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Issue One January 2001<br />

January 2001<br />

Issue One<br />

Learning and Teaching<br />

Support Network<br />

National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong><br />

for Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences<br />

Planet<br />

Supporting learning and<br />

teaching in Geography,<br />

Earth and Environmental<br />

Sciences<br />

In <strong>this</strong> issue:<br />

• Introducing the new National<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong><br />

• Teaching and the RAE<br />

• C & IT in fieldwork<br />

• Business for Geology Students<br />

• Collaborative Learning<br />

Environments<br />

• Synergy: The Greenwich Experience<br />

• A Guide to HE Initiatives<br />

• Diary Dates

Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

C O N T E N T S<br />

Welcome - “A word from the boss” 2<br />

Cliff Allan<br />

Introducing the LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> 3<br />

<strong>Centre</strong> for <strong>GEES</strong><br />

Brian Chalkley<br />

Feature Articles:<br />

- Teaching and the RAE 4<br />

Mick Healey<br />

- Developing Field-Sim; Software to 6<br />

Support Fieldwork<br />

Mike Sanders and Malcolm Nimmo<br />

- An Oil Business Simulation for 8<br />

Geology Students<br />

Gordon Walkden<br />

- Urban Planning: A New Collaborative 12<br />

Learning Environment<br />

Chris Webster, Jeff Johns and Kioe Sheng Yap<br />

- Synergy: The Greenwich Experience 14<br />

Mike McGibbon<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> Activities, Developments 15<br />

and Projects<br />

Reviews 19<br />

<strong>GEES</strong> Guide to…. 21<br />

For Your Information 25<br />

Webbed Foot 27<br />

Diary Dates 29/30<br />

Information for Contributors 31<br />

What is PLANET?<br />

PLANET is the bi-annual publication of the LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong><br />

for Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. Its aims are to:<br />

• Identify and disseminate good practice in learning and teaching across<br />

the three disciplines of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences<br />

and present examples and case studies in a “magazine” format.<br />

• Provide a forum for the discussion of ideas about learning and teaching<br />

in the three discipline communities.<br />

• Provide information for readers on <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> activities and on<br />

related resources, conferences and educational developments.<br />

Welcome - “A word from the boss”<br />

As Director of the UK’s new Learning and Teaching Support Network<br />

(LTSN), I am pleased to welcome <strong>this</strong> first edition of PLANET. It is one of<br />

a range of initiatives being undertaken by your new <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> to<br />

promote the cause of learning and teaching in Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences.<br />

Your <strong>Centre</strong> is part of a network of 24 <strong>Centre</strong>s (the LTSN) each of<br />

which is providing a one-stop shop for staff wanting information, ideas,<br />

resources or advice about teaching in their subject area(s). Each LTSN<br />

<strong>Centre</strong> is adopting its own approach to the dissemination of good<br />

education practice, but all are helping departments and individuals to<br />

respond to change in ways which will enhance student learning.<br />

The LTSN is a unique initiative and so the eyes of the world are upon us.<br />

This opens up possibilities for international contacts and makes it doubly<br />

important that we succeed in demonstrating the value of our disciplinebased<br />

approach to developments in learning and teaching.<br />

Here in the UK the disciplines of Geography, Earth and Environmental<br />

Sciences are widely recognised as having a very strong commitment to<br />

their students, not least as evidenced through fieldwork. In recent years<br />

they have also developed much innovative good practice to share with<br />

each other and with other subjects. I therefore wish your new <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong> every success in all its various activities and services. Please use<br />

them to the full!<br />

Cliff Allan<br />

LTSN Programme Director<br />


PLANET is also freely available to download as a .pdf file from<br />

the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>’s website at http://www.gees.ac.uk. The<br />

website also provides general <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> information and<br />

specific links to other learning and teaching sites. Pay us a visit.<br />

Editorial Board<br />

The University of Plymouth based team<br />

Stephen Gaskin<br />

Operational Editor<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> Dissemination Co-ordinator<br />

Brian Chalkley<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> Director<br />

Lawrie Phipps<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> C & IT Manager<br />

Helen King<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> Manager<br />

The <strong>Centre</strong>’s National Advisory Team<br />

Mick Healey Cheltenham and Gloucester College of HE<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> Geography Senior Advisor<br />

Neil Thomas Kingston University<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> Earth Sciences Senior Advisor<br />

Jennifer Blumhof University of Hertfordshire<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> Environmental Sciences Senior Advisor<br />

Geoff Robinson University of Leicester<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> C & IT Senior Advisor<br />

PLANET ISSN Number 1473-1835<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Profile on….Cliff Allan<br />

Who is he?<br />

Cliff is responsible for the strategic direction of the Learning<br />

and Teaching Support Network (LTSN), its funding arrangements,<br />

overall management of the programme and support for <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong>s.<br />

Background<br />

Cliff spent 10 years working on policy for the funding councils,<br />

first the former Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council<br />

(PCFC) and latter the Higher Education Funding Council for<br />

England (HEFCE) where he was Head of Teaching and Learning<br />

Policy. He has also worked in management consultancy, primarily<br />

in the public and education sectors. Prior to <strong>this</strong> he briefly lectured<br />

in International Relations and Politics at Coventry University.<br />

Professional Interests<br />

Cliff has a significant interest in the implementation of national<br />

policy - trying to make ‘good ideas’ work in practice. In particular,<br />

having seen and contributed to many previous HE policy initiatives<br />

on learning and teaching he believes the LTSN is a real<br />

opportunity to build on what we have learned and deliver<br />

something that has a real impact on learning and teaching in HE.<br />

He continues to undertake research in the educational policy<br />

process.<br />

Personal Interests<br />

Cliff is an occasional runner and tennis player - but since returning<br />

to his northern roots he has invested a slice of free time enjoying<br />

the resurgence of his beloved Leeds United.<br />

HE: the next ten years?<br />

Cliff asserts that the biggest change in HE over the next 10<br />

years will be students who enter HE after several years of using<br />

and mastering communications and information technologies,<br />

and who will expect their application in learning and teaching<br />

and student support. He states that ‘we must be prepared,<br />

adaptable and responsive to such changes in student expectations<br />

and abilities’.<br />

Introducing the National <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong>: What’s it all about?<br />

Welcome to the new LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography,<br />

Earth and Environmental Sciences and to <strong>this</strong> very first edition of<br />

PLANET. Our <strong>Centre</strong> is part of a network of 24 such higher education<br />

centres, each one committed to raising the profile of learning and<br />

teaching in a particular academic discipline or subject field. Our<br />

<strong>Centre</strong>’s aim therefore is to promote the development and sharing<br />

of good educational practice within and across the three disciplines<br />

which define our particular remit.<br />

Our role is national and comprehensive. So, no matter where you<br />

are based or in what kind of institution you work, if you are interested<br />

in the teaching of Geography, Earth or Environmental Science, we are<br />

here to help. Our three subjects are already recognised as leading<br />

disciplines in higher education teaching and the <strong>Centre</strong> will be working<br />

hard to maintain and build on our established reputation for high<br />

standards and successful innovation.<br />

Academics rightly cherish their independence and so the new <strong>Centre</strong><br />

will most definitely not be in the business of telling staff how to do<br />

their teaching. Instead, our approach will prioritise working<br />

collaboratively to identify and meet the needs of the three communities.<br />

Our key goal will be to promote ideas and practices which will enable<br />

staff in the three disciplines to enrich the quality of students’ education.<br />

This goal will be achieved through a range of activities and services<br />

such as national conferences, departmental workshops, a staff advisory<br />

service, special dissemination projects, good-practice databases, an<br />

information gateway and our website news service. Our bi-annual<br />

publication, PLANET, will also help to keep staff abreast of new<br />

developments and provide a forum for debating current issues.<br />

Based at the University of Plymouth, the <strong>Centre</strong> has five staff, myself<br />

(Brian Chalkley) as Director, Helen King as <strong>Centre</strong> Manager, Steve<br />

Gaskin as Dissemination Co-ordinator, plus Judith Gill who is our<br />

Administrative Assistant and Lawrie Phipps who is our C & IT Manager<br />

(though sadly Lawrie will soon be moving to take up a more senior<br />

position at York with the LTSN).<br />

Our <strong>Centre</strong> is fortunate in being able to draw on the services of four<br />

part-time Senior Advisors not based at Plymouth, each of whom<br />

provides specialist expertise. They are Jenny Blumhof (Environmental<br />

Science), Mick Healey (Geography), Geoff Robinson (C&IT) and Neil<br />

Thomas (Earth Science). All the <strong>Centre</strong>’s activities are overseen by a<br />

Steering Group which includes senior figures from the three disciplines<br />

and from the relevant professional bodies. Its chair is Rita Gardner,<br />

Director of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British<br />

Geographers (RGS-IBG).<br />

Our new <strong>Centre</strong>, sometimes referred to as <strong>GEES</strong> (pronounced geese),<br />

represents a significant initiative in the development of learning and<br />

teaching across our three subjects. It brings the benefits of a strong<br />

discipline-focus together with opportunities for collaboration,<br />

particularly with our near discipline neighbours. If PLANET readers<br />

have suggestions to make about any of our activities and services, we<br />

would be very pleased to hear from you. Our aim is to respond to<br />

the needs of the three disciplines (both individually and collectively):<br />

your ideas can help and would be much appreciated.<br />

Brian Chalkley<br />

Director<br />

National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences<br />

b.chalkley@plymouth.ac.uk<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Teaching and the RAE<br />

Response to HEFCE (2000) Review of Research 00/37<br />

Prepared by Mick Healey and endorsed by the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>’s<br />

Director, Manager, Senior Advisors and Steering Group<br />

Background<br />

1. In September 2000, the Higher Education Funding Council for<br />

England (HEFCE) published a consultation report on their<br />

fundamental review of research policy and funding. The report,<br />

recommendations and consultation questions can be viewed or<br />

downloaded from the HEFCE’s web-site at: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/<br />

Pubs/hefce/2000/00_37.htm Many readers will have been involved<br />

in contributing to comments on <strong>this</strong> report through their own<br />

institutions, professional bodies and other interested groups. The<br />

National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Earth and Environmental<br />

Sciences felt that several of the recommendations had important<br />

implications for the teaching and learning of our subjects. The<br />

response reproduced below was submitted on behalf of the<br />

<strong>Centre</strong>, its Steering Group and Senior Advisers, and does not<br />

necessarily reflect the views of the three discipline-based<br />

communities. It focuses on three main topics:<br />

• discipline-based pedagogic research<br />

• the relationship between teaching and research<br />

• the role of scholarship.<br />

Summary<br />

2. Our main concerns are as follows:<br />

• The Review of Research treats research as an isolated and<br />

separate activity and ignores the beneficial and detrimental<br />

effects it has on other activities, in particular teaching and<br />

student learning;<br />

• The RAE explicitly recognises the ‘end users’ of research, but<br />

it is unclear that the interests of teachers and students as users<br />

of research are acknowledged;<br />

• It is important that synergies between HEFCE’s policies for<br />

teaching and research are made explicit to avoid unintended<br />

detrimental impacts of the Research Assessment Exercise<br />

(RAE) policy on the standing and status of teaching and the<br />

quality of student learning.<br />

Discipline-based pedagogic research<br />

3. We welcome the acceptance of pedagogic research in the RAE<br />

2001 as “a valid and valued form of research activity … (that) will<br />

be assessed by all subject panels on an equitable basis with other<br />

forms of research”. It will be important that the way in which<br />

subject panels have interpreted <strong>this</strong> guidance is reviewed once<br />

the outcomes are known. We would welcome confirmation at<br />

an early stage that the policy (and practice) of equitable treatment<br />

of pedagogic research will continue in any future RAEs so that<br />

individuals and departments may plan their contributions sensibly.<br />

The policy was announced too late in the cycle to have much<br />

impact on what will be submitted to subject panels for RAE2001.<br />

4. Discipline-based pedagogic research is at a very early stage in its<br />

development and if it is to be encouraged and nurtured not only<br />

should it be valued, but steps also need to be taken, we believe,<br />

to raise the capacity of staff in the disciplines to undertake high<br />

quality research. This might be achieved by a variety of mechanisms,<br />

including opportunities for staff: to obtain pedagogic research<br />

training; to work with, and be mentored by, experienced pedagogic<br />

researchers; and to gain experience of undertaking small research<br />

projects. Pedagogic research projects range over a continuum<br />

from evaluations of practices arising from one’s own teaching<br />

through more elaborate action research projects to full-scale<br />

research projects, such as are funded by the Economic and Social<br />

Research Council (ESRC). RAE outputs are likely to arise primarily<br />

from projects located towards the latter end of the continuum.<br />

However, to raise the capacity to undertake RAE-type research<br />

many discipline-based staff will need first to gain experience of<br />

undertaking projects located towards the other end of the<br />

continuum. To promote the full range of pedagogic research it is<br />

important therefore that policies developed by HEFCE’s Strategic<br />

Committee for Research have a synergistic relationship with those<br />

designed by the Learning and Teaching Committee.<br />

The relationship between teaching and research<br />

5. We are concerned that the report takes an insular attitude to the<br />

relationship in that it argues the relationship is not its business.<br />

There are two clear examples of <strong>this</strong>:<br />

First, Para 175 states that “it would be wrong to allow teaching<br />

issues to influence the allocation of funds for research”. The<br />

same logic would suggest that the Teaching and Learning<br />

Committee should similarly feel that it would be wrong to<br />

allow research issues to influence the allocation of funds for<br />

teaching. If that is the case, where do the relationships between<br />

teaching and research get discussed and promoted? The<br />

research into the relationship between teaching and research<br />

clearly shows that if the synergies between the two activities<br />

are to be maximised they need to be planned for at the level<br />

of the individual, unit/department and institution and not left<br />

to chance (Jenkins et al, 1998). Although mentioned in the<br />

Sub Group report, ways of progressing <strong>this</strong> relationship (for<br />

example, addressing the issue identified by J M Consulting<br />

(2000) that institutional policies to extract synergies are patchy<br />

and variable in effectiveness) are ignored in the<br />

recommendations of the Review of Research.<br />

Second, Para 20 states “We do not believe that the answer to<br />

maintaining motivation and reward for other activities is<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

tinkering with the process of research funding or assessment:<br />

that would be to act on the wrong instrument. Rather it is<br />

necessary to create other and parallel reward systems so that<br />

academic staff and their institutions see incentives to put their<br />

effort into activities other than research, in which they might<br />

have greater strengths or can add more value.” This again<br />

raises the question who is responsible for correcting the<br />

balance of status and rewards and where will <strong>this</strong> be addressed?<br />

