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Purpose of An Online Mineral Identification Study Guide

  • To provide a media-rich environment for reinforcement and practice of introductory mineral identification, accessible anytime, anywhere, on any device including cellphones
  • To supplement study of minerals in face-to-face introductory laboratory or lecture courses
  • To provide a framework-in-progress for delivering a lab-like learning experience to students in the online environment

Site Digital Assets

  • Guide for learning how to observe and test minerals for properties useful in identification
  • Limited bank of common minerals from which study set samples have been drawn
  • Data form for recording observations
  • Supplemental Activities to extend knowledge and applications

Mineral Bank

Importance of Limited Bank

Students should repetitively practice the guided observation, evaluation, and the naming of unidentified samples from observing properties , recording data, and consulting a mineral identification table for comparison and the matching of features.

Mineral identification tables in lab books typically include many more entries than those in this study kit for students.

By focusing on a limited set of common minerals for which multiple tests are included, this site promotes the learning of the process of identification as important as, or more important than, arriving at the "correct answer" (the mineral name).

Limitations of Bank

The limited number of identified minerals in the bank is far smaller than more extensive tables typically found in a physical geology laboratory text (e.g., AGI/NAGT).

  • This reduces the frequency of uncertainty resulting from faulty observation and/or test results, thus increasing the typical time a student may spend for observation and identification.
  • There are more minerals in the bank than in the unidentified set to increase the cognitive load, but not so high as that encountered with a more extensive bank.

Technology Features of Bank

This bank contains a limited number of identified minerals with properties that should be mostly observable in student samples.

A technology feature of this online bank is the dynamic display of different sets of minerals based on a query (or filter) of particular sets of properties. The workbook displays (at the present time) these filtered mineral combinations.

  • All Minerals
  • All Non-metallic minerals
  • Non-metallic minerals softer than glass
  • Non-metallic minerals harder than glass
  • Metallic minerals

Click table to open in new tab.

Observing Online Images and Video Snips

What happens in a typical geology laboratory exercise on mineral identification?

  • Students examine unidentified specimens in a sample kit ("rocks-in-a-box")
  • Students handle specimens, make observations, perform simple tests, record results, and compare observations against a mineral identification table.
  • Students find a match (or near match, with some uncertainty) between recorded observations and a table entry.
  • Students identify the sample by name on the basis of the set of matching properties.

Can the laboratory procedures be (mostly) replicated online?

  • Observation and testing samples dominate the mineral identification laboratory experience.
  • High quality images and video snips can effectively show sample surface features and the testing procedures that students would otherwise observe when manipulating physical specimens.

What's Missing Through Online Digital Media?

  • Some physical properties are not easily portrayed through digital media (e.g., density) without publishing additional data.
  • Some properties are not as easily interpreted through digital media as when viewed on a physical specimen (e.g., the quality of reflected light for luster).
  • Students miss the process of handling physical samples, and the manipulation required for performing tests on samples.

To What Degree Can Students Learn Mineral Properties and Identification From Only Observing Online Media?

  • Uncertain at this time. That's why this site was created!

Technology - Advantages & Disadvantages

The diversity of client devices has been rapidly increasing, with increasing frequency of media consumption by students on their cellphones compared to laptops. This makes the development of websites more difficult for those of us who are not web designers and coders. I built this site with the new Google Sites, a technology that does not require web programming.

Significant Disadvantages of Website Creation in the new Google Sites

  • Functions for showing web content are limited compared to other platforms, such as WordPress.
  • Inserted apps (without HTML programming) are limited to Google technology (YouTube, Maps, Docs, Sheets, Calendar, Slides, Forms, Charts).
  • Some links to online resources will display advertisements.

Significant Advantages of Website Creation in the new Google Sites

  • Content is dynamically reformatted on the server backend (i.e., a "responsive" technology) for the client device, from laptops to cellphones.
  • No programming knowledge required to construct web page.
  • No software installation on a client device is required, other than a web browser (Google's Chrome is ideal).
  • Free, fast, and automatic saving of changes with ability to rollback to previous content within a page.
  • Integrated with Google Apps, making it easy to add content (e.g., text, images and video) if content already stored on Docs and YouTube.
  • Google Analytics available for data collection and analysis.

What This Resource Is Not

  • Not an exhaustive guide to all minerals, common and rare.
  • Not a collection of assets fully developed for use in mineral identification independent of a textbook or other teaching resources.
  • Not an authoritative archive of expert information.
  • Not a finished work.