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Messages - Des

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Hi All,

This resource has just been updated with additional virtual field trips and a refreshed design.

'How to...' videos and additional worksheets remain on the to-do list. Later this year, I'll be adding 360 degree videos of supraglacial environments (meltwater channels etc) and additional virtual field trips.

I'm running a workshop at this year's GA Conference. Please do come along if you want to find out more.

Best wishes,

Hi All,

The worksheet for the Moiry Valley virtual field trip is now available for download from the website. It currently exists as a PDF, but a Word version will be provided in due course.

If you use the resource, I'd be grateful for any feedback.

Best wishes,

Hi All,
Some of you may be interested in the following event.
Best wishes,


A-level Geography: Using ‘VR Glaciers and Glaciated Landscapes’ in the classroom

Wednesday 21 November, 17:00 – 19:30, University of Worcester
(Refreshments will be provided)

Dr Des McDougall, Principal Lecturer in Geography / Acting Head of School, School of Science and the Environment, University of Worcester WR2 6AJ

The University of Worcester, in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), is running a free CPD event for A-level teachers. It will explore how the new, free-to-use ‘VR Glaciers and Glaciated Landscapes’ resource can be used in the classroom to support the new A-level specification. Participants will also be able to trial a new, editable worksheet, which they will be able to take away and use with their students.

What is ‘VR Glaciers and Glaciated Landscapes?’
This is a new, free-to-use resource that provides on-demand, simulated fieldwork to glaciers and glaciated landscapes. Its primary role is in supporting class- and lab-based teaching of glaciers and glaciation in schools, colleges and universities. It is not intended to replace real fieldwork, for which there is no substitute.

The resource has received financial support from the University of Worcester, the Quaternary Research Association and the British Society for Geomorphology.

It can be accessed here:

Why use ‘VR Glaciers and Glaciated Landscapes?’
The topic of glaciers and glaciation is sometimes perceived by students and teachers as being more difficult than others associated with more familiar environments, such as rivers and coasts. Nevertheless, well-designed fieldwork in areas with glaciers and/or glaciated landscapes can make all the difference to their understanding and enjoyment of it. Unfortunately, fieldwork to these environments rarely takes place around the same time as students learn about them in class. Sometimes, fieldwork does not take place at all. Through its on-demand, simulated fieldwork to glaciers and glaciated landscapes, this resource provides a solution.

VR Glaciers and Glaciated Landscapes may be of interest to forum members. It is a free-to-use virtual fieldwork resource that can be viewed on a range of devices - phones, tablets, PCs and Macs - with internet access. The virtual field trips can be used to create a range of activities at any academic level.

A leaflet on the resource can be accessed here:

The resource itself can be accessed here:

General Discussion / Re: GA Conference
« on: March 28, 2018, 10:20:09 PM »
I'm looking forward to the workshop on 'Virtual Glaciers and Glaciated Landscapes' (yes, really). It's the only session I'm able to attend, unfortunately. I'm hoping I'll be there for longer next year.

General Discussion / Re: Glaciation in the Lake District
« on: January 29, 2015, 03:36:41 PM »
For anyone interested in this field meeting, please note that registration is now open. A flyer and registration form can be downloaded via the following link (or by going through the Quaternary Research Association website):

General Discussion / Glaciation in the Lake District
« on: November 29, 2014, 12:56:45 AM »
The Quaternary Research Association is holding its annual field meeting in the Lake District in May 2015. The theme is glaciation and landscape development. This might be of interest to some members. For further details, download the 'advance notice' poster from the following link:

General Discussion / Re: Global warming-95% sure..
« on: September 28, 2013, 05:50:07 PM »
Hi Steve,

I quite agree - it's important that students develop critical thinking skills and do not necessarily take everything they are told at face value. Part of this involves giving some consideration to the credibility of the source. As you know, the IPCC does not undertake any of its own original research. Instead, it carries out systematic reviews of the scientific literature and endeavors to produce consensus statements on what is known about climate change. Whilst not foolproof, I think this approach is probably as good as it gets. I certainly don't have the time to review all the published literature and come up with my own assessment. Conversely, I would be much more critical if I read an individual blog post by someone I'd never heard of asserting that present-day climate change is entirely a result of natural variability; it might be true, but I'd wonder why it hadn't been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

I don't dispute that we do not know everything there is to know about climate change; everybody thinks about greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, but there is still a lot of work to be done on the other components of the climate system (especially the oceans, which can absorb a great deal of heat energy - up to a point). Unfortunately, the media do not deal very well with scientific uncertainty; they (and others) expect definitive answers - which science will never provide (on any topic).