6. The statement in Para 20 contrasts with Recommendation 22<br />

that suggests that “HEFCE should make it clear that its funds for<br />

teaching include an element intended to enable staff to engage in<br />

scholarship”. This suggests that <strong>this</strong> should be achieved with existing<br />

funds. If so, how will the balance between rewards for research<br />

and teaching be corrected?<br />

7. We are also concerned about the way in which the Report treats<br />

the research evidence on the relationship between teaching and<br />

research. Para 168 states that “Most academics argue that good<br />

research is necessary for good teaching.” However, most academics<br />

argue <strong>this</strong> on the basis of belief and anecdotal evidence, not on<br />

the basis of research evidence. The research evidence discussed<br />

in the report that HEFCE commissioned from J M Consulting<br />

(2000) only gives qualified support to the proposition that “there<br />

is a strong relationship between good teaching and good research”.<br />

Other evidence indicates that the relationship between teaching<br />

and research is a complex one, and where is does exist, it takes<br />

place through elements which are common to both processes,<br />

such as ‘scholarship’ and the ‘act of learning’ (Elton, in press; Healey,<br />

2000; Jenkins, 2000; Southampton Institute, 2000).<br />

8. A further example of a change in the interpretation of the evidence<br />

is given in the way the Review of Research reports on the synergy<br />

between teaching and research. J M Consulting (2000) concludes<br />

“there is no evidence of a particular synergistic relationship which<br />

is present in any general sense across all institutions, disciplines<br />

and levels of study.” Yet the Review of Research states in para 168<br />

that “in general, over the sector as a whole, such a synergistic<br />

relationship does exist”.<br />

9. In summary, we are concerned that the Review of Research offers<br />

no suggestions for developing the synergistic relationship between<br />

teaching and research, minimising the detriments of staff research<br />

for student learning and maximising the benefits of research for<br />

teaching.<br />

The role of scholarship<br />

10. The over-simplistic treatment of the research-teaching relationship<br />

is also apparent in Recommendation 21 “Scholarship is an activity<br />

which is separate from research and should be required of all<br />

academics who teach”. Scholarship is defined in the glossary as<br />

“being … alert to developments in the subject, including new<br />

discoveries, and interpreting and reinterpreting the knowledge<br />

base of the subject”. As defined, <strong>this</strong> is also an activity that underpins<br />

research. Hence the promotion and funding of scholarship should<br />

not be restricted to the teaching function. Indeed, J M Consulting<br />

(2000) clearly state “Scholarship is recognised as an important<br />

underpinning for both teaching and research” (para 9).<br />

11. We welcome the distinction that HEFCE are beginning to make<br />

between the ‘scholarship for teaching’ - keeping up to date with<br />

one’s subject - and the ‘scholarship of teaching’ - researching into<br />

teaching (Beckhradnia, 2000; Watt, 2000). However, in the context<br />

of the Review of Research we believe that it is helpful to clarify<br />

these terms further to avoid unintended outcomes.<br />

12. We have already made a case in para 4 for the difficulty of<br />

separating pedagogic research which has an RAE outcome from<br />

pedagogic research aimed solely at improving student learning.<br />

Hence the RAE is only part of the solution for developing<br />

pedagogic research.<br />

13. We believe that keeping up to date with one’s subject is part of<br />

the professionalism of being a teacher in higher education and<br />

does not require separate funding. However, developing teaching<br />

resources, especially electronic ones, and writing textbooks are<br />

critical for the quality of student learning and there is evidence<br />

that the RAE has diverted the efforts of academics in our subject<br />

area away from these activities (e.g. Jenkins, 1995; Healey, 1997).<br />

Policies are needed to ensure that the status and rewards for<br />

engaging in the development of high quality teaching resources<br />

match those for involvement in RAE research.<br />

Conclusions<br />

14. Against <strong>this</strong> background our answers to the relevant questions in<br />

Annex M of the Review of Research are as follows:<br />

Question 17: Do you agree that RAE panels should be<br />

given more freedom to collect evidence specific to<br />

their discipline?<br />

15. Yes. Individual disciplines do have distinctive academic traditions<br />

and modes of enquiry and it is important that <strong>this</strong> is recognised in<br />

the RAE process.<br />

Question 21a: Do you agree that scholarship is an<br />

activity that can be distinguished from research?<br />

16. The answer depends on what is meant by ‘scholarship’. If the<br />

definition in the report is to be used, the answer is “no”. Research<br />

and scholarship are related and overlapping activities, which it<br />

makes no sense to distinguish. If a broader definition is to be<br />

used, which would be our preference, then funds for scholarship<br />

should be found from both the Teaching and Research budgets.<br />

Question 21b: Do you agree that scholarship should<br />

be required of all academics who teach?<br />

17. Yes, whichever definition is used. The research evidence is clear<br />

on the importance of the teacher’s knowledge of their discipline,<br />

of their being involved in or aware of current developments in<br />

that discipline, and also in the teaching of that discipline, as being<br />

central to the quality of student learning .<br />

18. Measures need to be built into the RAE system, or elsewhere, to<br />

encourage the production of quality textbooks and electronic<br />

teaching resources. Without such measures the RAE will continue<br />

to distort the pattern of scholarship across higher education.<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Question 22: Do you agree that funds for teaching<br />

are the right source of support for scholarship?<br />

19. Not exclusively; research funding should also support scholarship.<br />

References<br />

Beckhradnia, B. (2000) Teaching, research and national policy. Paper<br />

presented to Oxford Brookes University 14 November<br />

Elton, L. (in press) Research and teaching: what are the real<br />

relationships? Teaching in Higher Education, 6(1).<br />

Healey, M. (2000) Developing the scholarship of teaching through<br />

the disciplines, Higher Education Research & Development, 19 (2),<br />

169-189.<br />

Jenkins, A. (1995) The impact of the research assessment exercise,<br />

funding and teaching quality in selected geography departments in<br />

England and Wales, Geography, 80, 367-374.<br />

J M Consulting (2000) Interactions between research teaching and other<br />

academic activities. Draft report for HEFCE, Bristol.<br />

Healey, M. (1997) Geography and education: perspectives on quality<br />

in UK higher education, Progress in Human Geography, 21 (1), 97-108.<br />

Jenkins, A. (2000) The relationship between teaching and research;<br />

where does geography stand and deliver?, Journal of Geography in<br />

Higher Education, 24(3), 325-351.<br />

Jenkins, A., Blackman, T., Lindsay, R. and Paton-Saltzberg, R. (1998)<br />

Teaching and research: student perspectives and policy implications,<br />

Studies in Higher Education, 23 (2), 127-141.<br />

Southampton Institute (2000) The relationship between research and<br />

teaching in higher education: present realities, future possibilities. Report<br />

of a Seminar organised by Southampton Institute and the HEFCE,<br />

Chilworth Manor, Southampton, 19-20 January, Southampton Institute.<br />

Watt, S. (2000) Creating synergy between policy and practice. Paper<br />

presented to Staff and Educational Development Association 5 th<br />

Annual Conference, Manchester 22 November.<br />

Copyright<br />

Copyright for all published material in PLANET is held by the<br />

LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>, unless otherwise stated.<br />

Contributors are permitted to use their material elsewhere<br />

without prior permission. However, the following note should<br />

be included: “First published in PLANET (date, issue number)”.<br />

Permission is required for reproduction or amendment by a<br />

third party.<br />

The opinions expressed in <strong>this</strong> newsletter are not necessarily<br />

those of the LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography,<br />

Earth and Environmental Sciences. Whilst every effort is made<br />

to ensure the accuracy of the content we cannot accept liability<br />

for errors or omissions.<br />

Developing ‘Field-Sim’:<br />

Software to support<br />

fieldwork<br />

Mike Sanders and Malcolm Nimmo<br />

This case study provides an insight on how small-scale projects can<br />

be used to provide effective learning products. It examines the<br />

evolution of a project from the initial rationale, through the<br />

development process and onto subsequent evaluation and<br />

modification. It also provides a good example of how educational<br />

developers/technologists can work, in partnership with lecturers, to<br />

provide solutions to learning and teaching issues.<br />

One common issue in undergraduate fieldwork is students not<br />

maximizing their educational experience when they arrive on the<br />

field site, as they do not have a conceptual picture of either the location<br />

or the intended learning outcomes. A piece of learning software<br />

named Field-Sim was designed by staff at the University of Plymouth<br />

to better prepare students for field-based water quality projects in<br />

Malta. The work was funded through the University’s Student <strong>Centre</strong>d<br />

Learning (SCL) initiative, which has financed the development of a<br />

series of small-scale learning and teaching initiatives. The resources<br />

allocated to <strong>this</strong> particular project totalled around £3000. It was<br />

essential throughout the project development that a practical and<br />

realistic approach was adopted so that a finished product would be<br />

available both within budget and on time (within a six month period).<br />

This was achieved not least through a good relationship between the<br />

educational developer/technologist and the lecturer, both parties being<br />

enthusiastic and flexible in the project framework.<br />

The aim of Field-Sim is to provide an overview of the geology and<br />

hydrology of the Maltese Islands, allowing students to become familiar<br />

with some of the key concepts they will need whilst on a residential<br />

fieldtrip in the Islands. The programme contains two distinct<br />

constituents: an interactive ‘information-section’ and a project simulator<br />

(which also contains formative questions). Upon running the<br />

programme, students are asked to work through a text-based<br />

information resource that incorporates interactive diagrams. This<br />

information originates from Maltese academics (primarily through the<br />

International Environment Institute in Malta) and lecturers running<br />

Malta field courses from Plymouth. The information gives students a<br />

solid academic background to enable them to attempt the simulated<br />

projects presented in the latter section of the package. The simulated<br />

project section allows students to focus on a particular water quality<br />

issue and then have to decide upon various approaches with respect<br />

to (i) sampling strategy and (ii) measured parameters. Data, graphs<br />

and maps, based on the students’ responses are displayed at the end<br />

of the exercise along with formative questions to test the students’<br />

ability to interpret field results. All of the data presented in the package<br />

are based on real field data, primary reference sources or from previous<br />

student project work.<br />

In order to provide the students with a learning experience, rather<br />

than an electronic ‘Cooks Tour’, the development team and lecturer<br />

identified distinct learning objectives at the beginning of the project<br />

and continuously referred back to these during the project.<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

An interactive diagram of the Maltese Aquifers<br />

The primary principle was to allow students to try something out and<br />

then be able to learn from any mistakes via informative feedback.<br />

Students were presented with a project aim, to understand and carry<br />

out water quality assessment, and then allowed to work through the<br />

simulation. At various times they would have to choose one of several<br />

practical options. Depending upon their response, they would be<br />

allowed to progress to the next stage of the simulation (correct<br />

response) or given feedback on their incorrect response. This<br />

continuous feedback approach was chosen both for pedagogical and<br />

programming reasons, where the lecturer’s initial idea was tempered<br />

by the programming constraints within the software. This provides a<br />

good example of the compromises that were made between developer<br />

and lecturer to produce a product within limited resources available.<br />

This continuous feedback solution worked very well, allowing students<br />

to deviate from a predefined path and then be guided back to that<br />

path via feedback. The alternative of allowing a student to ‘wander’<br />

would have presented a sizeable programming task and also ran the<br />

risk of a student running a project several times before arriving at an<br />

acceptable solution and therefore getting demotivated!<br />

Field-Sim was created using a powerful piece of authorware called<br />

“Asymetrix Toolbook II” which contains its own scripting language.<br />

The software provided a programming environment that allowed the<br />

rapid development of functionality and adaptation in Field-Sim.<br />

However, using <strong>this</strong> product was not without problems. The biggest<br />

issues were in publishing the program for distribution. There were also<br />

setbacks with file corruption during development which required every<br />

modified version to be saved as a separate file, so earlier uncorrupted<br />

versions of files could be returned to if need be.<br />

During the pilot study the Field-Sim package was distributed on CD.<br />

Students signed out the CDs and were required to install the software<br />

on their own personal computers or they could run a pre-installed<br />

version on the University network.<br />

One of the scheduled pre-field course briefings was held in a computer<br />

suite. This allowed student evaluation of Field-Sim to take place whilst<br />

in use. During <strong>this</strong> session both the developer and lecturer were present.<br />

From a development perspective the rationale behind the evaluation<br />

was to focus on the two areas of concern: (i) navigation and (ii) the<br />

textual introduction. Some of the pages in the project section were<br />

Working through Field-Sim<br />

rather complex but could not really be simplified by defeaturing.<br />

Therefore, navigation had to be evaluated to ensure it was intuitive.<br />

The textual introduction needed to be assessed to ensure the right<br />

level and quantity of information. The evaluation methodology used<br />

was observation, followed by a structured interview/questionnaire.<br />

Feedback from students indicated that minor modifications in the<br />

layout and colour scheme needed to be made. However, it was also<br />

encouraging to see the feedback working as intended i.e. a student<br />

would always be guided towards the correct answers and not become<br />

stuck in one particular area for too long.<br />

In development it is commendable to aspire to the high standards of<br />

functionality and appearance that are produced by the larger software<br />

houses. However, with a £3000 budget <strong>this</strong> was not always possible!<br />

The Field-Sim project was never over-ambitious and an iterative<br />

development process was fostered between academic and developer.<br />

Both parties would put forward ideas on design that would be tried<br />

out and a judgement made on whether they were achievable with<br />

the available resources. Key factors were that both parties were<br />

prepared to liaise regularly and were reliable when producing any<br />

materials requested.<br />

Field-Sim has been variously described using such words as interactive,<br />

multimedia, simulation and virtual. Some of these descriptions are<br />

perhaps a little misleading as it is a fairly modest tool technically.<br />

However, it was created with sound pedagogical principles in mind<br />

and largely achieved the objective of clarifying what was expected of<br />

a student carrying out fieldwork during the Malta Field trip. Students’<br />

use of ‘Field-Sim’ has shown it to be a useful academic preparative<br />

package in enhancing students’ academic knowledge and decision<br />

making skills in the field.<br />

If readers would like to learn more about Field-Sim they should contact<br />

Mike Sanders.<br />

Mike Sanders<br />

Learning Support Advisor<br />

University of Plymouth<br />

M.A.Sanders@plymouth.ac.uk<br />

Malcolm Nimmo<br />

Environmental Science Programme<br />

Coordinator<br />

University of Plymouth.<br />

M.Nimmo@plymouth.ac.uk<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

A Field-Based “Oil Business<br />

Game” for Honours<br />

Geology Students<br />

Gordon Walkden<br />

Introduction<br />

The inclusion of a challenging investigative theme provides a sound<br />

means of enhancing the effectiveness of field training, giving it drive<br />

and focus. When one of the prime aims is to demonstrate how<br />

accurate geological knowledge generates commercial added value<br />

and competitive advantage, then the exercise can become infectious<br />

and compulsive for all concerned. The Aberdeen University field<br />

based Oil Business Game was devised for senior Honours students<br />

who are in the last few months of their study in a department with a<br />

strong petroleum focus. It is a competitive team exercise, integrated<br />

with an optional residential field course covering the superb Upper<br />

Palaeozoic to Mesozoic geology of the SE Scottish/ NE English coast.<br />

The game takes a week to unfold.<br />

The oil game anchors the field course in applied realism, but adds<br />

excitement and fun - something special and unusual for students on<br />

the final straight of a Scottish 4 year undergraduate course! It is not<br />

an exercise in sophisticated petroleum geology, but an exercise in the<br />

data acquisition, management and decision making aspects of the<br />

processes involved. Student response is very positive and some,<br />

looking back on it, see it as a valuable introduction to the world of<br />

work.<br />

This article describes the game, not the underlying fieldwork that<br />

underpins it. Despite the oil focus, the general principles and methods<br />

of the game, including the associated computer software, are adaptable.<br />

Direct translation to other applied themes, such as aggregate extraction<br />

and water resources, would be straightforward, and the game can be<br />

simplified. A “Research Company” version is in sketch form, and<br />

doubtless other generic applications will occur to readers. All feedback<br />

is welcome. Why not join us on a course, and see if the package is<br />

transferable for your particular purposes?!<br />

The exercise<br />

The exercise simulates the activities of oil exploration and production<br />

companies in creating teams, assessing plays, seeking investment,<br />

evaluating oil prospects, conducting impact assessments, bidding for<br />

blocks, and producing oil or gas that requires to be transported from<br />

site. Integrated with the geology field course, it reinforces the<br />

geological objectives, underscores the value of accurate field<br />

observation, and illustrates the ways in which geological science can<br />

be used in support of industry. In particular, it brings home to students<br />

the extent to which diverse subdisciplines, such as palaeoecology,<br />

trace fossils, diagenesis, sedimentology and structural geology<br />

contribute to the holistic understanding necessary for accurate<br />

petroleum modelling.<br />

Individuals play both in their own right and as members of a team<br />

(company). Personal “investment cash” is earned, players placing half<br />

in their own company and half in a “portfolio” of choice in other<br />

companies. Investment is controlled through a simulated stock market<br />

(a purpose designed interactive spreadsheet, see figure 1) responsive<br />

to actual investor confidence and company performance. The initial<br />

share value of a company is set by the team at floatation but <strong>this</strong><br />

soon changes in successive rounds of bidding as market forces operate.<br />

Once formed, each company team works as a group in data gathering<br />

and interpretation exercises, and their relative effectiveness can quickly<br />

become apparent. A final share trading round is delayed to show the<br />

effects of <strong>this</strong>, when values can further change as investors move into<br />

the better looking companies.<br />

Investor capital is used by the companies to assess, bid for and develop<br />

hydrocarbon prospects. These are potential fields contained in “blocks”<br />

put up for auction by the “regulators”. Blocks are precisely defined,<br />

based on real geological maps, involving real localities, rocks and<br />

structural features that are visited and examined in detail at various<br />

stages in the field course. Students are asked to imagine that they are<br />

walking around inside potential reservoirs, emulating the virtual reality<br />

caves used by some major companies, but some blocks are never<br />

seen first hand. A certain amount of “tweaking” is obviously necessary<br />

in block specifications, to define burial depth and overburden, and<br />

some structural enhancement is sometimes necessary. A second<br />

spreadsheet is used by companies to simplify and speed up reserve<br />

calculations, recovery figures, development and production costs,<br />

environmental premiums, taxation and ultimate likely profit or loss.<br />

Specific input data are required that force competitors to consider<br />

real issues and make judgements on these, including human and<br />

environmental impacts.<br />

The reservoirs, development costs and ultimate recovery figures are,<br />

of course, imaginary, but the outturns used by the regulators are<br />

based upon the same assumptions as used by the teams. Actual daily<br />

oil and gas prices are used in calculations. The winning team (company)<br />

and winning individual (shareholder) will be those who have made<br />

the most of their investments. The results are calculated through the<br />

spreadsheet and are made known on the last night of the field course.<br />

The main stages of the exercise<br />

The Business game operates during the evenings, whilst the field course<br />

occupies the days. What the game generates, though, is an absolute<br />

need to examine certain localities and acquire specific data. The<br />

game and the fieldwork mutually reinforce one another.<br />

Day 1: Outline of Business Game.<br />

The exercise is outlined in its separate stages, and the work and<br />

materials required in support, are explained. Laptops with information<br />

and software are distributed.<br />

Day 2: Skills statements; allocation of personal<br />

investment capital, team building.<br />

Individuals publish an A4 poster of relevant personal and scientific<br />

attributes, and a notional cash reward of £100m is given to each.<br />

Statements are reviewed by all; the fundamentals of team building<br />

are reviewed and a procedure to create company teams is agreed<br />

and implemented.<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Figure 1: Example of part of the main Stockmarket Spreadsheet<br />

