The Virtual Journey Within the Rock Cycle provides learners with 4 interconnected views of the rock cycle system (see image below): 1) A symbolic model of the system, in which arrows represent geological processes and boxes represent their products (different types of rocks) 2) A block-diagram representing all the areas of formation of each of the geological processes 3) A zoom-in view, where animation illustrates a specific geological process. 4) A text-box explaining the specific geological process.
The Rationale Behind the Feature (Specific Design Principle):
Designers can help learners understand a complex phenomenon by representing multiple related aspects of the system at the same time on the screen, and showing how changes in one aspect, causes changes the others.
Context of Use:
Systems-thinking is a very difficult thing to acquire. The first stage should be learning the components of the system. We used the software to help students put the pieces together only after they gained some knowledge about the pieces (geological processes and their products)
Middle and high school grade students imporved their systems thinking in a geological context as a result of a 2 hour interaction with the software. See reference below
Kali, Y. (2003). A virtual journey within the rock-cycle: A software kit for the development of systems-thinking in the context of the earths crust. The Journal of GeoScience Education. (pdf file at http://yaelkali.org)