Abstract Detail

Teaching Virtual Plant Systematics/Flora Courses

Struwe, Lena [1].

Remote active learning in botany using your students’ homes and neighborhoods – an opportunity and a challenge.

The sudden pandemic of COVID-19 during Spring 2020 threw many botany and biology teachers into instant online-learning mode, and we quickly had to adapt and innovate.  The botanical teaching community responded immediately with free sharing of resources and ideas through blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.  Now we face a situation where our crisis-induced remote teaching might become more long-term due to the transfer of many classes to online for Fall 2020.  The movement of active learning instead of long lectures and a few textbook tests have invigorated science education but is a new challenge when we no longer can teach students directly on campus. How do you teach plant diversity, botany, and evolution online when you as the teacher cannot provide a curated set of plants and tools? Now we will have to rely on the biodiversity of students’ homes and neighborhoods.  Plants are everywhere, so everyone has access to some. (Restrictive situations like prisons is a special case.)  Most people are surrounded by vast and often overlooked plant diversity resources such as parks and gardens, sidewalks and roadsides, supermarkets, kitchens, and windowsills. The accessibility will depend on socioeconomic situations, geographic location, season and climate, and each student’s risk assessment.  The plants might not be the ones you had planned for, but they are there. If students share their materials, collective biodiversity is showcased for experiences and discussion.  To work with such vast but unknown student-provided diversity demands new creativity, flexibility, and approach to assignments from educators. This talk will present a review of options utilizing the vast collective biodiversity of our everyday lives, and how ‘botanize at home’ can make remote active learning possible and exciting for students and teachers. Best practices in structuring a remote active learning course will be discussed, with modulization of content, fine-scale and nimble learning goals, and free online learning resources (iNaturalist, etc.). Challenges and problem solving will be discussed, especially when it comes to potential for plagiarism from the internet, lack of dissecting and photo equipment (could be solved with the provision of university-distributed home lab and field kits), and the creation of interactive social communities within the class to encourage community building and social connections.  It is important to remember that the utilization of remote learning may lead to the increased access of reality-based botany learning to a much larger community than just the students we earlier reached in on-campus-restricted courses.

Related Links:

1 - Rutgers University, Ecology, Evolution, & Natural Resources, 237 Foran Hall, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, United States

field botany
active learning
Inquiry-based study.

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Session: COL09, Teaching Virtual Plant Systematics and Flora Courses
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
Time: 3:00 PM
Number: COL09001
Abstract ID:570
Candidate for Awards:None

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