This edited version of the Stockmarket Spreadsheet for Easter 2000 shows the investment details of just 2 of the 5 teams or companies (blocks of data under Company “2 – Total G”<br />

and Company “5 – Oilyend M”). Student names are on the left, grouped in teams of 4. Share purchases by individuals are listed across the page. R1 to R5 represent 5 successive<br />

bidding rounds, in which they placed half their investment in their own company and distributed half across the remainder. The row marked “starting share value” shows the evolution<br />

of share value during these successive bidding rounds. Of the 2 companies shown, one suffered a declining share value and one experienced an increase. The “<strong>Centre</strong>” invested £400m<br />

in each company in round 4. The “spend” and “value” columns show the total investment by each individual in each company and the final value of <strong>this</strong> investment at the close of the<br />

stockmarket. Similarly, columns 1 (total value of spend) and 2 (current value of investments) keep overall track of each individual share portfolio across all companies (3 companies<br />

are not shown here). Note that by <strong>this</strong> intermediate stage in the game, individual profits of up to 11% have already been made, and there are some proportional losses (column 3).<br />

Total company income, available for spending by them on blocks, appears in one of the bottom rows.<br />

At the conclusion of the game, when profits and losses have been calculated, share values have moved ahead proportional to the profits made by the companies. This is calculated on<br />

separate company spreadsheets and not shown here. However, the final share values are entered in the row at the top (“CO1” to “CO5”), and the spreadsheet can then calculate the<br />

final value of individual share portfolios. Company 3 was the winner. Columns 4 and 5 are the end of game equivalents of columns 2 and 3 and show the final values of individual share<br />

portfolios, and the percentage profit or loss percentages, following the variable performance of the companies. Student J was the winning investor.<br />

Your advert could be here!<br />

Would a wider readership increase the sales of your product? Would PLANET be an appropriate shop window for your product? If<br />

the answer is YES to either of these questions, then read on!<br />

Multiple copies of PLANET are sent free of charge to all Higher Education academic departments that teach Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences, alone or in combination. It is also sent to some Further Education Colleges that offer degree programmes in<br />

these disciplines. Copies are also sent to relevant professional bodies, as well as all other <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>s. We even have an overseas<br />

mailing list.<br />

Circulation is typically around 1000 per edition, and PLANET is also freely available to download at our website http://www.gees.ac.uk<br />

as a .pdf file.<br />

Conferences, workshops, meetings and any other events will be given free publicity, as will adverts for non-profit making products.<br />

The following are the advertisement rates for 2001, inclusive of VAT (All rates are for a two-colour print, as per <strong>this</strong> edition):<br />

Full Page £300 (277 mm x 190mm or, 297mm x 210mm) Back Cover £500* (297mm x 210mm)<br />

Half Page £150 (132mm x 178mm)<br />

Insets £50 (A6 - 148mm x 105mm or A7 - 74mm x 105mm)<br />

Quarter Page £80 (132mm x 84mm)<br />

Inserts £75** (1000 copies, size A5, to be provided by advertiser)<br />

* Full colour. ** Inserts will be charged at £50 if an advert is also placed.<br />

A 10% discount is given on a series of three or more advertisements.<br />

The deadline for inclusion of adverts in the next edition of PLANET is April 1 st 2001.<br />

Further details can be obtained by calling Steve Gaskin on 01752 233535 or by email: sgaskin@plymouth.ac.uk<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Day 3: Formation of companies; sale of shares.<br />

Allocation of plays to companies for prospect<br />

appraisal.<br />

Companies reveal their names and internal organisation. Share dealing,<br />

using the stockmarket spreadsheet, is explained. The nominal value of<br />

shares is £1m each, but each company can set its own share value at<br />

floatation. During successive rounds of share dealing, players must<br />

invest half their personal wealth in companies other than their own.<br />

Stockmarket calculations are run after each round, and share values<br />

are seen to fluctuate according to the relative appeal of companies.<br />

Most players get the hang of <strong>this</strong> quickly, and some bid strategically to<br />

manipulate share values. No overspend or borrowing is allowed.<br />

At the close of the stock market companies have up to £500m each<br />

in share investment. This varies, however, and hot favourite companies<br />

are immediately apparent. To top <strong>this</strong> up the regulators allocate paid<br />

consultancy work to all the companies. This takes the form of a<br />

hydrocarbon play appraisal of rocks they actually encounter (simple<br />

definitions such as Carboniferous, Permian, Jurassic and Cretaceous<br />

work well), to be researched over the next 2 days. .<br />

Day 4: Preparation of play appraisals.<br />

Companies work on their allocated plays. They are asked for the<br />

likely hydrocarbon sources, migration fairways, seals and reservoir rocks<br />

within (and outside) their given plays, and for likely trap types, porosity<br />

and recovery values and an assessment of possible exploration and<br />

production problems. This involves literature search and the<br />

preparation of a Powerpoint and/or poster presentation.<br />

Day 5: Team presentations on plays. Fees are allocated;<br />

Blocks are revealed.<br />

Companies give independent presentations on their allocated plays.<br />

The setting is a formal government enquiry where there are influential<br />

personnel who may ask tricky questions. Other companies also ask<br />

questions, and they are expected to make notes. A (pretty unrealistic)<br />

performance-related, fee of up to £400m is allocated to each company.<br />

The license blocks are then announced. There are around 20 of<br />

these, comprising areally-defined production rights for which the<br />

companies must bid competitively. The blocks are 4km square (16km 2 )<br />

on 1:50,000 geological maps, relating directly to areas most of which<br />

are also seen in the field. Some gross simplifications are made to save<br />

time and materials. For example, teams are asked to regard present<br />

day outcrop as if it is a 3 dimensional slice through the subsurface,<br />

and the standard map cross section substitutes for seismic data. No<br />

distinction is made between the exploration and production phases.<br />

All blocks on offer contain at least one obvious possible oil trap and,<br />

for the purposes of the game, most contain at least one prospective<br />

reservoir. To be safe, however, students have to look for good reasons<br />

why a trap might not be effective, adjusting their bids according to<br />

perceived risk. Broadly speaking, the regulators are not out to mislead,<br />

which, again is unrealistic, since reality can be very fickle!<br />

Day 6: Bid applications for blocks are prepared, and<br />

handed in as sealed bids.<br />

Using a second spreadsheet, companies must calculate a likely volume<br />

and value of recoverable hydrocarbon in place and assess the difficulties<br />

and costs of recovery, including human and environmental factors.<br />

They must also cope with a variable taxation regime, which encourages<br />

development of small fields. The spreadsheet requires input of data<br />

that force quantification of real issues. A minimum profit margin of<br />

25% on outlay must be built into bids. A confidential file of these is<br />

submitted by each company to the regulators by a previously agreed<br />

deadline. Teams sometimes work on these into the small hours.<br />

Day 7: Sealed bids are opened; blocks are allocated;<br />

final company values are calculated through the shares<br />

spreadsheet; winners and losers.<br />

The regulators now sort through the sealed bids, block by block, keeping<br />

track of company acquisitions and preventing overspend. The regulators’<br />

own calculations (development costs and value of recoverable<br />

hydrocarbon) define the notional outturn for each block. A “star”<br />

system enables companies to prioritise “hot shot” blocks, which are<br />

dealt with first. The profit or loss that individual companies make on<br />

blocks is calculated through the Company’s own spreadsheet. This<br />

contains all the shareholder and share value data, and the resultant<br />

overall profit/loss on acquired blocks generates a proportional (and<br />

sometimes substantial) rise or fall in share value.<br />

The winning company is the one with the highest final share value, but<br />

in order to calculate the individual winners the final share values of<br />

each company are entered back on the main stockmarket spreadsheet<br />

(see Figure 1). Driven by the new company share values, the overall<br />

value of the share portfolio held by each individual is displayed. Some<br />

players will have made losses (tears and recriminations) and some<br />

large gains (drinks all round). Two results define the overall individual<br />

winner(s); the highest proportional gain and the largest windfall income.<br />

These don’t necessarily coincide, and two winners may be generated.<br />

The main learning outcomes are:<br />

• In- depth knowledge and understanding of the geology of a<br />

selected area.<br />

• Understanding of the direct application and value of field study.<br />

• Understanding of how information derived from unrelated<br />

subdisciplines feeds an integrated, holistic picture that can inform<br />

commercial judgements.<br />

• Development of intellectual, self-management, practical,<br />

communication, numerical, computing, interpersonal and<br />

teamworking skills.<br />

• Understanding of the means by which pooled skills, effective<br />

teamwork and focused activity aid decision making and can create<br />

added value.<br />

• Experience of the conflicting balances between fact finding,<br />

residual uncertainty and real deadlines in a competitive<br />

environment.<br />

•<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

• Awareness of the roles of business organisations, stock markets<br />

and central and local government mediation in relation to resource<br />

exploitation.<br />

• Awareness of the effects of business decisions on people and the<br />

environment.<br />

The ideal requirements of the exercise are:<br />

• Good centres with dedicated meeting rooms, where “stuff” can<br />

be left out during the day.<br />

• Around 20 students working in teams of 4.<br />

• Multiple copies of local geological maps.<br />

• One laptop computer for each team, with basic information and<br />

spreadsheet-based software, including: a company data<br />

spreadsheet for recording all income and financial transactions, a<br />

taxation calculator, a reserves and upstream/ downstream costs<br />

calculator.<br />

• A laptop and portable projector for staff with the stockmarket<br />

spreadsheet that gives a display, on demand, of team performance,<br />

stockmarket fluctuation and game results.<br />

• A small library of relevant reference books and papers<br />

• Lots of flip chart paper, and lots of beer and/or coffee!<br />

Some features of the Game<br />

The game has already been run for three successive years, and it has<br />

evolved, particularly through the development of the associated<br />

software, but the game can be run without <strong>this</strong>. Greater sophistication<br />

would be achieved by using the results of actual seismic and drilling<br />

investigations through the area, and reduced sophistication could<br />

involve dropping the stockmarket stage and concentrating on field<br />

and evening team exercises.<br />

The rules are very flexible, and there have been some surprises. For<br />

example, in 2000, when Oil Company Mergers were much in the air,<br />

two of the strongest teams pooled resources and created a joint<br />

company. The reaction from the excluded teams was a defensive<br />

data trading and non competition deal. We awaited the result with<br />

trepidation. The merged team became overconfident, and nearly<br />

crashed. Weak, overconfident management led to insufficient delegation<br />

and information flow to generate enough realistic bids. They over<br />

priced these and got landed with several turkeys.<br />

On another occasion a student needed a day’s absence for a crucial<br />

interview. Rather than disadvantage either him or his team, we made<br />

him an independent consultant, charged with making as much out of<br />

paid consultancy work with companies as the others made through<br />

the normal rules. He was given the actual results, shown the workings,<br />

but forbidden to divulge detail. His services were in great demand in<br />

the early stages and he very nearly won the game!<br />

Most students enter into the spirit of the exercise very rapidly, and<br />

some of the introductory parts are designed to encourage them to<br />

take ownership. The game seems to generate a real sense of fun, but<br />

also one of serious competition. There is a knife edge balance to be<br />

maintained between the two.<br />

Follow-up and student reaction<br />

On the last evening of the course we generally hold a follow-up session,<br />

in particular tracking the skills development that the course has<br />

mediated. This promotes much discussion, both of the extent to which<br />

the Business Game mirrors reality and of the broader educational<br />

outcomes. This retrospective analysis is vital, raising awareness of the<br />

issues involved and extending student self knowledge. There are more<br />

thorough ways in which <strong>this</strong> could be approached, for example using<br />

a formal written self appraisal of learning outcomes.<br />

Course assessment is presently done on the basis of a formal<br />

submission that includes submitted field notes, copies of materials<br />

prepared in connection with the game, and an account of some<br />

detailed aspect of the course. The outcome of the game plays no<br />

part in the assessment. Most students put such intensive effort into<br />

the course that we are reluctant to allow <strong>this</strong> submission to be an<br />

extensive and time consuming part of the exercise. In 2000, we asked<br />

students for a detailed account of one aspect of the course they<br />

found most interesting, expecting a geological focus, but many chose<br />

to highlight the Business Game. Here are some of their reactions:<br />

“The Business Game was a very enjoyable and worthwhile exercise.<br />

The game combined real geology with the business side, which previously<br />

I have had no experience of.”<br />

“I worked with a team of people I would not normally have worked with,<br />

very much like real life.”<br />

“The Business Game provided a good source of transferable skills throughout<br />

the field trip. Many useful points were illustrated, and some of the realities<br />

of running a business were realised.”<br />

“I found it very useful - enhancing my knowledge about the petroleum<br />

system as a whole and re-tuning my geological map interpretations.”<br />

A black shale horizon shows where Coccolith production and bioturbation<br />

stopped completely during an anoxic event in the Chalk sea.<br />

Reservoir seal or production barrier?<br />

Mike Simmons leads a discussion. Cenomanian Chalk, South Ferriby.<br />

“The information collected during the day was not simply forgotten in our<br />

notebooks.”<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Urban Planning: A New<br />

Collaborative Learning<br />

Environment<br />

Chris Webster, Jeff Johns and Kioe Shen Yap<br />

This article explores a new teaching pedagogy which provides a<br />

learning environment for students studying urban issues and policies;<br />

it uses a combination of Web based distance learning and on-line<br />

expert tutors. This method allows flexible study modes for the students<br />

and tutors, and transcends barriers of office hours, global time-zones<br />

and physical location.<br />

Oil exploration must take second place when a block bearing an<br />

Ichthyosaur skull needs to be lifted up the cliff!<br />

Bituminous Shales, Port Mulgrave.<br />

“The game also focuses on the social and political implications of business<br />

decisions where commercial development is likely to affect people and<br />

the environment.”<br />

And negative comments? - well there was just one: The course<br />

leader has a known penchant for bakery shops, and introduces<br />

students to one of the best in Britain, at the centre of Beverley, near<br />

Hull. Following <strong>this</strong> enlightening experience, one student wrote: “I<br />

would just like to note that a negative aspect of the trip was that it<br />

brought home to me just how useless the ‘Auld Toon Café” (the Aberdeen<br />

campus baker’s shop) really is”!. It is nice to see that a good student<br />

clearly recognises the important things in life!<br />

Conclusions<br />

Field-based exercises such as <strong>this</strong> take (let’s face it) weeks to prepare<br />

and develop, let alone to run. We need to be certain that such time<br />

is well spent. There are several aspects to <strong>this</strong>. Foremost is the<br />

valuable “deep learning” experience for the students, in terms of<br />

durable main learning outcomes. Such exercises present a substantial<br />

challenge and can provide a good real life analogue. Added to these,<br />

though, is the reinforcement provided by the sheer fun of participation<br />

and the sense of adventure in discovering intricacies and encountering<br />

the unexpected. For those in charge, perhaps the best reward is<br />

experiencing and participating in the dynamics of a group of intelligent<br />

young adults. It provides a deeper level of engagement with these<br />

developing personalities than provided by mere social interaction,<br />

and reveals that our future is likely to be in good hands. Please<br />

contact me if you would further information.<br />

Gordon Walkden<br />

Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology<br />

University of Aberdeen<br />

g.walkden@abdn.ac.uk<br />

Collaborative learning is particularly important in the education and<br />

training of urban managers and planners (UNESCO, 1998).<br />

Networking between policy makers and the public within a city,<br />

between cities and between countries should result in a more efficient<br />

process of policy evaluation and innovation diffusion (Healy, 1997).<br />

The Internet provides an efficient flexible tool for educating managers<br />

whilst also providing the tools and skills required for international<br />

networking (Stiles, 2000). In the learning environment outlined below<br />

on Asian cities (and the Virtual Policy Studio), interaction can be<br />

engineered by carefully structured exercises and tutor on-line expert<br />

intervention in collaborative problem-solving ‘rooms’. Active<br />

collaboration between participants proves less useful than the tutorparticipant<br />

