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Athabasca University e-Lab

Interactive Research and Teaching Resources

Interdisciplinary Labs at AU

Four researchers are embarking on projects that will produce resources for researchers and students in the fields of Geography, Archaeology, and Anthropology.

Dr. Fredérique Pivot's project consists of creating realistic collaborative virtual geographic environments, or virtual worlds. Software today can create highly realistic collaborative virtual environments, offering actual 3D renderings as fine as a blade of grass. They can also be fed with weather data to recreate actual weather conditions in real time or information on water levels in rivers and lakes, road traffic, etc. These dynamic virtual representations of the real world can provide higher levels of interactivity, and effective ways of training geography students in field methods. Dr. Pivot’s purpose is to test whether such environments can improve the learning experience and whether they improve the training of geographers. Dr. Josh Evans will collaborate with Dr. Pivot in creating an online research and teaching lab that will train geographers in how to use new technologies to solve problems and conduct geographic analysis.

Dr. Leslie Johnson plans to reduce years of ethnographic research to an online digital collection for dissemination and use by other researchers in her field.

Dr. Meaghan Peuramaki-Brown is constructing a Virtual Archaeology Laboratory (AU-VAL), in partnership with the AU e-Lab, building a material culture study collection from visualization data, especially that collected in the form of scans of artifacts from field excavation sites in Mexico and Belize, as well as Alberta (current areas of specialization of AU archaeologists). Generating 3D models of archaeological objects will allow Dr. Peuramaki-Brown to measure an object without physically exporting it (if it is physically located in another country) and/or handling it, and to execute difficult operations such as generating section drawings of different planes or at different orientations, or collecting data from complex surfaces, as is often the case for many artifact classes. Ideally, AU students would also have the ability to study within the lab OR go to a local public library and print the scans using a 3D printer, which are becoming increasingly common across North America, allowing them to learn from a tactile medium as well as visual.