Geology Comes to Life Through Colorado State University Professor’s Video Explorations Around the World

For the past several years, Colorado State University geology Professor Jerry Magloughlin has traveled the world filming “Expeditions in Geology,” a series of three DVDs that educate students about geologic features and processes.

“With these videos, I am able to bring the most geologically interesting features, places, events and processes right into the classroom,” Magloughlin said. “It’s like taking students on a field trip specifically for college and university students.”

Magloughlin has found that the four- to eight-minute videos capture the attention of his students more efficiently than lectures alone and are among students’ favorite part of his highly rated courses. Magloughlin hosts and narrates the high-definition videos, which were filmed and edited with a small crew including CSU student Lindsay Simpson and former CSU geology student Kendra Soderberg. Brooklyn-based musician Bryan Teoh provided scores for the videos, and computer animations were created to illustrate ultra-slow or hidden geologic processes.

Professors at universities and colleges throughout the United States and Canada are using the “Expeditions in Geology” videos. The third installment of the series is due out soon.

“The videos don’t take the place of chapters in textbooks by any means,” Magloughlin said. “But they do add depth by taking students through a specific topic in greater visual and scientific detail than they usually get in an introductory physical geology course.”

Magloughlin traveled to Scotland, Italy, Fiji, New Zealand, Hawaii and throughout the continental United States to shoot footage for the videos. He drove more than 60,000 miles making and hosting the videos on ferries, boats, a jet ski, a motor scooter, a bicycle, helicopters and small planes.

“The project has made me a better instructor by giving me the chance to visit a lot of places I normally wouldn’t have visited as part of my research. It has been an amazing opportunity, but the best part is inspiring students to go out and visit these geological destinations once they’ve learned about how they formed,” he said.

Topics for the videos include the Hawaiian volcanoes, Oregon’s Crater Lake, the Pompeii-burying volcanic eruption of Italy’s Mount Vesuvius, the San Andreas Fault, the formation of natural arches and bridges, Utah’s active Wasatch Fault, desert processes in Death Valley National Park, the Mississippi River, the volcanoes of the San Francisco volcanic field in Arizona and how geology affected a pivotal World War II battle in Cassino, Italy.

Each DVD is about an hour long and contains11 to 14 individual videos, suitable for showing in the classroom or streaming online. Students can go online and review the videos as many times as they wish. Accompanying the online videos are interactive options for students such as a review of key terms and concepts, multiple choice quizzes and discussion questions.

W.H. Freeman, publisher of college and university textbooks in the sciences, provided three years of funding for the project.

Magloughlin is working on a physical geology text and e-book that will build on the success of the videos and integrate them with other forms of presentation.