interaction. The study mode of the participants in <strong>this</strong><br />

example was part-time, mixed work/home study, and remote (other<br />

countries).<br />

Institutional capacity building in Asian cities: the<br />

context<br />

Asia is rapidly urbanizing and so is poverty. Within the next two<br />

decades, a majority of the population will live in urban areas and a<br />

majority of the urban population will be poor. Poverty is not just a<br />

lack of income, but also of physical and social assets and of recognition<br />

and influence that prevents the poor playing the role of contributor<br />

to, and beneficiary of, development. Local governments will have an<br />

increasing role to play in poverty alleviation. Through measures such<br />

as the provision of basic infrastructure (to improve living conditions),<br />

the application of good governance (to enhance participation) and<br />

urban economic development (to increase the demand for labour,<br />

goods and services), local governments can support and empower<br />

the urban poor to improve their situation. However, many local<br />

government staff lack the knowledge and skills to work with and for<br />

the urban poor.<br />

Urban poverty alleviation is only one of many new tasks for local<br />

governments; others include urban environmental management,<br />

monitoring of privatised infrastructure and services, city marketing<br />

and investment promotion. Having to assume roles and responsibilities<br />

previously within the domain of the central government, local<br />

governments are entering new and uncharted territory. To perform<br />

their tasks well, local government staff need a better understanding<br />

of their new situation and of the experience of others to enable<br />

them to develop new responses to old and new challenges. Effective<br />

responses often require changes in the organisational arrangements<br />

within local governments and institutional arrangements between<br />

government departments. An effective and efficient local government<br />

requires a new government culture and government staff with new<br />

knowledge, skills and attitudes. Local governments all over the world<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

are confronted with these challenges and are searching for answers.<br />

The challenge of making cities ‘work’ is more than a local government<br />

issue however. More generally, the requirement is to build the institutional<br />

capacity of urban governance at all spatial levels and in each sector. This<br />

includes voluntary organizations, NGOs and private firms. Urban services<br />

are not so easily categorised into public and private these days. Self<br />

organised neighbourhood groups in Bangladesh supply their own garbage<br />

collection services. Water cleansing plants in India are built under privatepublic<br />

partnerships. Private manufacturing firms in China provide housing,<br />

security, and educational services for employees. Entrepreneurial<br />

neighbourhood firms supply professional classes in Jakarta and Manila<br />

with private environmental management and local planning. Rapidly<br />

growing cities struggling against economic, environmental and political<br />

hardships require a well-meshed matrix of agencies each contributing<br />

to the institutional infrastructure of urban ‘governance’.<br />

Virtual Policy Studios (VPS)<br />

The VPS project is a joint venture between the <strong>Centre</strong> for Education in<br />

the Built Environment (CEBE) at Cardiff University, the Asian Institute of<br />

Technology and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and<br />

Pacific Human Settlements Division. It is a prototype capacity building<br />

tool (Urban Management <strong>Centre</strong>, 2000) designed to foster the exchange<br />

of innovation and best practice among managers of Asia’s cities and to<br />

encourage thoughtful adaptation and adoption of new urban<br />

management approaches. VPS provides a virtual collaborative learning<br />

space containing online learning and teaching material, case studies,<br />

exercises, discussions and online experts. PLANET readers are invited<br />

to take a look at the Municipal Finance VPS (MFVPS) that ran during the<br />

spring of 2000 (Johns and Webster, 1999). Students of Urban Geography<br />

or the Geography of Development will find some fascinating case study<br />

material here and may be interested in using it for essays, projects and<br />

dissertations. Participants of the MFVPS are mid to senior level<br />

government officers in cities such as Manila, Bangkok and Delhi and the<br />

VPS offers insights into what it is like to manage such complex cities.<br />

Persistent students might find their way through the virtual corridors of<br />

the MFVPS building to another VPS - on Environmental Management<br />

Systems. This has less discussion in it but more resource material and<br />

more graphics. It should be of interest to those undertaking project<br />

work on urban environments. The two figures give a flavour of the VPS<br />

learning environment.<br />

The VPS differs from many other managed virtual environments in having<br />

a very fast development time. It is effectively a Web based threaded<br />

discussion list intimately linked to a Web page based resource library<br />

and online links. The threading is used to organise and manage the flow<br />

of learning, the material to be accessed, the exercises to be undertaken,<br />

the responses from the participants and the feedback from the tutors<br />

or on-line experts. It also provides collaborative discussion and learning<br />

spaces, and communication links between tutor and participants etc.<br />

The use of the Web based discussion list also takes care of participant<br />

registration, authentication, progress tracking and allows for subsequent<br />

statistical analysis.<br />

Although Internet delivered teaching has been used for many years<br />

now for a large range of disciplines, its potential in training professional<br />

planners in the workplace seems to have been largely ignored. The<br />

specific niche of collaborative learning in the networked environment in<br />

which policy makers work remains still to be utilised. The VPS project<br />

therefore offers new learning opportunities for both students and for<br />

practising professionals.<br />

References:<br />

Healey, P. (1997) Collaborative Planning: Shaping Places in Fragmented Societies,<br />

Macmillan, London.<br />

Johns J and Webster W . (1999) Municipal Finance VPS: Internet-based Training<br />

Workshop on Municipal Finance for the Network of Local Government Training<br />

and Research Institutions in Asia and the Pacific [online]. Cardiff University.<br />

Available from HtmlResAnchor<br />

http://t062.cpla.cf.ac.uk/wbimages/mfvps/intro/intro.html [Accessed 20<br />

December 2000].<br />

Stiles, M J. (2000) Effective Learning and the Virtual Learning Environment.<br />

Proceedings: EUNIS 2000 - Towards Virtual Universities, Instytut Informatyki<br />

Politechniki Poznanskiej, Poznan April 2000, The Learning Development <strong>Centre</strong>,<br />

Staffordshire University, UK. 2000.<br />

UNESCO (1998) Educational Innovation for Sustainable Development:<br />

Proceedings of the Third UNESCO-ACEID (Asia-Pacific <strong>Centre</strong> of Educational<br />

Innovation for Development) International Conference, held in Bangkok<br />

December 1-4, UNESCO Principal Regional Office PO Box 967 Bangkok 10110,<br />

Thailand.<br />

Urban Management <strong>Centre</strong> (2000). Capacity Building. Asian Institute of<br />

Technology, Thailand. Available from HtmlResAnchor<br />

http://www.hsd.ait.ac.th/umc/cb/cb.html [Accessed 20 December 2000].<br />

The Urban Managers’ club as a metaphor<br />

Contemporary resources straight to the desks of busy Urban Managers<br />

Chris Webster<br />

Department of City and Regional<br />

Planning Cardiff University<br />

Webster@cardiff.ac.uk<br />

Jeff Johns<br />

<strong>Centre</strong> for Education in the Built<br />

Environment / Department<br />

of Architecture Cardiff University<br />

JohnsJR@cardiff.ac.uk<br />

Kioe Sheng Yap<br />

UN Economic and Social<br />

Commission for Asia and Pacific<br />

yapks@ait.ac.th<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Synergy:<br />

The Greenwich<br />

Experience<br />

Mike McGibbon<br />

The new LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> has the task of supporting<br />

teaching and learning in the three separate disciplines of Geography,<br />

Earth and Environmental Sciences, each of which has distinctive aims<br />

and cultures. None the less, the three subjects do share some<br />

important common ground in terms of curriculum, and certainly have<br />

much to learn from each other in terms of learning and teaching<br />

methods. While respecting their different identities and traditions,<br />

the <strong>Centre</strong> will therefore be encouraging the three subjects to work<br />

more closely together. This development at the national level is<br />

paralleled by closer collaboration within a number of institutions.<br />

Greenwich University provides a particularly good example. The aim<br />

of <strong>this</strong> short article is therefore to show how recent changes in our<br />

school reflect increasing integration in the study of the environment.<br />

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences was formed in 1996<br />

through the merger of the University’s schools of Earth Science and<br />

Environmental Science. The School initially offered BSc (Hons) degrees<br />

in Geology and Applied Geochemistry, followed serially by<br />

Environmental Earth Science, Engineering Geology, Geography (BA<br />

and BSc), GIS, and Natural Resource Management programmes<br />

through the early-mid 1990s.<br />

The undergraduate programmes offered in the School since <strong>this</strong> time<br />

have covered a wide range of inter-related subject matter, and a process<br />

of sharing modules between programmes has been progressing since<br />

1995. However, it became clear that the pace and scale of integration<br />

should be much greater. Guidance from benchmarking panels, funding<br />

councils and the research activities of academics indicated that a more<br />

integrated and multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the<br />

environment is required. The environment is complex, multi-faceted<br />

and ever changing. Students require a range of knowledge, analytical<br />

capabilities and critical faculties to cope with <strong>this</strong> dynamic world,<br />

including the ability to synthesise and integrate information, and to<br />

solve problems by drawing upon information across disciplinary<br />

boundaries. Following <strong>this</strong> philosophy, the School of Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences engaged in a root and branch appraisal of all<br />

its undergraduate degrees in 1999 with a view to focusing on a smaller<br />

number of integrated programmes drawing upon the skills and interests<br />

of physical and human geographers, environmental scientists and<br />

geologists. As such, the School has been implementing a strategy that<br />

is consistent with the coming together of Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences within the LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>.<br />

The School’s approach emerged from a number of observations. First,<br />

that the task of addressing environmental problems increasingly involves<br />

integrated research by teams of geographers, geologists and<br />

environmental scientists; second, that there is increased support for<br />

inter/multi-disciplinary environmental research; and, third, (given the<br />

first two), that there is potential for greater integration of the subjects<br />

in the education of undergraduate students. Increasingly, colleagues<br />

have felt that the boundaries between Geography, Geology and<br />

Environmental Science have been growing more permeable.<br />

After a lengthy period of discussion within the school, the decision<br />

was taken to restructure the undergraduate degree provision and to<br />

focus on the three subject areas: Geology, Environmental Science and<br />

Geography (BSc and BA), with Geographic Information Systems acting<br />

as a powerful integrating technology for all subjects. At the same time,<br />

the restructuring offered the School an opportunity to re-examine<br />

programme content and approaches to teaching, learning and<br />

assessment in order to improve students’ higher learning skills,<br />

transferable skills and, ultimately, their employability. The subject<br />

benchmarking statements, the array of FDTL resources available for<br />

geographers, geologists and environmental scientists and external<br />

examiners’ valuable comments were all influential in shaping the changes<br />

that have been made.<br />

The most significant overall change in the structure of the School’s<br />

undergraduate provision has been the creation of a single <strong>Subject</strong><br />

Group, “Earth and Environmental Sciences”, within which sit Geography<br />

(BSc and BA), Geology, Environmental Science and GIS. A wider range<br />

of coursework, fieldwork and other assessment types has also been<br />

introduced across the School, but at the same time the overall volume<br />

of assessment has been reduced in favour of greater emphasis on<br />

raising the quality of discussion, debate and critical/evaluative thinking.<br />

In addition, a new school-wide learning support and tutorial system<br />

has been introduced to help the students improve their learning skills<br />

at levels 1 and 2.<br />

The final year dissertation is regarded as a key measure of the quality<br />

of a student graduating from the School. Accordingly, it occupies the<br />

entire first semester of the final year, making it unique in the UK. The<br />

students then complete their studies in semester two by taking four<br />

optional courses from a list of 16, which are shared between the<br />

programmes.<br />

Fieldwork, both in the UK and overseas, will continue to play a central<br />

role in the School’s taught programmes. New integrated field courses<br />

are being developed <strong>this</strong> year and will see groups of geographers,<br />

geologists and environmental scientists working together in ways that<br />

will enable them to develop respect for the complementary<br />

contributions each subject can make to understanding the environment.<br />

The School’s new programmes were formally validated in May 2000<br />

and were implemented at levels 1 and 2 in September, with the<br />

overwhelming support of continuing students. We feel that our<br />

approach is consistent with the closer collaboration implied by the<br />

creation of the LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Earth<br />

and Environmental Sciences, and are confident that the programmes<br />

will prove to be exciting, informative and educational for students. At<br />

the same time, we hope that colleagues elsewhere will be interested<br />

in the School’s approach, and it is our intention to report on the<br />

progress and impact of various aspects of the restructured programmes<br />

over time. If you would like to know more about the Greenwich<br />

experience, please do get in touch.<br />

Mike McGibbon<br />

University of Greenwich<br />

M.J.McGibbon@greenwich.ac.uk<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> Activities,<br />

Developments & Projects<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> Launches into Action<br />

The LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for <strong>GEES</strong> officially began its busy<br />

calendar of organising learning and teaching conferences in the Autumn<br />

Term of 2000. Our two launch events, one held in London and one<br />

held in Edinburgh, were both successful and well-attended. Both<br />

conferences entitled ‘Academic Review: Supporting our Disciplines’<br />

provided an introduction to the new Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)<br />

Academic Review system. The new system is to be introduced in<br />

January 2002 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and is already<br />

operating in Scotland.<br />

The first event, held at the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute<br />

of British Geographers in London on September 26 th was attended<br />

by over 100 delegates. The day started with Professor Brian Chalkley,<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> Director, introducing the concept of the new <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong> and the role it has to play in identifying the changing learning<br />

and teaching needs of the three discipline communities.<br />

Then, a series of four parallel workshops were run on various features<br />

of the new Academic Review system. These were (a) using the QAA<br />

benchmarking statement for Geography, (b) using the QAA<br />

benchmarking statement for Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences<br />

and Environmental Studies, (c) preparing a programme specification,<br />

and (d) enhancing the quality of the students’ learning experience.<br />

In the afternoon, Peter Milton, Director of Programme Review at the<br />

QAA, addressed the audience with details about the new Academic<br />

Review process. A question and answer session then ensued.<br />

The following excerpts from the delegates’ evaluation returns evidence<br />

the success of the conference:<br />

‘Useful summary of the current situation. Best point: discussion with fellow<br />

sufferers!’<br />

‘The day revealed some common problems and it reinforced ideas<br />

concerning what needs to be done in departments preparing for the new<br />

system of Academic Review’.<br />

‘Very informative session on programme specification. Clarified a number<br />

of points of concern’.<br />

‘Good presentations, but greater opportunities for questioning could have<br />

been given, so departments can learn from one another’<br />

‘The size of the lunch rolls led to some difficulties – eating such a roll with<br />

squidgy filling one-handed whilst standing up was not easy!’<br />

A smaller but somewhat similar event was repeated at the University<br />

of Edinburgh in October for the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>’s Scottish contingent.<br />

David Bottomley, Associate Head of the QAA in Scotland, provided<br />

the key-note address. Again, feedback from the event suggested that<br />

delegates found the day engaging and thought provoking, though few<br />

welcomed the prospect of the work involved in preparing for QAA.<br />

(PLEASE NOTE: The LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for <strong>GEES</strong> is not<br />

responsible for the design of the new QAA procedures but is keen to help<br />

our three disciplines prepare for the pleasures in store!).<br />

Peter Milton delivering his key-note at the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> launch event in<br />

London, September 2000.<br />

New lectures workshop<br />

The first <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> workshop for new and<br />

recently appointed teaching staff<br />

23-24 May 2000 University of Birmingham<br />

Overview<br />

This workshop aimed to help newly appointed teaching staff in<br />

Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences become better teachers<br />

more quickly. During <strong>this</strong> two day residential event participants had<br />

the opportunity to:<br />

• learn about and evaluate a range of approaches, methods<br />

and resources for teaching, learning and assessment in<br />

Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences;<br />

• appreciate how general training in teaching, learning and<br />

assessment in higher education needs to be interpreted,<br />

adapted and supplemented for effective use in our three<br />

disciplines;<br />

• share experiences and ideas on teaching both with other<br />

new teaching staff and with experienced practitioners;<br />

• create plans to improve their teaching and extend their<br />

continuing professional development;<br />

• evaluate the workshop and help the staff to improve it for<br />

future years.<br />

The workshop was run by a team of geographers and earth and<br />

environmental scientists, who are all experienced in teaching and<br />

learning issues. It was led by and organised by Gordon Clark, from<br />

the University of Lancaster. In the light of the success of <strong>this</strong> pilot<br />

event, a similar workshop will be run at the University of Birmingham<br />

on 21-22 May 2001.<br />

Feedback from a Participant<br />

Having started in January at the University of Sussex, as a Teaching<br />

Fellow, I found the workshop to be most valuable in pointing out the<br />

importance of teaching in the University environment. The workshop<br />

helped me to reflect on the courses I have taught and to consider<br />

changing aims and methods. Particularly informative was the session<br />

on ‘Lecturing in our <strong>Subject</strong>’ because of the good balance between<br />

reflecting on our experiences and tips for enhancing lectures.<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

