Initial Publication Date: February 2, 2021


Editor-in-Chief Redina Finch, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL.

Welcome to a new year and a new semester! I certainly needed the break after last semester. Hopefully you managed to take a break and do something fun too. We've had a bit of ice and snow in Illinois to make things a little more challenging and a lot more beautiful!

As we move into another COVID-19-influenced semester, we've all become experts(ish) at adapting to new teaching demands. I've always said that teachers are some of the most creative and giving people. In the Trenches articles certainly illustrate that. Since we've all had to adjust our teaching to a more online mode, the January issue is very timely. This special issue is fully online and features articles that highlight some of the innovative ways we've transitioned to teaching online and continue to inspire students.

Our first article is a group effort to overcome the pandemic-induced challenge of not being able to offer in-person field camps and field experiences by creating remote field experiences for geologists. The article describes the culmination of the work done over many weeks by a large community of educators who came together to fill a need. These models for teaching field camp and virtual or remote field experiences will likely last well into the future, especially as we strive to lower barriers for students.

Our second article features the Geoscience Ambassadors program, which amplifies voices of undergraduate and graduate geoscience students from a diverse array of backgrounds, identities, and communities. The program supports a fantastic set of student ambassadors; each have their own web page to tell their story, including their pathway into and experiences in the field of geoscience. These stories are not only inspiring, but also an asset to educators as we try to illustrate and encourage innovative ways to increase diversity in the geosciences.

Our final article is a discussion of ways to get our students to think about what they learn, and more importantly, how to use what they already know to make informed guesses. Eight scenarios are presented to help students think deeply and critically, calling upon knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout their academic career to answer a quantitative question. You'll never think of the phrase "I don't have a clue" the same way again.

So far (week two!) the spring semester is far less crazy than the fall was, now that some of the dust has settled. Student resilience and adaptability still amazes me! --Redina

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