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GeoPad: New tool for field education

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Notebook, rock hammer, compass, clipboard, topographic maps and aerial photographs—these are the tools that generations of geology students have used to learn the science and hone their mapping and observation skills in the field.

Now add GeoPad, a mobile computer application developed at the University of Michigan to enhance field education.

Combining newly available TabletPC computers designed to withstand outdoor conditions, integrated Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receivers, digital datasets, Geographic Information System (GIS) software and 3-D visualization software, the GeoPad allows students to record, manipulate, integrate and view their observations and mapping data in ways that never were possible with traditional paper-based methods.

"With the GeoPad, we're doing the digital equivalent of that, but with much better and more complete ability to manipulate the information and images." For example, students can rotate the maps to get different views and switch from 2-D to 3-D representations of whatever they're looking at in the real world.

That's a big advantage in helping students understand how a 2-D map corresponds to the 3-D landscape, a skill that many find difficult to master, said Ben van der Pluijm, U-M professor of geological sciences.Students can also incorporate other information for the area, such as soil characteristics, vegetation patterns or land-use data. "By providing more information than we could give them in the field in the past, we're significantly adding to the learning experience rather than just replacing the old fashioned way of doing it," said van der Pluijm.

For further information:
Excerpted from Press Release by GeoCommunity™

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