The emphasis on the development of a more active-learning-based<br />

approach was helpful because it coincided with my interests and<br />

observations that <strong>this</strong> method is able to engage students’ attention<br />

and increase their learning effort. However, the workshop also<br />

increased my awareness of a nagging thought that the demands to<br />

improve one’s teaching come on top of other increasing demands on<br />

one’s time and budget, such as research and administration.<br />

The organisers and other participants ensured that the workshop<br />

was a very valuable and enjoyable experience.<br />

Uwe Dornbusch<br />

University of Sussex<br />

u.dornbusch@sussex.ac.uk<br />

Other comments:<br />

“Realising that much quality help and advice is available to me in many<br />

different forms”.<br />

“Meeting and talking to staff and delegates. The feeling of common<br />

experiences / challenges and resultant camaraderie. Being involved in<br />

such a well planned / organised event with enthusiastic people”.<br />

“Meeting colleagues in similar circumstances but from different institutions<br />

– opportunities to share and exchange and support. The positive and<br />

supportive nature of the experienced leaders”.<br />

Geological Society of America:<br />

Summit 2000<br />

Reno, Nevada: November 9-18<br />

The Geological Society of America’s mission is “to be a broad, unifying<br />

society that fosters understanding of earth systems, supports its<br />

members and addresses human needs”. As stated in the conference<br />

programme “these values are embedded within the activities of the<br />

Summit 2000 meeting, which provides a forum for scientific debate, a<br />

venue to meet with our colleagues, and an opportunity to discuss the<br />

challenges in earth science education and share a public voice on<br />

current issues that challenge our science.” (For more information<br />

about the Society visit its web-site at http://www.geosociety.org/).<br />

Helen King and Lawrie Phipps attended the conference (partly<br />

subsidised by the LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for <strong>GEES</strong>), in order<br />

to promote the <strong>Centre</strong>’s activities, seek out possible international<br />

collaboration opportunities, and to investigate the state of play in<br />

Geoscience learning and teaching in the USA.<br />

From left to right: Lawrie Phipps, Helen King and Roger Suthren at GSA<br />

2000.<br />

Over the four day period of the conference, almost 100 presentations<br />

took place on education and educational research as well as poster<br />

sessions, organised discussions and meetings covering a range of<br />

educational topics. Discussions were not restricted to the teaching<br />

of Geology; Earth Systems Science is a major feature of learning and<br />

teaching in the USA and includes interactions within and between<br />

the hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and lithosphere, therefore<br />

fully embracing geography, earth and environmental sciences.<br />

Some of the information, resources and examples of interesting<br />

practice gathered at the conference will be disseminated via the<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>’s workshops and other activities in the coming months.<br />

One of the most exciting new developments showcased and discussed<br />

extensively was the Digital Library for Earth Systems Education<br />

(DLESE) http://www.dlese.org/. This new, Federally-funded initiative<br />

has many parallels with the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>’s own Information Gateway<br />

project - Tellus. Discussions between the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> and DLESE<br />

staff were very positive and further collaborative work will be actively<br />

pursued. The issues of metadata standards and interoperability across<br />

the two projects were discussed and an exchange of ideas and views<br />

will be set up electronically in the near future.<br />

Contacts were reinforced with the National Association of Geosience<br />

Teachers (NAGT) http://www.nagt.org/. This is a USA-based<br />

organisation but with many overseas members and it also embraces<br />

a broad definition of Geoscience. Many NAGT members are also<br />

involved with the International Geoscience Education Organisation<br />

(IGEO) http://reaction.psc.sc.edu/cse/igeo.html and these two bodies<br />

provide excellent opportunities for international collaboration.<br />

So, if you are interested in developing overseas contacts in Geoscience<br />

Education, do get in touch with the above organisations or contact<br />

the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> in Plymouth.<br />

Helen King and Lawrie Phipps*<br />

National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong><br />

hking@plymouth.ac.uk<br />

(*now at LTSN Technologies <strong>Centre</strong>, York)<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Staff and Educational Development<br />

Association (SEDA)<br />

Annual Conference, Manchester<br />

Conference <strong>Centre</strong>: 21-22 November 2000<br />

“Staff and educational developers have tended to work collaboratively to<br />

promote and share ideas and good practice with the aim of improving<br />

student learning.” (Rakesh Bhanot, Chair: SEDA Conference Committee).<br />

The work of staff and educational developers has expanded considerably<br />

over the last few years to become involved in strategic and policy issues<br />

as well as research and development in higher education learning and<br />

teaching. This broadening was reflected in the annual conference which<br />

was attended by educational developers, learning technologists and senior<br />

lecturers, as well as staff from several <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>s.<br />

The conference was preceded by a workshop day targeted at educational<br />

developers and Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) staff.<br />

The workshops proved to be very useful in supporting the work of LTSN<br />

staff and the day also provided a further opportunity for discussion and<br />

networking between different <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>s.<br />

Many excellent workshops were run during the main conference. Perhaps<br />

the two most pertinent were ‘How do teaching and learning projects<br />

develop the new developers?’ run by Carole Baume (Director of the<br />

TQEF National Co-ordination Team) and David Baume (Director of the<br />

<strong>Centre</strong> for Higher Education Practice, Open University); and ‘New<br />

Professionals as Expert Learners’ run by Martin Oliver (UCL). Both of<br />

these workshops explored the development and future roles of the ‘new<br />

generation’ of educational developers, including learning technologists and<br />

project staff from learning and teaching programmes such as the Fund for<br />

Development of Teaching and Learning (FDTL) and the Teaching and<br />

Learning Technology Programme (TLTP) and the LTSN.<br />

Further information on the conference and other SEDA activities can be<br />

found at their web-site: http://www.seda.demon.co.uk/<br />

SEDA Associate Fellowship<br />

The <strong>GEES</strong> <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> is delighted to announce the award of SEDA<br />

Associate Fellowship which was presented to Helen King at the conference<br />

reception. This award is part of a professional accreditation scheme<br />

intended for those who support lecturers, support staff and their institutions<br />

to enhance the quality of the student learning experience, through the<br />

professional development of staff who work in higher education.<br />

C&IT in Fieldwork Conference<br />

University of Leeds, 29th November 2000<br />

The new LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> is building on the work of the<br />

former Computers in Teaching Initiative (CTI) <strong>Centre</strong>s and is keen to<br />

promote the use (where appropriate) of learning technologies. One of<br />

the most interesting and controversial current issues is how best to use<br />

technology to support fieldwork. For <strong>this</strong> reason the LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong> for <strong>GEES</strong> recently held a one day conference on fieldwork teaching<br />

using C & IT. The conference was hosted by the School of Geography at<br />

the University of Leeds, fifty delegates attended representing the Geography,<br />

Earth and Environmental Sciences community as well as staff from cognate<br />

disciplines such as biosciences and archaeology.<br />

The conference aimed to demonstrate good practice and provide a forum<br />

for some of the issues raised by the use of C & IT in fieldwork. Six pieces<br />

of work were demonstrated ranging from the small-scale implementation<br />

of software within a department to large-scale development of software<br />

suites available to all Higher Education Institutions. In his keynote address,<br />

Tom Franklin of the LTSN Technologies <strong>Centre</strong>, spoke of the importance<br />

of C & IT in the curriculum and accessibility in the design of these resources.<br />

A prevailing theme throughout the day was that technology is a tool,<br />

which can be used as an important enhancement for fieldwork teaching<br />

but should not be used as a substitute for the real thing!<br />

Proceedings of the conference will be available as a version of PLANET in<br />

the near future.<br />

Software for Earth Science<br />

Teaching and Learning<br />

Twenty-one fully indexed CAL modules<br />

developed in UK Universities with TLTP<br />

funding covering most aspects of Geology<br />

and several aspects of Environmental<br />

Science and Physical Geography.<br />

Web and application based versions<br />

available for Macintosh and Windows, also<br />

free demo CD-ROM and low-cost scheme<br />

for students to buy all the modules on one<br />

CD-ROM.<br />

See the website for details<br />

www.man.ac.uk/~ukescc<br />

UK Earth Science Courseware Consortium<br />

Department of Earth Sciences<br />

University of Manchester<br />

Manchester M13 9PL, UK<br />

ukescc@man.ac.uk<br />

Tel: 01625 612896<br />

Fax: 01625 613997<br />

“My fieldcourse doesn’t need updating, I’ve been<br />

running it for thirty years’<br />

Bookwinner<br />

The winner of the ‘Name Badge Draw’ at the C & IT in<br />

Fieldwork conference was Richard Teeuw, Department of<br />

Environmental Sciences, University of Hertfordshire. Richard<br />

receives a John Wiley book of his choice. So, the next time<br />

you attend a <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> event remember to return your<br />

name badge!<br />

HF (2000)<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> Learning and<br />

Teaching Development<br />

Projects: 2001<br />

Supporting good practice in learning and teaching is not only about sharing<br />

existing skills and resources, it is also about facilitating the development of<br />

new ones. At the end of last July, the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> therefore announced<br />

the first round of funding (£15,000) under its small-scale projects<br />

programme. Subsequently, the selection panel, consisting of the <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong> Director, Manager and the four Senior Advisors, then had the<br />

difficult task of choosing the few that could be funded out of the 17<br />

excellent proposals submitted.<br />

The funding programme aims to:<br />

• Support curriculum developments and other innovations which will<br />

enhance the quality of the students’ learning experience;<br />

• Harness existing staff expertise and identify and encourage fresh<br />

talent;<br />

• Offer opportunities for continuing professional development of<br />

teaching and support staff in the three disciplines;<br />

• Disseminate good practice to the wider communities;<br />

• Encourage collaboration and sharing of good practice between the<br />

three disciplines;<br />

• Widen participation in the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>’s work.<br />

Our congratulations go to the four successful projects which will<br />

commence in January 2001 and run for one year. They are:<br />

“Atmosphere, Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, Biosphere: Cross-Disciplinary<br />

Virtual Fieldwork”<br />

Roger Suthren, Geology (BMS), Oxford Brookes University<br />

“Development of POPWEB, a Web-based Guide to Pollen and Plant<br />

Types: a Learning Resource for Lecture and Practical Support”<br />

Jeff Blackford, Department of Geography, Queen Mary College, University<br />

of London<br />

“Reflective Learning in Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences”<br />

Margaret Harrison, School of Environment, Cheltenham & Gloucester<br />

College of HE<br />

“Developing Team Skills in the Curricula”<br />

Kenneth Lynch, School of Earth Sciences and Geography, Kingston<br />

University<br />

Further information on these four projects is available on the <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong> web-site and regular updates on their progress will also be posted.<br />

The next round of funding under <strong>this</strong> programme will be announced in<br />

August 2001 – keep an eye on the web-site for details:<br />

http://www.gees.ac.uk<br />

We need YOU!<br />

The LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for <strong>GEES</strong> recognises that there<br />

is a great deal of good practice and innovation in learning, teaching<br />

and assessment that already exists across our disciplines. We are<br />

here to support, develop and disseminate such examples to a wider<br />

audience within HE. So, if you think that someone else could benefit<br />

from your experiences, then let us know. We will do our best to<br />

promote your work through our database of good practice. In<br />

addition, if you would like to disseminate your experiences through<br />

PLANET by writing a short article, then please get in touch with the<br />

editor. Contact details can be found at the end of <strong>this</strong> edition. We<br />

hope to hear from you!<br />

Project Tellus: The Information Gateway<br />

for Learning and Teaching in Geography,<br />

Earth and Environmental Sciences<br />

The LTSN <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>’s Information Gateway project was tendered<br />

out in July 2000. Following interviews held on 9th October 2000, the<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> is pleased to announce that the successful team are<br />

Andrew Evans, Myles Gould and Graham Clarke, from the School of<br />

Geography, University of Leeds.<br />

The project officially commenced on 1st January 2001, but much<br />

work has been completed in the period between the interviews and<br />

the official start date. A working ‘in-progress’ gateway should therefore<br />

be operable in the late spring or early summer of 2001.<br />

The aim of the project is to provide a portal through which quality<br />

learning and teaching materials can be accessed. The materials will be<br />

reviewed and annotated, providing a useful resource for anyone using<br />

the gateway. It is intended that a ‘personalised’ front page will also be<br />

added to the site, giving users a chance to be alerted to new materials<br />

that become available in the database depending upon their interests.<br />

If anyone would like more information on the project, e-mail<br />

geoaje@leeds.ac.uk or access the Project Tellus web-site (http://<br />

www.tellus.ac.uk) where further information will be placed as and<br />

when it becomes available.<br />

• ISBN:<br />

1-86239-068-1<br />

• Easier to use<br />

• More relevant<br />

information<br />

• Published<br />

annually<br />

• List price:<br />

£79/US$132<br />

The Geologist’s<br />

Directory 2000<br />

(10th edition)<br />

The Leading Guide to Geoscience<br />

in the UK and Ireland<br />

Incorporating the Register of<br />

Consulting Chartered Geologists<br />

Since it was first published in 1980,<br />

The Geologist’s Directory has been<br />

recognised as the most comprehensive,<br />

authoritative and useful reference<br />

guide of its kind available to the<br />

earth scientist. It’s the perfect<br />

source for individuals working<br />

right across <strong>this</strong> important field<br />

to gain access to reliable and<br />

up-to-date information.<br />

A Who’s Who of Chartered Geologists, both UK and overseas •<br />

Consultants • Contractors • Specialist Services • Plant and Equipment •<br />

Products and Materials • Manufacturers • Distributors • Associations,<br />

Societies and Institutions • Geology in Education •<br />

Government Bodies • The Geological Society • Brand and Trade Names<br />

Order your copy from:<br />

Geological Society Publishing House<br />

Unit 7 Brassmill Enterprise <strong>Centre</strong>, Brassmill Lane,<br />

Bath BA1 3JN, UK<br />

Tel: +44 (0)1225 445046 Fax: +44 (0)1225 442836<br />

Email: dawn.angel@geolsoc.org.uk<br />

Online bookshop: http://bookshop.geolsoc.org.uk<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Keep in Touch with YOUR <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong><br />

Here’s how you can keep up-to-date with <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> activities and with<br />

learning and teaching developments/issues across the three discipline<br />

communities.<br />

Departmental Contacts<br />

The <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> has a contact person in every UK HE department that<br />

offers Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences programmes, alone or in<br />

combination. These contact persons have been established to act as an effective<br />

voice for the department on any learning and teaching issue which you consider<br />

to be important. The departmental contact person is also the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>’s<br />

first port of call for disseminating information. For example, <strong>this</strong> issue of<br />

PLANET was distributed via your departmental representative. If you do not<br />

know who your contact person is, why not send an email around your<br />

department, or contact us direct to find out? Email: hking@plymouth.ac.uk.<br />

<strong>GEES</strong> Headline News (serving all three subject communities)<br />

This is an e-mail distribution list maintained by the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>. This service<br />

specifically provides short e-mails keeping all who subscribe informed of <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong> activities, developments and projects. No general pedagogic material<br />

is sent to <strong>this</strong> list. If you would like to be added to <strong>this</strong> mailing list then please<br />

e-mail: jgill@plymouth.ac.uk<br />

ESac-LTSN (serving Environmental Science)<br />

This service is maintained by the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>’s Environmental Science<br />

Satellite at the University of Hertfordshire. The list is intended for the<br />

Environmental Sciences academic community (ESac) and is used as a forum<br />

for discussions about learning and teaching issues and good practice in<br />

Environmental Science. It is also used as a list to post <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong><br />

announcements and requests for information.<br />

To join ESac-LTSN visit the JISCMAIL homepage at: http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/<br />

Geo-Network (serving Earth Sciences)<br />

This service is maintained by the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>. Geo-Network is used as a<br />

platform for discussion on the provision of key skills, careers guidance and<br />

general pedagogic issues within Earth Science degree courses. It is also used<br />

as a medium for the dissemination of information relating to the activities of<br />

the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> in the area of Earth Sciences.<br />

To join Geo-Network visit the JISCMAIL homepage at: http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/<br />

