveying the Principles to Physical Geography Students

Louise Mackay (University of Leeds, UK), Samuel Leung (University of Southampton, UK) and E. J. Milton (University of Southampton, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-980-9.ch007
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In our experience of earth observation (EO) online learning we highlight the usefulness of the World Wide Web in terms of its software, functionality, and user accessibility for developing and delivering a range of activities and delivery modes to both undergraduate and advanced learners. Through the mechanism of developing teaching materials and adapting them for the online classroom, EO learning can become highly interactive and well-illustrated by linking to online image processing software and relevant image data, make use of the Web’s graphical interface to reinvigorate DOS-based remote sensing programs to be more student-friendly, and with the advent of collaborative Web software, such as Wiki, provide a networked community for EO learners. In this chapter we showcase a variety of delivery modes for our EO materials—online lectures delivered within a blended learning module for the undergraduate to individual online activities (remote sensing practical exercises and an electronic learning diary) for the advanced EO learner. Examples of our learning materials are discussed in this chapter to show how adapting to online delivery and making use of Web technology has supported our teaching of EO.
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What About EO Tutorials Already on the Web?

We want to introduce EO to the undergraduate student who wishes to acquire good quality EO image processing skills, the student with more than a passing interest in image data. For the person asking, “How did they do that?” or ”What does NASA’s image of the day mean?,” the content of existing Web tutorials on EO are of interest to the novice user. In terms of conveying sound principles of EO to the undergraduate student, learning materials based in the foundation of EO as a science that also provide skills and techniques for the advanced EO learner are necessary. The examples we show in this chapter provide that level of learning: both in the basis of the science and in the higher-level detail.

Why Translate Traditional Courses and Create EO Online Materials?

Is EO as a topic ripe for online learning? We would argue, absolutely! EO more than most topics benefits from visual examples, which capture both the spatial and spectral richness of the subject. Add to this the availability of video images to represent dynamic phenomena and the case becomes compelling. Learning in an online mode takes advantage of the Web – we can access image databases or spectral data within the learning materials. That means for the student the subject matter is immediately relevant, well illustrated, and accessible.

What are the EO E-Activities?

EO is one of the core geography sub-areas of the DialogPLUS project. Within our e-learning project online learning materials were created from existing courses consisting of face-to-face lectures and lab-based practical exercises. Having created EO learning materials for the project we were then given the opportunity to usefully embed them in the curricula and support our teaching. Nuggets (our term for a reusable learning object and explained in further detail in the Preface) developed from original EO modules were then delivered in a different format: online and distance-taught.

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