Assessment Challenge: How can geography students become familiar with essential tools of the trade–field instruments, if we can’t get the instruments to the students?

Solution: Have each student create an instructional video to teach the rest of the class how to use two specific field instruments.

Although students were not able to manipulate the actual instruments (e.g., GPS devices) they were still required to demonstrate an understanding of the tools and their uses. In order to satisfy this criteria of the course, Jeff Lewis and Michele Patterson created an assignment in which students researched and recreated actual tools, and then presented instructional videos on those tools. For example, one student built his own instruments with duct tape, hockey sticks, push pins and toilet paper rolls, and then demonstrated their use with blankets, cardboard arrows and gum boots. See videos below, shared with permission.

What the instructors noted here was that the assignment opened the door to endless possibilities, and put the design element into the hands of students. And although not the exact experience instructors were hoping for, this assignment provided an alternative opportunity for students to achieve the learning outcomes in this online world, and resulted in remarkable creativity.