Geog-Net (serving Geography)<br />

Geog-Net is a moderated e-mail discussion list, primarily used for the discussion<br />

of issues associated with learning and teaching in UK Geography Higher<br />

Education. It too includes information about the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>.<br />

To join Geog-Net e-mail: GEOGNET@northampton.ac.uk<br />

Register of Expertise<br />

If you have a question or query on any learning and teaching issue, then<br />

please contact the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> and use our register of expertise. This<br />

register currently has over 50 names and contact details of individuals who<br />

have expertise in various learning and teaching areas, ranging from computeraided<br />

assessment to problem-solving, or from the adoption of C&IT in fieldwork<br />

to benchmarking Alternatively, if you have an area of expertise that you think<br />

others could benefit from, why not contact the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> and add your<br />

name to the register? Please email: sgaskin@plymouth.ac.uk if you would like<br />

to use and/or be added to the list. (Please note that the register is NOT<br />

published on the web).<br />

Reviews<br />

A review of the Discovering Geology<br />

Open University CD-ROMs<br />

The Discovering Geology set of six CD-ROMs derives from an Open<br />

University second level undergraduate course entitled Geology S260.<br />

The CD-ROMs form an integral part of the S260 course, but they have<br />

been issued as self-contained Computer-Assisted Learning units for use<br />

either separately or as a series. They are winners of the 1999 EuroPrix<br />

Multimedia Art Award in the Knowledge and Discovery category.<br />

The CD-ROMs cover four thematic blocks: Maps & Landscape, Earth<br />

Materials, Internal Processes and Surface Processes, with two supporting<br />

resources, a Digital Microscope, and a Digital Kit containing a virtual<br />

representation of the 30 rocks, 20 minerals and 20 fossils required for the<br />

study of S260. Each of the four thematic CD-ROMs is supplied with the<br />

relevant S260 workbook, and the parts of the book to which the CD-<br />

ROM relates are clearly marked with a disk icon. This review covers only<br />

the Maps and Landscape (Block 1) unit. CD-ROM based activities<br />

associated with Block 1 include virtual fieldwork on Skye (at Torrin and<br />

Strathaird localities) and two units concerned with geological structures<br />

and their outcrop patterns, involving 3D block diagrams and virtual<br />

fieldwork (at St Andrews and in Big Bend National Park, Texas). There is<br />

also a set of self-assessment questions.<br />

The innovative virtual fieldwork is supported by impressive 360 degree<br />

views of the selected localities, with mouse-driven scanning and zoom<br />

facilities. At each locality, a number of simple observational tasks and/or<br />

measurements may be carried out under the guidance of an introductory<br />

commentary. Measurements of dip can be carried out on some of the<br />

field photographs using a simple on-screen clinometer.<br />

The fieldwork tasks show very good progression through the sequence<br />

of activities linked to the Scottish localities. These start in Skye with general<br />

field observation and description of Tertiary igneous rocks and landforms<br />

near Torrin at the northern end of the Strathaird peninsula, then proceed<br />

to rock description and simple measurement of dip and strike at a localities<br />

further down the peninsula, and conclude with field sketching, detailed<br />

dip and strike measurement and simple structural mapping of the beach<br />

section in folded Carboniferous strata at St Andrews. This virtual fieldwork<br />

is certainly no replacement for real fieldwork but it introduces, in a<br />

systematic and progressive way, some basic aspects of geological field<br />

study. It can therefore help to prepare students for the types of activity<br />

involved in real fieldwork and start to develop some of the necessary<br />

specialised skills. Bad weather is not one of the shortcomings of virtual<br />

fieldwork, however: having paid several visits to Skye, I found the place<br />

almost unrecognisable in the OU materials with so much blue sky in<br />

evidence!<br />

The amount of intrinsic geological interest present in the selected field<br />

locations and, in consequence, the range and value of tasks that can be set<br />

vary from locality to locality. The St Andrews coastal section in the Map<br />

Explorer II unit is full of visual geological interest and is well supported by<br />

detailed field photographs and field notes on specific features. By contrast,<br />

the four localities in Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park used in<br />

the Map Explorer I unit have 360 degree views and commentary but are<br />

unsupported by field photographs and notes. The commentary is bland,<br />

ending with a later superimposed ‘what do you think?’ One is inclined to<br />

think that the programme makers need not have travelled all the way to<br />

Texas for so little obvious purpose.<br />

The ‘map explorer’ units both contain sets of tasks based on simple 3D<br />

block diagrams in which the learner is invited to explain the structural<br />

cause of illustrated outcrop patterns by selecting appropriate values for<br />

relevant dip, fold or fault parameters. Text messages provide help in the<br />

case of incorrect answers. Overall, the range of geological tasks set in<br />

relation to the virtual field localities and block diagrams is very well judged<br />

and attractively presented, and the CD-ROMs will doubtless find wide<br />

and appreciative use by students in post 16 and first year undergraduate<br />

programmes of study.<br />

The complete set of six CD-ROMs is available from Open University<br />

Worldwide at a cost of £119.99 + VAT. Individual CD-ROMs cost from<br />

£24.99 + VAT to £29.99 + VAT.<br />

Mike Brooks<br />

Geological Society<br />

brooksm@brooksm.demon.co.uk<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

From Only £24.99+ VAT<br />

Discovering Geology CD-ROMs enable you to learn many<br />

practical geological skills without even leaving your<br />

computer. Computer-Assisted Learning packages will take<br />

you on virtual field trips, while simulations of a petrological<br />

microscope, geological experiments and virtual kits provide<br />

a state-of-the-art laboratory.<br />

• practice fieldwork in virtual fieldtrips to classic areas<br />

• 'handle' & label the 70 samples from the digital kit<br />

• examine rocks using the digital microscope<br />

• explore rock forming environments, past and present<br />

• suitable for undergraduate and post-16 students<br />

• Activity Workbooks included<br />

For more information or to make an order call: 01908 858785<br />

e-mail: ouwenq@ouw.co.uk or go to www.ouw.co.uk

Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

The <strong>GEES</strong> Guide to Higher<br />

Education Initiatives<br />

This question and answer guide attempts to explain the plethora of<br />

acronyms used to describe major learning and teaching initiatives in Higher<br />

Education in the UK (albeit that some have been focused only on England).<br />

After outlining the emergence of various funding initiatives, the guide<br />

summarises the main aims of, and key learning resources available from,<br />

several projects across our three discipline communities. So, if you are<br />

confused about FDTL, TLTP, TALESSI, HILP, TRIADS, SEED, GNU,<br />


DENI and LTSN then read on! A more comprehensive guide to learning<br />

and teaching acronyms will soon be available at http://www.gees.ac.uk/<br />

resource.htm.<br />

Sources of Funding<br />

Q: What Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) funding is<br />

available to support learning and teaching in Higher Education?<br />

A: During 1999/2000, the HEFCE announced a funding mechanism to<br />

support the development and enhancement of learning and teaching in<br />

Higher Education.<br />

A plan was drawn up to establish a single teaching quality enhancement<br />

fund (TQEF) that would reward high quality and encourage improvement<br />

through funding which covered three strands: the institution, the subject<br />

discipline, and the individual academic. The HEFCE agreed to allocate<br />

£24 million to the fund in 1999-2000, £29 million in 2000-01 and £30<br />

million in 2001-02. The TQEF is an aggregated fund, and the long running<br />

Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning (FDTL) (launched in<br />

1995) and the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme (TLTP)<br />

(launched in 1992) have now been merged into <strong>this</strong> single programme.<br />

The largest component of the TQEF is the financial and practical support<br />

available for institutions to develop and implement their learning and<br />

teaching strategies. Some of you may have been involved in helping to<br />

prepare your institution’s policy. If on the other hand you didn’t know<br />

you had one, then find out about it!<br />

The subject strand of the TQEF aims to promote innovation and the<br />

sharing of good practice in the disciplines. It does <strong>this</strong> through the Fund<br />

for the Development of Teaching and Learning (FDTL). The FDTL was<br />

established to support projects aimed at stimulating developments in<br />

learning and teaching and to encourage dissemination of good practice.<br />

Bids were invited from HE institutions that were able to demonstrate<br />

high quality in their educational provision, as judged by the Teaching Quality<br />

Assessment (TQA) exercise. FDTL was the first programme to link high<br />

quality teaching assessment results to the allocation of funds in the Higher<br />

Education sector.<br />

The aim of the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme (TLTP)<br />

was to make teaching and learning more productive and efficient by<br />

harnessing modern technology. Universities were invited to bid for funding<br />

for projects to develop new methods of learning and teaching through<br />

the use of technology.<br />

Finally, the individual strand of the Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund<br />

aims to encourage Higher Education institutions to recognise and reward<br />

excellent learning and teaching support through institutional learning and<br />

teaching strategies. In addition, the HEFCE has given £1m to the newly<br />

established Institute for Learning and Teaching (ILT) to run the National<br />

Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) which rewards exemplars of good<br />

learning and teaching practice in Higher Education.<br />

Over the last 12 months, the HEFCE, the Higher Education Funding Council<br />

for Wales (HEFCW), the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council<br />

(SHEFC) and the Department for Education in Northern Ireland (DENI)<br />

have also established a Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN)<br />

consisting of 24 <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>s. More information of the National <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences is provided at<br />

the beginning of <strong>this</strong> publication.<br />

Other HEFCE funded initiatives include widening participation and<br />

supporting students with disabilities.<br />

The Fund for the Development of Teaching and<br />

Learning (FDTL)<br />

Q: What specific projects has the HEFCE Fund for the Development of Teaching<br />

and Learning (FDTL) supported?<br />

A: The FDTL has supported a wide spectrum of projects on developing<br />

teaching and learning in Higher Education and there is a natural link<br />

between many of the projects working in the same discipline. However,<br />

many projects have also come together because they are working on<br />

similar educational themes. Various institutions representing the three<br />

disciplines of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences were successful<br />

in securing FDTL funding. Although most of these projects have now<br />

come to an end, they have all produced valuable teaching and learning<br />

resources. The following is an annotated list of the ten funded projects<br />

across the three disciplines. The resources provided by these three projects<br />

are available to the entire UK Higher Education community.<br />

‘Disseminating Good Teaching, Learning and Assessment Practices<br />

in Geography’<br />

Geography Discipline Network (GDN)<br />

Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Area: Geography<br />

http://www.chelt.ac.uk/gdn/<br />

Contact: mhealey@chelt.ac.uk<br />

Aims: To identify and disseminate good practice in the teaching, learning<br />

and assessment of Geography at undergraduate and taught postgraduate<br />

levels in Higher Education institutions in England and Northern Ireland.<br />

Available resources: The Geography Discipline Network has published ten<br />

excellent Guides covering a range of methods of delivering and assessing<br />

teaching and learning. It is possible to purchase copies of the Guides<br />

directly from the Geography Discipline Network. The GDN has also<br />

developed a good practice database for learning and teaching. This is<br />

currently being enlarged to encompass the wider community of Geography,<br />

Earth and Environmental Sciences. This valuable resource is being migrated<br />

to the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> and will become a searchable archive available<br />

from the http://www.gees.ac.uk and will be maintained by both staff at<br />

the <strong>Centre</strong> and Phil Gravestock of the GDN. (In addition, the GDN has<br />

also recently published a series of texts on key skills; these were produced<br />

as part of the Department for Education and Employment’s (DfEE) key<br />

skills project).<br />

‘Developing postgraduates’ teaching skills in the sciences: a training<br />

and development programme for teaching assistants’<br />

University of East Anglia<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Area: Environmental Studies<br />

http://www.uea.ac.uk/sdto/project/welcome.html<br />

Contact: r.e.goodall@uea.ac.uk<br />

Aims: To produce a training programme, designed to develop postgraduates’<br />

teaching skills in the sciences, which will be capable of being delivered by<br />

academic staff, senior postgraduates or staff developers in a range of<br />

contexts.<br />

Available resources: The programme offers the equivalent of 30 hours of<br />

workshops and seminars and includes guidance notes for tutors, a video,<br />

handouts, OHPs.<br />

‘Teaching and Learning at the Environment-Science-Society Interface<br />

(TALESSI)’<br />

University of Greenwich<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Area: Environmental Studies<br />

http://www.greenwich.ac.uk/~bj61/talessi/<br />

Contact: fdtl38@greenwich.ac.uk<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Aims: The project seeks to promote interdisciplinarity and values awareness<br />

and critical thinking in environmental Higher Education, especially in<br />

environmental science/studies and geography.<br />

Available resources: Teaching and learning resources are available for free<br />

download, as html pages, on the above website.<br />

‘Hertfordshire Integrated Learning Project (HILP)’<br />

University of Hertfordshire<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Areas: environmental studies, geology, chemistry, law, computer<br />

science, business and management studies, mechanical engineering, music,<br />

applied social work, history, english.<br />

http://www.herts.ac.uk/envstrat/HILP/<br />

Contact: m.hall@herts.ac.uk<br />

Aims: HILP aims to enhance staff and student perceptions of skills<br />

development, and has as its focus the integration of skills development<br />

into the academic curriculum.<br />

Available resources: Resources include a graduate skills menu, descriptors<br />

for graduate skills, skills support materials, tools for mapping and tracking<br />

graduate skills and transdisciplinary case studies for problem-based learning.<br />

‘TRIADS - Tripartite Assessment Delivery System’<br />

University of Liverpool (collaborative with the University of Derby and<br />

the Open University)<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Areas: Geography, geology, medicine, veterinary science<br />

http://www.pcweb.liv.ac.uk/apboyle/triads/index.html<br />

Contact: apboyle@liv.ac.uk<br />

Aims: To improve the quality of students’ learning by promoting a ‘learning<br />

outcomes led’ approach to curriculum design and assessment.<br />

Available resources: Free demonstration of question styles are available at:<br />

http://www.derby.ac.uk/assess/newdemo/newdemo.html<br />

‘Skills Development: The Management of Change’<br />

University of Newcastle upon Tyne<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Areas: Architecture, chemistry, computing, geography, history,<br />

tourism<br />

http://www.ncl.ac.uk/ADU/hefce/<br />

Contact: i.h.nixon@ncl.ac.uk<br />

Aims: To identify strategies that can facilitate changes in the curriculum to<br />

promote the development of students’ skills.<br />

Available resources: Web-site links to relevant resources, publications and<br />

case studies at the above address.<br />

‘SEED: Science Education Enhancement and Development’<br />

University of Plymouth<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Areas: Geography, geology, environmental studies<br />

http://www.science.plym.ac.uk/departments/seed/<br />

Contact: bchalkley@plymouth.ac.uk<br />

Aims: To develop, document and disseminate good practice in Science<br />

teaching and learning. The programme consists of a series of projects in<br />

areas such as lab-work, field-work, graduate teaching assistants and<br />

computer-aided learning.<br />

Available resources: Learning and teaching handbooks on computer based<br />

assessment, developing employer links and fieldwork in the sciences, are<br />

among some of the resources available to download free, in pdf format,<br />

from the web-site above.<br />

‘Staff Development in the Earth Sciences’<br />

University of Southampton<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Area: Earth Sciences<br />

http://www.soton.ac.uk/~ukgec/<br />

Contact: h.king@plymouth.ac.uk<br />

Aims: To identify current best practice in teaching and learning and to<br />

promote its widest possible dissemination, take-up and implementation.<br />

Available resources: A Staff Handbook to Support Earth Sciences Learning<br />

and Teaching in Higher Education available free from the above address<br />

or download, in pdf format, from http://www.gees.ac.uk/Resbook.pdf<br />

‘GNU: Geography for the New Undergraduate’<br />

Liverpool Hope University College<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Areas: Geography<br />

http://www.hope.ac.uk/gnu/<br />

Contact: cs.maguire@ulst.ac.uk<br />

Aims: To develop a first year undergraduate seminar programme to teach<br />

personal, interpersonal and transferable skills within a geographical context,<br />

and to assist the successful transition to undergraduate studies, particularly<br />

for non-traditional-entry students.<br />

Available resources: Tutor and student guides to a seminar programme on<br />

various skills themes. Tutor guides provide enough information for tutors<br />

to run seminars.<br />

‘IMAGE: Interactive Mathematics and Geoscience Education’<br />

University College London<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Area: Geology<br />

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/geolsci/edu/ugrads/image.htm<br />

