Interactive digital learning for geoscience students: EarthQuiz and other web-hosted challenges

Project No.
PI Name
Steven Whitmeyer
James Madison University
Target Discipline


Abstract 1

Interactive digital learning for geoscience students: EarthQuiz and other web-hosted challenges

Presentation Type
Whitmeyer, S.J. De Paor, D.G. Bentley, C. Team GEODE


These interactive web-based visualizations address the need for inquiry-based learning in a digital environment that is familiar to students. The digital environment also facilitates self-evaluation and autoscoring.


The overarching goals for the project are to bring features and processes of the natural world to every student, regardless of location or physical constraints.


We use existing digital imagery and digital elevation models to creat virtual environments that replicate real-world situations and conditions. Students are in control of exploring these virtual environments, but with guidelines and constraints set by module designers and instructors.


We have developed an interactive challenge called EarthQuiz that uses existing web-hosted imagery to let students explore iconic geologic features from locations around the globe (

We are developing an interactive animation of the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea and modern plate tectonics (

We also have developed additional web-based interactive learning modules, such as the Fold Analysis Challenge (

Broader Impacts

The learning modules developed by this project have direct relevance to geoscience education, but many are also applicable to the broader STEM community. In addition, the methodologies we use can be utilized by others with similar goals for developing interactive web-based exercises and visualizations.

Unexpected Challenges

1. Our postdoc moved on to greener pastures (good for our postdoc mentoring plan!)

2. Our platforms (Google Earth application, Google Earth API, Google Maps) are constantly in flux, requiring us to be nimble to keep our learning modules working.


Dordevic, M. and Whitmeyer, S.J. 2015. MaRGEE: Move and rotate Google Earth elements. Computers & Geosciences, v. 85, p. 1-9, doi: 10.1016/j.cageo.2015.09.04.

Dordevic, M., De Paor, D.G., Whitmeyer, S.J., Bentley, C., Whittecar, G.R., and Constants. C. 2015. Puzzles invite you to explore Earth with interactive imagery. EOS, v. 96, p. 12-16, doi: 10.1029/2015EO032621.

De Paor, D.G., Dordevic, M.M., Karabinos, P., Tewksbury, B.J., and Whitmeyer, S.J. 2016. The fold analysis challenge: A virtual globe-based educational resource. Journal of Structural Geology, v. 85, p. 85-94, doi: 10.1016/j.jsg.2016.02.005.

Whitmeyer, S.J., and De Paor, D.G. 2014. Crowdsourcing Digital Maps Using Citizen Geologists. EOS, v. 95, p. 397-399, doi: 10.1002/2014EO440001.

Plus 12 abstracts at geoscience conferences.

Project Page