Kim Nokar - Digital Stone Worlds
Kim completed her bachelor's degree in Applied Geosciences at RWTH Aachen University in 2012 and then decided to do the post-graduate Master's Program with a focus on Energy and Mineral Resources. She is now doing her doctorate in the fourth year at the geological institute of the RWTH University. Teaching is also part of the doctorate. During her studies she already worked as a student assistant in rock science and then with her doctorate three years ago she took over the entire practical part of the rock science course. In the past winter semester 2020/21, the geology lecture was added.
Since courses are usually planned some time in advance, it was not initially certain whether the lecture could be held in person or whether an online concept would have to be created. Therefore, two concepts were planned in parallel. The development and implementation of the concepts were mainly in her hands, but she got supported by the academic adviser Kathrin Heinzmann. When the decision was made for another online semester, the lecture was the first part that was firmly planned online. Later on, Kim made the decision to have the exercise as an online course too. Until then, this was planned as a laboratory internship with a safety concept in attendance.
In order to be able to bring the rocks closer to the freshmen in the Corona semester, she was supported by 11 student assistants. Each of the handpieces were photographed from different perspectives in high resolution and pictures of the themed rocks were made available to the students on the learning platform on a weekly basis. But the big difference to face-to-face exercises was still getting to know the feel and hardness of the rocks.
The entire planning, but especially the implementation of the online exercise was very time-consuming. Kim tells us, "the biggest challenge was that the situation was new for everyone" and nobody knew what to expect.
In the end, Kim put together an elaborate exercise program. In the first half of the semester, the students were divided into small groups of three to four people, each was supervised by a student assistant. In the second half of the semester, the students worked more independently, but the student assistants were still available to answer questions. In addition, Kim offered the opportunity to upload finished rock descriptions, which were then corrected. The students received feedback on their level of knowledge during the semester. In order to maintain motivation, there were interim tests in addition to the exercise in the five main topics, for which sample solutions were later issued.
All in all, Kim thinks the digital teaching worked well. Platforms such as “Mentimeter” provided the opportunity for interaction, which at the same time encouraged the students to concentrate. Another positive aspect was, that more students took part in the online lecture and the feedback was also very positive overall.
Should a digital rock science have to be implemented again, Kim would set up the event in a similar way. However, she would try to make the handpieces of the rocks available to the students. For the summer semester, Kim hopes that the students can apply what they have learned during excursions and finally get to know the haptics of the rocks.
Finally, we asked Kim what she would like to give the students along the way. Her tip was above all, to think outside the box. To look into different subject areas and to use the offers of the university in addition to studying to acquire soft skills and languages. The student initiatives are also a great opportunity to get to know people and develop further.