GEOG 312 – Natural Hazards

‘Learn by Doing: Online’ – Interactive and Custom Teaching Tools


Finding new ways to reach students online recently involved redeveloping an existing course designed with interactive learning technologies. GEOG 312 – Natural Hazards introduces students to geographic events such as volcanoes, landslides, tsunamis, and floods – all immensely impactful on the landscape. Each are active events. So, it made sense that learning about these hazards should be an active event as well.

To start the process rolling, our CODE videographer Nathan Douglas hopped into a truck with SFU Geography lecturer Andrew Perkins and drove into some wilderness areas for location filming. The resulting course specific field research videos were then embedded with quiz questions that keep students engaged, and provide important feedback for learners and instructor alike. Interrupting lecture video with a question provides moments for deeper insight. The course also applies a variety of collaborative learning objects such as custom mapping tools designed by CODE that allow students to input and share data with each other, and interactive tutorials with knowledge check questions. Other examples of applying theory to practice in the course included links to interactive games where students assess the effect of personally designed virtual earthquakes on tall buildings. Besides being an engaging way to learn, these tools are signposts for student progress in the course – wayfinding that makes sense in a geography course.

Use of these customized interactive learning tools help students in GEOG 312 to become immersed in the world of a geography field researcher, looking at the impact and mitigation of natural disasters occurring in and around British Columbia and beyond.