Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

Earthlearningidea: A Worldwide Web-Based Resource of Simple but Effective Teaching Activities

Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

Earthlearningidea: A Worldwide Web-Based Resource of Simple but Effective Teaching Activities

Article excerpt


Earthlearningidea was developed, without funding, to publish a new Web-based earth science teaching idea every week during the International Year of Planet Earth (2008); during 2009, publication continued, but at monthly intervals. The activities were mostly practically based and were aimed particularly at teachers and teacher educators in the developing world, who teach in classrooms with minimal resources, and they aimed to develop active and inquiry-based learning approaches. Earthlearningidea's success is indicated by the fact that, by December 2009, 69 activities had been published, activity pdf files had been downloaded more than 110,000 times, and the blog had been accessed in 152 countries, with positive feedback from many teaching situations. Many of the Earthlearningideas had also been translated into Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, and Chinese (Mandarin). Analysis of those who accessed the Earthlearningideas showed that the majority were from the more developed world. Thus, during 2010-2011, the activities, which were published each fortnight, were created to be slightly more sophisticated than previous activities, for example, in using equipment likely to be available in a school science laboratory, or more abstract ideas. The "stop press" update shows that the success of Earthlearningidea, measured by a range of indicators, is increasing. We ask all our readers to access the site, use the activities, give us blog feedback, and "tell their friends" across the globe.

© 2023 National Association of Geoscience Teachers. [DOI: 10.5408/10-159.1]

Key words: practical activities, inquiry-based learning, thinking skills, Web site, blog, translation


Earthlearningideas can be accessed at the http.7/www. Web site Qiarthlearningidea, 2010), or through a search engine like Google by typing "Earth learning idea." Each Earthlearningidea is an earth science teaching activity, free to download and use, with the aim of teaching earth science knowledge and understanding through active and often inquiry- based teaching methods. The initiative was developed by volunteers because funding bids for other global earth science teaching initiatives had failed, showing how failure can be changed into success by voluntary effort and "thinking outside the box." The site was launched in 2007, activities have been added steadily since then, and the site contained 69 Earthlearningideas by December 2009; since then, a new activity has been added each fortnight. The activities are written for teacher educators and teachers to use, and so do not require printing, unless they are to be taken to a school that has no computer. Some of the "paper and pencil" activities do require single pages to be printed for use by pupils or groups of pupils; however, general classroom access to computers is not required.

The activities were designed for teaching situations in the developing world, where there are few or no resources. However, since Web site feedback showed that Earthlearningideas were being widely used in more developed countries too, the decision was made at the end of 2009 to include slightly more sophisticated activities, requiring normal school laboratory apparatus or more abstract ideas. Earthlearningideas are now being widely used across the world with great success (according to anecdotal feedback from the blog) and have been translated into several languages. Between November 2008 and November 2009, there had been 110,154 downloads of Earthlearningidea activities.


Earthlearningidea was born out of frustration!

At the International Geological Congress in Florence, Italy, in August 2004, the announcement was made that the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) was bidding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for 2008 to become the "International Year of Planet Earth" (IYPE) and that, if the bid was successful, 20 million US dollars would be raised to support the initiative. …

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