Reviewing the IPCC material critically is a good, scientific approach, but it's important that students understand: (i) the scientific method, including the fact that there are no 'absolute truths'; and (ii) the IPCC reviews the existing peer-reviewed literature and produces a consensus statement on climate change.

The different start dates for the datasets you refer to may be simply when the records started? If this is not the case and the report's authors are trying to be devious, we'll soon find out about it! There were a couple of minor - but nevertheless embarrassing - errors in the last report, which scientists picked up very quickly (and, subsequently, the media).

Finally, the Quaternary perspective is an interesting one. Yes, climate varies on a range of timescales, both as a result of external forcings as well as from internal variability within the climate system itself. Whilst some periods within glacial-interglacial cycles are more stable than others, there has probably never been a period in which there was no some element of natural climate variability. This inevitably leads to the question: could recent changes simply be a result of natural variability? It is impossible to exclude the possibility, but there is no sound scientific evidence for this currently.

General Discussion / Re: Global warming-95% sure..
« on: September 28, 2013, 01:25:35 PM »
"...BUT when the data does not seem to fit the hypotheses over the past 15 years..."

I think you're being a bit disingenuous here. What data are you referring to? Arctic sea ice extents? Ocean temperatures? Glacier mass balances? Have a look at the IPCC website and see for yourself. Just steer clear of the Daily Mail, Daily Express etc.  ;)

[You did say that it was a question that students might ask, and I may have done you a complete disservice by assuming that you take the same view - apologies if not.]

General Discussion / Re: Geography 100 Years Ago
« on: June 06, 2013, 07:08:21 PM »
Dave - I followed the link and I was able to download it for free. Check again, or email me.

...or maybe not. I accessed it at work this morning no problem, but cannot access it at home now.

General Discussion / Re: Geography 100 Years Ago
« on: June 06, 2013, 08:13:06 AM »
Dave - I followed the link and I was able to download it for free. Check again, or email me.

General Discussion / Re: Why can't we just use Google Images?
« on: March 12, 2013, 04:56:57 PM »
That's an expensive lesson!

Flickr is, presumably, a better source of free imagery because all the content has been (intentionally) uploaded and the copyright status is explicit.

General Discussion / Re: Geog Collective gets famous!
« on: February 22, 2013, 09:51:26 PM »
I'd love to know what the issues are.

Hmmm...I don't think we're getting anywhere here. Perhaps my background doesn't allow me to see things as clearly as you do, Ian, when it comes to the issues that are being introduced (not addressed, simply introduced) in this video. As Victoria points out, the video is part of a wider resource, and should not be considered in isolation.

General Discussion / Re: Geog Collective gets famous!
« on: February 22, 2013, 09:14:31 PM »
Okay, I've watched the video again. This time I paid closer attention, particularly to what was being said.

I think it's a good video, one that introduces the issues in a stylish way. The local was not ignored, although you need to be paying enough attention to differentiate between the global and local businesses (the former are, by definition, more obvious than the latter).

The bit of the video that made me smile was the music shop scene, where Dan gives that young chap browsing through the LPs a rather strange look...

General Discussion / Re: Geog Collective gets famous!
« on: February 22, 2013, 08:27:30 PM »
Can we all fly around the world on a whim, stay in international standard hotels and take black cabs around London to do a spot of shopping with models and actors all around?

Well, chance would be a fine thing. I'll have a look at the video again, but I really don't think that is what it is all about. As I said previously, I think the problem - if there is one -  is in the premium and stylistically-consistent feel of the entire video, which may blur the boundaries between the opening and closing 'sponsor message' and the main content. By the way, I'm not saying that a stylish, professional video is a bad thing!!

Could the topic have been presented in another way? I'm sure it could have been, but after a busy day (and preparing to go in at the weekend) I don't have many ideas to offer here, Ian. Besides, I'm a physical geographer...

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