Contact: p.meredith@ucl.ac.uk<br />

Aims: The project aims to develop essential skills applicable to geoscience<br />

education, primarily under the subdivisions of mathematics and fieldwork.<br />

Available resources: web-based computer-aided learning resources available<br />

for use on the web-site above include geo-mathematics revision topics<br />

and fieldwork (tailored to UCL courses).<br />

Summary of FDTL<br />

As seen, there is a large corpus of teaching and learning resources that<br />

have been made available through the HEFCE Fund for the Development<br />

of Teaching and Learning (FDTL). Most material is available for downloading<br />

from the listed websites or by getting in touch with the named contact<br />

person. Most of the available resources are free of charge.<br />

The Teaching and Learning Technology<br />

Programme (TLTP)<br />

Q: What specific projects has the HEFCE Teaching and Learning Technology<br />

Programme (TLTP) supported?<br />

A: Not unlike the HEFCE Fund for the Development of Teaching and<br />

Learning, the Fund for Teaching and Learning Technology has supported a<br />

whole host of projects. Within the disciplines of Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences four projects were funded. An annotated list of<br />

these is provided below.<br />

‘UK Earth Sciences Courseware Consortium (UKESCC)’<br />

University of Manchester<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Area: Earth Sciences<br />

http://www.man.ac.uk/Geology/CAL/index.html<br />

Contact: ukescc@man.ac.uk<br />

Aims: to develop, produce and distribute high quality interactive courseware<br />

for use in Earth Science teaching and learning.<br />

Available resources: hybrid Macintosh/Windows demonstration CD-ROM<br />

containing examples of the 21 courseware modules available can be<br />

ordered from the web-site.<br />

The UKESCC project has now become a commercial venture and the<br />

available learning resources are chargeable. However, the National <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences has all 21<br />

courseware modules for use at the <strong>Centre</strong>’s library. Please contact<br />

sgaskin@plymouth.ac.uk if you would like to visit and experiment with<br />

the software.<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

‘<strong>Centre</strong> for Computer Based Learning in Land Use and<br />

Environmental Sciences’<br />

University of Aberdeen<br />

http://www.clues.abdn.ac.uk:8080/<br />

Contact: CLUES@abdn.ac.uk<br />

Aims: To enhance the quality of learning and increase the effectiveness of<br />

teaching in subjects relating to land use and environmental sciences within<br />

UK Higher Education through the application of computer-assisted learning<br />

(CAL) and other appropriate information technologies (IT).<br />

Available resources: CLUES products include CAL courseware and selfteaching<br />

tutorials. The web-site also contains a useful, annotated Directory<br />

of Resources for Computer Based Learning in Land Use and Environmental<br />

Sciences<br />

‘Geotechnical Computer-aided Learning’<br />

University of the West of England<br />

http://geocal.uwe.ac.uk/<br />

No longer running<br />

Aims: GeotechniCAL’s objective is the appropriate use of information<br />

technology for the teaching and learning of geotechnics.<br />

Available resources: the web-site contains an index of computer-assisted<br />

learning packages for geotechnical engineering. Some of the resources<br />

contain “live” online material developed using open Internet standards.<br />

‘GeographyCAL® UK Computer-assisted Learning Consortium in<br />

Geography’<br />

University of Leicester<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Area: Geography<br />

http://www.geog.le.ac.uk/cti/tltp/<br />

Contact: vg5@le.ac.uk<br />

Aims: To specify, develop, test and deliver a library of high-quality<br />

transportable resources in the form of computer-assisted learning (CAL)<br />

modules.<br />

Available resources: CAL modules in human geography, physical geography<br />

and geographical techniques.<br />

Q: What was the funding councils Computers in Teaching Initiative(CTI) about?<br />

A: The Computers in Teaching Initiative spanned the ten years of the<br />

1990s. The aim of the CTI was to enhance the quality of learning and<br />

teaching in Higher Education through the use of appropriate technologies.<br />

This has successfully been achieved in the disciplines of Land Use and<br />

Environmental Sciences, Geography, Geology and Meteorology through<br />

the CTI <strong>Centre</strong>s for these subject areas. Up until January 2000, the CTI<br />

<strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Geology and Meteorology was based at the<br />

University of Leicester and directed by Geoff Robinson (now the C & IT<br />

senior advisor to the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences). The <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Biosciences has taken<br />

up the baton for CLUES, the CTI <strong>Centre</strong> for Land Use and Environmental<br />

Sciences, where the former director Simon Heath is now advising as a<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> Specialist.<br />

Many excellent learning and teaching resources were produced as a result<br />

of the CTI. These include a web-site for the Geography, Geology and<br />

Meteorology CTI (http://www.geog.le.ac.uk/cti/) containing a catalogue<br />

of geographical software, providing information on over 100 software<br />

items.<br />

Additionally, an information gateway provides an index of on-line Geo-<br />

Information resources for university staff and students: <strong>this</strong> will soon be<br />

subsumed into the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>’s own Information Gateway which<br />

spans a much wider community. The development of GeographyCal®<br />

courseware (see above) involved over 130 academics and has proved to<br />

be an immense help and resource for the teaching community. However,<br />

January 2000 potentially marked a turning point in the provision of support<br />

for learning and teaching in Higher Education, and the CTI centres came<br />

to an end. However, they left behind an important legacy of involvement,<br />

commitment and encouragement.<br />

Q: If the CTI <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Geology and Meteorology is no longer in<br />

operation, who is serving the need to enhance the quality of learning and<br />

teaching in Higher Education through the use of appropriate technologies?<br />

A: In January 2000, the HEFCE set-up a Learning and Teaching Support<br />

Network (LTSN), consisting of 24 <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>s, a Generic <strong>Centre</strong><br />

and a Technologies <strong>Centre</strong> (<strong>GEES</strong>). The <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography,<br />

Earth and Environmental Sciences is committed to integrating C&IT into<br />

learning and teaching in Higher Education as part of a wider remit. For<br />

more information on the LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for <strong>GEES</strong> refer<br />

to an earlier article in <strong>this</strong> edition of PLANET.<br />

Q: Are there any projects across Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences<br />

that have been successful in securing funds to improve provision for disabled<br />

students?<br />

A: Yes, the Geography Discipline Network (GDN) (see above) provides<br />

learning and teaching resources for the three disciplines of Geography,<br />

Earth and Environmental Sciences and is based at Cheltenham and<br />

Gloucester College of Higher Education. The GDN has been awarded<br />

money to provide guidance on learning support for disabled students<br />

undertaking fieldwork. The project will run until June 2001. The main<br />

aim of the project is to identify, promote and transfer the principles and<br />

good practices of how to provide learning support for disabled students<br />

undertaking fieldwork and related activities. It is the intention of the<br />

project managers to produce a series of six guides for use by relevant<br />

departments. Contact: mhealey@chelt.ac.uk. or visit http://<br />

www.chelt.ac.uk/gdn.<br />

Q: How can I access and benefit from the above learning and teaching<br />

initiatives?<br />

If one of the projects above covers your subject area and interests you,<br />

do contact the project leader and/or visit the website addresses listed<br />

above and obtain copies of the project resource outputs. If there is a<br />

learning and teaching topic that you are wrestling with, (such as the<br />

introduction of C&IT into your course or developing your students’<br />

employability and skills training), then again you will probably find it useful<br />

to obtain the resource outputs from some of these projects. While many<br />

of the initiatives have now come to an end, there it is still a need to<br />

continue disseminating and deploying their resources. The <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong><br />

is keen to assist with <strong>this</strong> process.<br />

And a last word……if you are in need of help on any learning and teaching<br />

issue, then contact the LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> and use the register<br />

of expertise. We hope to hear from you!<br />

Steve Gaskin and Helen King<br />

National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong><br />

sgaskin@plymouth.ac.uk<br />

hking@plymouth.ac.uk<br />

This article has in part drawn on a feature first published in Educational<br />

Developments 1.1 (Jan 2000), published by the Staff and Educational<br />

Development Association (SEDA).<br />

YOU to Review!<br />

The National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> holds an archive of new learning<br />

and teaching software and texts, in part supplied by John Wiley<br />

& Sons. If you are interested in reviewing any of <strong>this</strong> material<br />

then please contact the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> on 01752 233530<br />

(jgill@plymouth.ac.uk). We will then commission a review that<br />

will be published in a future issue of PLANET and on the <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong>’s website.<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

Taylor & Francis<br />

Journals<br />

Journal of Geography in Higher Education<br />

Editors: Hugh Matthews and Ian Livingstone, both at University College, Northampton, UK<br />

Volume 25, 2001, 3 issues ISSN 0309-8265<br />

The Journal of Geography in Higher Education provides a dedicated forum for research and<br />

discussion of geography teaching in all institutions of higher education throughout the world, it<br />

provides an arena for geographers and others, regardless of their specialisms, to discuss<br />

common educational interests, to present and review the results of educational research, and to<br />

advocate new ideas.<br />

Environmental Education Research<br />

Editors: Chris Oulton, University College Worcester, UK and Dr William A. H. Scott,<br />

University of Bath, UK<br />

Volume 7, 2001, 4 issues ISSN 1350-4622<br />

Environmental Education Research is an international refereed journal that publishes papers<br />

and reports on all aspects of environmental education. The purpose of the journal is to help<br />

advance understanding of environmental education through research and development<br />

activities. The journal carries a diverse range of papers including: conference reviews,<br />

retrospective analyses of activities in a particular field, commentaries on policy issues,<br />

comparative aspects of an environmental education issue and critical reviews of environmental<br />

education provision in a range of countries and regions.<br />

Related journals of interest<br />

Australian Geographer<br />

Editor: Graeme Aplin,<br />

Macquarie University,<br />

Australia<br />

Volume 32, 2001, 3 issues<br />

ISSN 0004-9182<br />

Higher Education in<br />

Europe<br />

Senior Editor: Leland C.<br />

Barrows, CEPES c/o<br />

UNESCO, Romania<br />

Volume 26, 2001, 4 issues<br />

ISSN 0379-7724<br />

Ethics, Place and<br />

Environment<br />

Editors: Tim Unwin, Royal<br />

Holloway, University of<br />

London, UK<br />

Volume 4, 2001, 3 issues<br />

ISSN 1366-879X<br />

Journal of Further and<br />

Higher Education<br />

Editor: Jennifer Rowley,<br />

Edge Hill University<br />

College, UK<br />

Volume 25, 2001, 3 issues<br />

ISSN 0309-877X<br />

Gender, Place and<br />

Culture: A Journal of<br />

Feminist Geography<br />

Editors: Lynn Staeheli,<br />

University of Colorado, USA<br />

and Gill Valentine,<br />

University of Sheffield, UK<br />

Volume 8, 2001, 4 issues<br />

ISSN 0966-369X<br />

Studies in Higher<br />

Education<br />

Editor: Professor Malcolm<br />

Tight, Department of<br />

Continuing Education,<br />

University of Warwick, UK<br />

Volume 26, 2001, 3 issues<br />

ISSN 0307-5079<br />

All of these journals are available online, for further information please<br />

connect to: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals<br />

For further details on these and other journals, or to order FREE SAMPLE COPIES,<br />

please contact:<br />

Brant Emery, Taylor & Francis Ltd,<br />

PO Box 25, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 3UE<br />

Tel: 01235 401065<br />

Fax: 01235 401550<br />

Email: brant.emery@tandf.co.uk<br />

Visit our website at www.tandf.co.uk/journals

Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

For your information<br />

A Curriculum Contribution to<br />

Work Experience<br />

Do you want to work with student-centred case materials that get<br />

students working in teams and applying a range of personal and<br />

interpersonal skills, such as, team working, information handling,<br />

problem identification, creative problem-solving, negotiation and actionplanning?<br />

Then check out these case studies which have been used with<br />

undergraduates and masters students in all the Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences disciplines. The cases are:<br />

• ‘Seatons’ – about a chemical factory dealing with pollution issues,<br />

compiled with the Environment Agency. (No chemistry needed:<br />

<strong>this</strong> works well with the general public and as a staff training<br />

exercise.)<br />

• ‘SusDale’ – about issues occurring in the Yorkshire Dales National<br />

Park, written with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.<br />

• ‘Flood Defence’ – two cases based on the River Lavant, Chichester,<br />

compiled with the Environment Agency.<br />

• ‘Flood Warning’ – two cases about planning a flood warning regime,<br />

again with the Environment Agency.<br />

Each case can be run in a 2-3 hour slot with appropriate briefing, or<br />

be given to students for one week and presented a week or two later.<br />

A detailed version of SusDale also exists as the main focus of a 10<br />

credit module. I use the four flood defence and flood warning cases<br />

as the assessments for a 10 credit hydrology module.<br />

You can download the tutor’s notes and student’s notes for all these<br />

cases from: http://www.geog.leeds.ac.uk/courses/other/casestudies/<br />

The Environment Agency sponsored cases can also be found at:<br />

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/education/studies/case.htm<br />

The flood warning and flood defence cases are splendidly topical at<br />

present. The website http://context.tlsu.leeds.ac.uk/index.asp also has<br />

more cases worth checking out.<br />

Pauline Kneale<br />

School of Geography<br />

University of Leeds.<br />

http://www.geog.leeds.ac.uk/staff/p.kneale/staffinfo.html<br />

pauline@geog.leeds.ac.uk<br />

Reflective Portfolios /<br />

Personal Development<br />

Portfolios<br />

A Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) pilot<br />

project ‘Strategic Model for Developing Materials for<br />

Recording Achievement in Traditional Universities’ led by<br />

the University of Leeds had as its aim the creation of a<br />

Faculty-wide portfolio for all undergraduates in Geography,<br />

Earth Science, Environmental Sciences and Transport<br />

Studies. Undergraduate progress files were piloted in 1998/<br />

1999 and introduced across faculty in September 1999.<br />

They are used in the Schools in different ways. These are<br />

either through study skills sessions and tutorial modules<br />

(Geography and Transport Studies) or within the University<br />

personal tutorial scheme (Environmental Sciences, Earth<br />

Sciences). They aim to encourage students to reflect on<br />

and review their activities at least once a semester. They<br />

are cross-referenced from study skills and careers modules<br />

in the Schools to highlight transferable skill development<br />

within mainstream teaching. Students taking workplace<br />

projects and year abroad activities are given further<br />

encouragement to log activities and highlight them in their<br />

portfolios. A Taught Masters Students’ Progress file has also<br />

been developed.<br />

If you want to use the Leeds Portfolio in any way, from idle<br />

reference to direct adoption, feel free. You can download<br />

copies at any time from:<br />

http://www.geog.leeds.ac.uk/publications/portfolio/<br />

I would welcome an email to let me know if you do use<br />

some or all of the material, and comments on the style and<br />

content would also be appreciated. We will review our<br />

use of the portfolio later in the year and I would welcome<br />

ideas and comments from the <strong>GEES</strong> community.<br />

Pauline Kneale<br />

School of Geography<br />

University of Leeds.<br />

http://www.geog.leeds.ac.uk/staff/p.kneale/staffinfo.html<br />

pauline@geog.leeds.ac.uk<br />

Notice to publishers<br />

Learning and Teaching books and/or software for review<br />

should be sent to the editor at the address given at the end<br />

of <strong>this</strong> edition of PLANET.<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

A Real-World Project<br />

Introduction<br />

From time to time, the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> will be raising the awareness<br />

of learning and teaching initiatives in cognate disciplines from which<br />

we can learn. The REAL-WORLD project is a good example of <strong>this</strong>:<br />

it has the principal aim of enhancing the employability of students by<br />

integrating work-related learning activities into the curriculum. Workrelated<br />

learning can include activities such as placements, industrial<br />

visits, live projects, case materials, mentoring schemes etc. REAL-<br />

WORLD has a national remit and is concentrating on the subject<br />

areas of Agriculture, Forestry, Agricultural Sciences and the Organismal<br />

Biosciences.<br />

REAL-WORLD is based at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.<br />

