Improvements to AntarcticGlaciers.org

Here at AntarcticGlaciers.org we have been busy making many updates to the website. We are particularly keen to update the website to bring it in to line with the reformed A-Level syllabus, and also to update and rewrite some of the older content, and improve the website as a resource to promote public understanding of glaciers and climate change.

Since AntarcticGlaciers.org was founded 6.5 years ago, we have undergone substantial improvements and learned a lot over the years. This outreach endeavour, motivated by a desire to publicly communicate the risks that climate change and rising sea levels pose to our world’s glaciers and ice sheets, has evolved into one of the premier sites on this subject. This website aims to inspire both interested adults and also young people and school children with geology and geomorphology, and specifically targets teachers to supply them with engaging, original content that they can use in lesson planning.

We have been working on developing ‘layered content’, with articles targeted at different levels according to the anticipated end user. We have specifically recently been targeting the UK A-Level syllabus on Glaciers and Glaciated Landscapes, in addition to more complex articles targeted at a more advanced reader. In all these articles, we hope to use engaging imagery and story telling to make content original, exciting and interesting.  We have also been working to flag content (look for the yellow flags) that is especially pertinent to the A-Level; this should make reading easier for students and teachers. We have also explicitly mapped out where our content maps onto the AQA syllabus.

Screenshot of AntarcticGlaciers.org, November 2018, showing yellow flags highlighting A-Level content.

In April 2019, thanks to the generous support of the British Society for Geomorphology, we will be attending the Geographical Association’s Annual Conference and hope to use this opportunity to engage with teachers. We plan to use focus groups and interviews to learn how best to support school and college teachers and understand their needs.

Recent feedback from focus groups and interviews with school teachers has already highlighted a number of issues that could be addressed by a freely available and comprehensive website:

  1. Costs of resources. Budgets in schools are increasingly stretched, to the point that purchasing new text books, even solely for teacher use, is not feasible for one module of an A-Level syllabus. Consequently, school teachers are using the text book produced by the exam board, but have highlighted the lack of engaging resources and detail available. School teachers are therefore looking for a “one stop shop” where they can freely find out information that is pertinent and directly relevant to the A-Level syllabus.
  2. Limited time. Teachers have limited time to search for and assess the reliability of online resources and prepare for lessons. They require resources that are explicitly linked to the syllabus, that are comprehensive, and that are well laid out to assist with lesson planning. However, there is a lack of freely available, reliable and comprehensive resources that teachers can read or set as homework for the students to read in their own time.
  3. Computer access. Geography lessons are usually held in classrooms without computer access. This means that some outreach facilities that require a computer (e.g. Google Earth Pro, Britice practicals etc) are not feasible within the time frame of the lesson. However, computer rooms are available for the students to use outside of lessons where they can undertake student-lead reading and learning.
  4. Expertise. Not all school and college teachers have received training in glaciers and glaciation at University. Those who specialised in human geography in particular may be wary about teaching this subject to their students. These teachers need further support if they are to teach this new content well and enthuse a new generation of Geographers and Glacial Geologists.

Are you a teacher? Do you have experience working in further or higher education? Or perhaps you are a student yourself. If you have any suggestions or comments about how this website could be improved to better suit your needs, please do get in touch – email, twitter, or comment below.

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