January 15, 2007

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Jennifer Chaffin
GeoJourney student Jennifer Chaffin works with information on her iPod to complete an assignment in the field.

GeoJourney students use iPods to enhance learning

A field-based geology course offered by BGSU has harnessed the technological power of the Apple iPod to the study of the Earth’s ancient beginnings.

GeoJourney, the nine-week trip across the United States for Bowling Green undergraduates, uses every function of the small but mighty device to boost students’ understanding of physical/historical geology, American and Native American culture studies, environmental studies and even critical thinking.

Dr. Joe Elkins, director of GeoJourney, said he believes his program is the first to maximize all the iPod’s capabilities. “I see it as the next frontier. We have classroom-based and Web-based teaching. Now we can use the iPod as well. It supports the broadest range of course materials and offers complete portability.”

The iPod is especially suited to meet the needs of GeoJourney, which, because it is conducted in an outdoor environment, comes with special challenges in the presentation of course material. Geology is a field in which the ability to visualize topography and “not only how the earth looks today but its evolution is a key element,” Elkins said. There are many effective visual aids available, but they could not be used on GeoJourney until the iPod was brought into the course.


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