The project team includes academic staff from the Faculty of<br />

Agriculture and Biological Sciences at Newcastle, the School of<br />

Sciences at the University of Sunderland and educational and<br />

development staff from the Academic Development Unit, (part of<br />

the Newcastle University Careers Service). The project is supported<br />

by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) under<br />

the Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning (FDTL).<br />

Good Practice<br />

A key feature of REAL-WORLD is the development of a good practice<br />

guide that will draw from the experiences and expertise of both the<br />

academic and the business community. Using the guide as a base,<br />

REAL-WORLD will encourage and support the practical uptake of<br />

work-related learning into the curriculum. For employers and support<br />

organisations, REAL-WORLD will act as a link to ensure that skill<br />

requirements and concerns are reflected in the integration of workrelated<br />

learning.<br />

For Academic Departments<br />

• Access a good practice guide based on case studies. Participate<br />

in the development of the guide to ensure that innovations in<br />

work-related learning can be communicated to a variety of<br />

institutions;<br />

• Take advantage of the support, guidance and funding REAL-<br />

WORLD offers regarding the development of work-related<br />

learning;<br />

• Share your experience and views with other practitioners.<br />

For Employers<br />

• Access and contribute to the good practice guide. Ensure that it<br />

reflects the needs for a skilled workforce;<br />

• Participate in the framework for establishing good practice in<br />

work-related learning;<br />

• Form relationships with academic departments who are<br />

committed to meeting the skill requirements for graduates;<br />

• Work with REAL-WORLD to develop work-related learning<br />

initiatives.<br />

Receive our initial report on good practice<br />

From the outset we are encouraging participation from academics<br />

and employers that we hope will benefit from REAL-WORLD. We<br />

have prepared an initial report that is concerned with establishing<br />

criteria for good practice in work-related learning. This is available<br />

free of charge. To request your copy or to find out more about Real<br />

World, please contact us at the address below. In addition, you may<br />

like to contribute to the e-discussion on REAL-WORLD by visiting<br />

the website http://www.mailbase.ac.uk/lists/goodpractice<br />

Robert Walker<br />


University of Newcastle<br />

adu@ncl.ac.uk<br />

Real-World Workshop<br />

13 th December 2000, University of Newcastle<br />

The FDTL3 Funded project REAL-WORLD outlined above<br />

recently hosted a workshop for academic staff involved<br />

with courses in Agriculture, Forestry, Agricultural Sciences<br />

and the Organismal Biosciences.<br />

The workshop entitled ‘Ready for The Real World’ hosted<br />

by the University of Newcastle Careers Service encouraged<br />

the sharing of expertise in the development of work-related<br />

learning activities for the appropriate subjects. Work-related<br />

learning can include activities such as placements, industrial<br />

visits, live projects, case materials, mentoring schemes etc.<br />

Participants from a range of institutions contributed to a<br />

‘conceptual framework’ which will form the basis for<br />

identifying examples of good practice in work-related<br />

learning activities.<br />

Robert Walker the Project Manager for the REAL-WORLD<br />

project said ‘The workshop was a valuable opportunity to<br />

access a wide-range of experience and expertise in the design<br />

and delivery of work-related learning in agricultural and related<br />

courses.’ He went on to say ‘The REAL-WORLD project<br />

welcomes comments and contributions from other staff involved<br />

with agricultural and related courses.’<br />

Details of the areas covered at the workshop including a<br />

copy of the conceptual framework are available from<br />

Robert Walker at the REAL-WORLD project by email<br />

(adu@adu.ac.uk).<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Webbed Foot<br />

This section contains annotated web-links to general<br />

and specific learning and teaching material.<br />

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)<br />

http://www.w3.org/<br />

“Created in 1994, the W3C aims to lead the World Wide Web to its<br />

full potential by developing common protocols that promote its<br />

evolution and promote interoperability.”<br />

A good overview of the Consortium aims and goals can be found at:<br />

http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Points/<br />

Throughout the web-site the technical language is kept to a minimum<br />

and where ‘jargon’ is used it is either clearly explained or a link is<br />

provided to an explanation.<br />

The W3C hosts a variety of useful resources ranging from simple<br />

overviews to in-depth technical reports. For those staff developing<br />

web-based support for their teaching, or distance learning materials,<br />

accessibility guidelines are provided.<br />

The accessibility guidelines section (http://www.w3.org/WAI/) contains<br />

several levels of information ranging from quick tips on building an<br />

accessible web-site to more strategic issues, such as technical solutions<br />

and government policies. For staff who are already using or thinking<br />

of using the web to support their teaching, reading the W3C<br />

accessibility guidelines should be high on their list of priorities.<br />

“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone<br />

regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” Tim Berners-Lee, W3C<br />

Director and inventor of the World Wide Web<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Relaunch of website for the<br />

Environmental Sciences academic<br />

community<br />

The Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences (CHES),<br />

composed of senior Environmental Scientists, is a leading academic<br />

association representing the UK Environmental Sciences academic<br />

community (ESac) in Higher Education. It is concerned with, and acts<br />

as a focus for, all aspects of Environmental Sciences including learning<br />

and teaching developments. Most recently, the Benchmarking Panel<br />

for Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies<br />

at the Quality Assurance Agency was chaired by David Eastwood, the<br />

chairman of CHES.<br />

It is envisaged that by working closely with CHES (and particularly its<br />

Learning and Teaching Sub-committee), the Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> will be able to encourage and<br />

promote good learning and teaching practice within ESac. Support<br />

from the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> has meant that the CHES website has been<br />

overhauled over the last couple of months both in design and content<br />

and work is underway to provide a set of pedagogically useful resources<br />

and links.<br />

The website is managed and maintained by the National <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong>’s Environmental Sciences ‘satellite’ based at the University of<br />

Hertfordshire. You can visit it at the following address:<br />

http://www.herts.ac.uk/natsci/Env/ches/newches/home.htm<br />

Marianne Hall<br />

University of Hertfordshire<br />

m.hall@herts.ac.uk<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Diary Dates<br />

This section lists some specific learning and teaching conferences<br />

and workshops, and other conferences with learning and teaching<br />

sessions for 2001. For further information and registration, visit the<br />

website addresses provided or email the listed contacts.<br />

In addition, please photocopy these pages and place them on a<br />

noticeboard in your staffroom. Please note that many website<br />

addresses are transient but all those listed are correct at time of<br />

print.<br />

January<br />

Jan 2 – Jan 5<br />

‘Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers<br />

(RGS-IBG) 2001 Annual Conference’<br />

Organisers: RGS-IBG and the University of Plymouth<br />

Location: University of Plymouth<br />

http://www.rgs.org/Category.asp?Page=mainevents<br />

Jan 4 - Jan 5<br />

‘Second Symposium of the International Network for Learning and<br />

Teaching Geography in Higher Education’ (INLT)<br />

Organisers: INLT and the University of Plymouth<br />

Location: University of Plymouth<br />

http://www.chelt.ac.uk/el/philg/gdn/inlt/plym2001.htm<br />

Jan 10 – Jan 12<br />

‘International Conference on Learning and Teaching On-Line’<br />

Organisers: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural<br />

Organisation (UNESCO), South China Normal University (SCNU)<br />

and the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU).<br />

Location: Guangzhou, China<br />

http://ltol.scnu.edu.cn<br />

Jan 15<br />

‘The Teaching of Ethics and Professional Issues’<br />

Organisers: National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Information and Computer<br />

Sciences and the University of Greenwich<br />

Location: University of Greenwich, London<br />

http://www.ics.ltsn.ac.uk/events/ethics/<br />

Jan 22<br />

‘The 5th Java and the Internet in the Computing Curriculum<br />

Conference (JICC5)’<br />

Organisers: South Bank University<br />

Location: South Bank University, London<br />

http://www.ltsn.ac.uk/main/events.html<br />

Jan 29 - Feb 2<br />

‘2001 Geography, A Spatial Odyssey’<br />

Organisers: New Zealand Geographical Society and the Institute of<br />

Australian Geographers Joint Conference<br />

Location: Dunedin, New Zealand<br />

http://www.geography.otago.ac.nz/Geography/nzgs/nzgsotago.html<br />

29<br />

February<br />

Feb 1 – Feb 4<br />

‘American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) 9th Annual<br />

Conference’<br />

Organiser: AAHE<br />

Location: Tampa, Florida, USA<br />

http://www.aahe.org/ffrr/2001/preview/index.htm<br />

Feb 14<br />

‘Information Technology in Teaching Geoscience’<br />

Organiser: British Geological Survey (BGS)<br />

Location: University of Derby<br />

http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/template.cfm?name=EMRG2001B<br />

Feb 22<br />

‘Motivating and engaging students in active learning in our disciplines’<br />

Organiser: LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences<br />

Location: Kingston University<br />

http://www.gees.ac.uk/events.htm<br />

Feb 23<br />

‘Good Assessment Ideas in Environmental Sciences Learning and<br />

Teaching’<br />

Organisers: Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences (CHES)<br />

in association with the LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography,<br />

Earth and Environmental Sciences.<br />

Location: Kingston University<br />

http://www.gees.ac.uk/events.htm<br />

Feb 27 - March 3<br />

Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference<br />

Organisers: AAG<br />

Location: New York, USA<br />

http://www.aag.org<br />

March<br />

March 7<br />

‘Working with Diverse Students’<br />

Organiser: Institute for Learning and Teaching (ILT)<br />

Location: Napier University, Edinburgh<br />

http://www.ilt.ac.uk/archives/07032001.htm<br />

March 12<br />

‘Careers in the Curriculum’<br />

Organiser: National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences<br />

Location: Geological Society of London<br />

http://www.gees.ac.uk/events.htm<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Diary Dates cont.<br />

April<br />

April 2 – April 3<br />

‘Challenge to Change – enhancing the practice and scholarship of<br />

learning and teaching’<br />

Organisers: Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA)<br />

and SEDA Scotland Spring Conference<br />

Location: University of Glasgow<br />

http://www.seda.demon.co.uk/glasgow01.html<br />

April 2 – April 3<br />

Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences (CHES) Annual<br />

Conference<br />

Organiser: CHES<br />

Location: University of Plymouth<br />

Email: k.allen@rgs.org<br />

April 4<br />

‘Online Learning: Bridging the Gap’<br />

Organiser: Association for Learning Technology (ALT)<br />

Location: Manchester Metropolitan University<br />

http://www.alt.ac.uk<br />

April 5 – April 7<br />

‘Bridging Minds and Markets’<br />

Sixth International auDes Conference (Association of University<br />

Departments of Environmental Sciences in Europe)<br />

Organisers: auDes<br />

Location: Venice, Italy<br />

Email: audes6@unive.it<br />

April 9 – April 11<br />

‘2001: A Spatial Odyssey’<br />

The Geographical Association 2001 Annual Conference<br />

Organisers: The Geographical Association<br />

Location: University of Sussex, Brighton<br />

http://www.geography.org.uk/events/conf2001/2001.html<br />

April 11 – April 12<br />

‘Bridging gaps: an experimental two day workshop’<br />

Organiser: Institute for Learning and Teaching (ILT)<br />

Location: Cambridge – Madingley Hall<br />

http://www.ilt.ac.uk/archives/11042001.htm<br />

May<br />

May 8<br />

‘Learning support for disabled students undertaking fieldwork and<br />

related activities’<br />

Organisers: Geography Discipline Network (GDN) and the National<br />

<strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences<br />

Location: Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British<br />

Geographers (RGS-IBG), London<br />

http://www.gees.ac.uk/events.htm<br />

30<br />

May 21 – May 22<br />

‘New Lecturers Workshop’<br />

Organiser: LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences<br />

Location: University of Birmingham<br />

http://www.gees.ac.uk/events.htm<br />

May 22 – May 23<br />

‘Maximising impact – working strategically across the sector’<br />

FDTL/TLTP Annual Conference<br />

Organisers: FDTL/TLTP National Co-ordination Team<br />

Location: To be confirmed<br />

http://www.ncteam.ac.uk<br />

May 25 to May 26<br />

‘The End of Quality?’<br />

Organisers: Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) and<br />

European Association for International Research (EAIR)<br />

Location: Chamberlain Tower Hotel and Conference <strong>Centre</strong>,<br />

Birmingham<br />

http://www.qualityresearchinternational.com.eoq.intro.htm<br />

July<br />

July 4 – July 6<br />

Institute for Learning and Teaching Annual Conference (ILTAC)<br />

Organiser: ILT<br />

Location: University of York<br />

http://www.ilt.ac.uk/archives/default.htm<br />

July 8 – July 11<br />

Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia<br />

(HERDSA) 24th International Conference<br />

Organiser: HERDSA<br />

Location: Newcastle, Australia<br />

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/conferences/herdsa2001/<br />

July 11 – July 12<br />

Hertfordshire Integrated Learning Project (HILP) Annual Skills<br />

Conference<br />

‘Implementing Skills Development in Higher Education: Reviewing the<br />

Territory’<br />

Organisers: HILP<br />

Location: University of Hertfordshire<br />

http://www.gees.ac.uk/events.htm<br />

September<br />

Sept 9 – Sept 11<br />

‘9th International Improving Student Learning Symposium’<br />

Organisers: The Oxford <strong>Centre</strong> for Staff Learning and Development<br />

(OCSLD)<br />

Location: Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland<br />

http://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsd.html<br />

Sept 11 - Sept 13<br />

‘Association for Learning Technology (ALT), Annual Conference’<br />

Organisers: ALT<br />

Location: University of Edinburgh<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

P L A N E T<br />

Information for<br />

Contributors<br />

The Editorial committee of PLANET welcomes all material of interest<br />

to academics and support staff in the fields of learning and teaching<br />

across the three disciplines of Geography, Earth and Environmental<br />

Sciences. Generic submissions from other disciplines and submissions<br />

with an international dimension are also invited. PLANET also<br />

welcomes learning and teaching ‘work in progress’.<br />

The audience for PLANET is academics, support staff and educational<br />

developers. Therefore, you should write clear lucid English, avoiding<br />

where possible the use of acronyms. Where acronyms are used, a full<br />

explanation should be provided the first time that it appears in the<br />

text. Articles accepted for publication may be subject to editing.<br />

Types of Contributions<br />

Short research papers, notes or short communications, case studies<br />

of learning and teaching practice, annotated web-links, software and<br />

book reviews, forum commentary, and letters to the editor commenting<br />

on an article previously published in PLANET, or on current higher<br />

education issues.<br />

Main Paper Submissions:<br />

General: Manuscripts must be typewritten. The author(s) should<br />

provide contact details, including email addresses. All submissions<br />

should be in electronic format.<br />

Forthcoming Special<br />

Edition of PLANET<br />

A special edition of PLANET will soon be made available. The issue<br />

will provide in-depth coverage of a recent conference run by the<br />

National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> entitled ‘Using C & IT to support fieldwork<br />

teaching’ held at the University of Leeds in November 2000. The<br />

conference proceedings will be a valuable resource for all delegates<br />

who participated in <strong>this</strong> event, and for those who were not in<br />

attendance. Contents will range from articles on the importance of<br />

C & IT in fieldwork through to case studies of specific fieldwork learning<br />

and teaching materials. The edition will include a CD-ROM of material<br />

showcased at the conference.<br />

Forthcoming Articles in the June<br />

2001 issue of PLANET:<br />

‘The Pros and Cons of Peer Assessment’<br />

Ian Hughes<br />

University of Leeds<br />

‘Disabled students and fieldwork: towards inclusivity?’<br />

Mick Healey<br />

Cheltenham and Gloucester College of HE<br />

Paper Length: Main papers should normally be in the order of 1000-<br />

2000 words, although longer articles may be considered. Notes, or<br />

short communications, annotated web-links, book and software reviews,<br />

forum commentary and letters to the editor, should be no longer<br />

than 400 words.<br />

Referencing:<br />

All publications cited within any text should be presented in accordance<br />

with the Harvard Referencing System.<br />

Illustrations:<br />

All illustrations should be provided in a reproducible form (<strong>this</strong> may<br />

include reduction).<br />

All articles with any accompanying figures, tables, diagrams and<br />

photographs, should be submitted in electronic format to:<br />

Stephen Gaskin<br />

Operational Editor<br />

LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography,<br />

Earth and Environmental Sciences<br />

Room 509, The Moneycentre<br />

University of Plymouth<br />

Drake Circus<br />

Devon, PL4 8AA UK.<br />

Email: sgaskin@plymouth.ac.uk<br />

Tel: +44 (0)1752 233535<br />

Fax: +44 (0)1752 233534<br />

http://www.gees.ac.uk<br />

Contact Us!<br />

If you have any questions or queries about <strong>this</strong> publication, or<br />

on any learning and/or teaching issue, then contact the <strong>Subject</strong><br />

<strong>Centre</strong> team at:<br />

The LTSN National <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> for Geography, Earth and<br />

Environmental Sciences<br />

University of Plymouth<br />

Room 509, The Moneycentre<br />

Drake Circus<br />

Plymouth<br />

Devon UK<br />

PL4 8AA<br />

Tel: +44 (0)1752 233530<br />

Fax: +44 (0) 1752 233534<br />

Email: jgill@plymouth.ac.uk<br />

Website: http://www.gees.ac.uk<br />


Issue One January 2001<br />

Visit the <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>’s website for a downloadable version of PLANET:<br />

http://www.gees.ac.uk<br />

and find out more about:<br />

• <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong> News and Events<br />

• The Information Gateway: ‘Project Tellus’<br />

• Learning and Teaching Projects<br />

• Links to other <strong>Subject</strong> <strong>Centre</strong>s and Learning and Teaching sites<br />

Learning and Teaching<br />

Support Network<br />

Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences<br />

PLANET ISSN Number 1473-1835

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