Abstract Detail

Teaching Virtual Plant Systematics/Flora Courses

Ickert-Bond, Stefanie [1], Bouffard, Christen [2], Kaden, Ute [3].

Teaching AK flora online – before and during the COVID-19 pandemic – lessons learned from three years of asynchronous delivery.

As the largest state in the union, Alaska embodies 663,000 mi2 (1/5 of the territory of the USA) of extraordinary scenic and wild country, the highest mountain on the continent (Denali: 20,320 feet), and extensive natural resources. Serving students in this vast rural area is a complex task and online course delivery is a valuable alternative to on-campus enrollment for many of the rural students in our state. Designing online education using place- relevant pedagogy and the natural surroundings of where the students reside may increase curiosity and engagement in learning botany.  The "Intro to Alaska’s Flora" four week asynchronous online course was developed to provide equitable access to introductory science learning and has been offered since 2018. One of the hallmarks of systematic botany courses is the hands-on learning experience in a laboratory setting. To create a similar lab experience for the online offering, we have carefully chosen technology that will allow students from all over the state (and even outside Alaska) to collect data in their home communities, perform plant dissections and have a hands-on learning experience within the flora’s native environment. Instead of traditional course materials like textbooks, students will purchase an inexpensive wide-angle macro lens that connects to their smartphone or tablet. This 2-inch lens lets students take high-resolution, detailed photos of flora on the go with classifying meta data, such as GPS location attached. The technology not only lets students mimic lab spaces in their own natural areas but also expands their digital networks through the submission of images to iNaturalist, enabling them to share and collaborate with enthusiasts around the world and contribute citizen science data to research . Students don’t just sit at their computers in this class, they go outside, touch with their hands and share what they discover. The course design includes carefully videotaped lectures using the Learning Glass platform, video dissection demonstrations, virtual biome exploration using a 360° camera, and selected interactive reading materials, which will be shared during the presentation. Preliminary results of student evaluations and design elements that worked well for learning will be presented. This course is an exciting intersection of curiosity for wild plants, an exploration of Alaska’s plant communities and an accessible introduction to the science of botany.

Related Links:
Introduction to Flora of Alaska class website
Frontier Botany - Ickert-Bond Lab: systematics meets ecology, paleontology, and genomics
eCampus, University of Alaska

1 - University Of Alaska Fairbanks, Herbarium (ALA) And Dept. Of Biology And Wildlife, University Of Alaska Fairbanks, 1962 Yukon Dr., Fairbanks, AK, 99775, United States
2 - UAF eCampus, University of Alaska Fairbanks, , Bunnell Bldg., Suite 131, , Fairbanks, AK, 99775, USA
3 - School of Education, University of Alaska Fairbanks, , Ernest Gruening Building 709C, 1747 South Chandalar Drive, , Fairbanks, Alaska, 99775, USA

asynchronous delivery
Flora of Alaska
Learning Glass

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Session: COL09, Teaching Virtual Plant Systematics and Flora Courses
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
Time: 4:00 PM
Number: COL09003
Abstract ID:438
Candidate for Awards:None

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