Initial Publication Date: July 10, 2020

FROM THE EDITOR: And Now for Something Completely Different...

By Editor in Chief Redina Finch, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL

Wow, these are certainly crazy times. We ended the semester with 8+ weeks of online teaching given by instructors who had little notice to students who had little preparation ... and we survived! Pat yourselves on the back!! Now we move on to the task of figuring out how the fall semester is going to go. There have been some amazing discussions at Teach-geo-online. I encourage you to sign up to get these discussions in your mailbox. Then log in and learn — or share your insights. The 2020 Online Earth Educator's Rendezvous, July 13-17, is another great place to get ideas for fall. We've added sessions specifically related to teaching online. Registration here.

Looking Ahead...
The January 2021 issue of In The Trenches will be a special one that highlights some of the incredible electronic resources, information, and materials available to help instructors teach online and to help students learn online. It will be completely online to showcase the topics that live better in an online environment. "Papers" could be text documents that reference online resources or a video presentation. Pretty much anything goes. I'm planning to talk about a 3-D paper model that I had my students build to FROM THE EDITOR: And Now for Something Completely Different... understand atmospheric motion. I'd love to showcase some of your accomplishments there as well. If you have ideas, send me an email at

But First... 
This issue leads with an article on the Office of Sustainability at Western Kentucky University, where sustainability is tied directly to student experiences through a food pantry, a community garden, and tours of the university's infrastructure facilities. 

A great article on lesson planning gets us back to basics. Springboarding from a presentation at the Early Career Geoscience Faculty Workshop, it will help us all stay focused, organized, and prepared. 

Another article in our series on NSF IUSE GEOPaths projects features one designed to get students into the geosciences pipeline by making geoscience careers more visible: Career Circles. Career Circles can be done virtually or face-to-face, so they're perfect for these uncertain times. More information about the NSF IUSE GEOPaths program is available at:

The last article in this issue presents a unique way to teach a difficult topic. Geostatistics is challenging for most students. "Music as a Metaphor in Mining Geostatistics" makes it easier for students to "see" what's going on by applying geostatistics techniques to music. 

Good luck as we head into summer and prepare for fall. Have some fun along the way! — Redina

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