What do you do if a Volcano erupts?

In light of the current COVID-19 crisis, Dr Tom Pering has used online group teaching to educate students about the hazards of a volcanic eruption.

Landscape of a volcano against a blue sky

Volcanology is an exciting subject to study at any stage of life. For our third year students, this can take the form of the module Applied Volcanology. This module aims to provide students an overview of the science and monitoring of volcanoes balanced with an understanding of what to do during an eruption crisis.

Recently, Dr Tom Pering has taken an innovative approach to teaching, in which students were asked, in an online environment, to respond to a fictitious eruption scenario. In this they discussed the current state of the fictitious site's volcanic unrest, how it should be monitored, and what the most likely hazards were.

Students were then canvassed to share their individual opinions for group discussion, allowing the group to reach a consensus on the best course of action for this fictitious volcanic crisis. The group also collaborated to develop a recommendation for the future alert level of the volcanic site to ensure the safety of those in the vicinity.

This novel method of teaching shows how a traditionally hands-on topic involving lab work and field work can be made accessible and engaging to students despite the current COVID-19 crisis.

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