Abstract Detail

Teaching Virtual Plant Systematics/Flora Courses

Klips, Robert [1], Mattingly, Kali [2], Stone, Benjamin [3].

A course companion with web site with student subdomains eases the shift to online field botany instruction.

As a supplement to the university’s course management system (CMS), the principal instructor of Ohio State’s local flora class developed a self-hosted plant biology web site, referred to as the “course companion web site.” Reachable at https://ohioplants.org/, it contains botanical information in a form that closely corresponds to the manner in which it is presented in class, with menu items for the following: trees, winter botany, conifers, ferns, flowers and fruits, inflorescences, plant families, bryophytes, prairie, invasive plants, and lichens. During normal (non-pandemic) times these pages function mainly as a study aid for reviewing material previously explored in class, displayed in a more engaging format than, say, a .pdf of a PowerPoint lecture posted on the CMS. Moreover, the web site gives the broader public, not just our students, a helpful introduction to Ohio’s plants. With the sudden shift to an online format, students are tasked with independently replicating lab/field experiences on these topics without access to strategically chosen specimens or interactive instruction (notwithstanding nearly 100 newly created assignment-specific videos). The web site provides a bank of examples of the most frequently encountered specimens in the respective taxa, with explanations of the defining characteristics. It also hosts an illustrated manual of the vascular plants of OSU’s home county that substitutes for the normally employed classroom copies of our regional flora. The students are tasked with choosing a natural area on which to perform a botanical survey that includes a written report and several “scavenger hunt” type assignments on the following topics: trees, flowers, interpretive signage, field trips (various subtopics), and their botanical surveys. As a public writing component of the course, each student is given an individual web site to maintain for the duration of the course, on which they blog about their botanical discoveries. About half the course credit comes from these web assignments. The sites use the WordPress platform (Weaver Extreme Theme). They can be quite creative. A credit-earning assignment the last day of class has students visiting each other’s web sites and answering page-specific questions posed by the instructors. Students report enjoying this web site work and we believe the facility they gain with online writing will enhance their career potential. A survey is being developed to identify areas for course improvement, especially ones that relate to distance learning.

Related Links:
Ohio Plants course companion web site

1 - Ohio State University, Evolution Ecology & Organismal Biology, Museum of Biological Diversity, 1315 Kinnear Rd., Columbus , Ohio, 43212, USA
2 - The Ohio State University, Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology, 318 W 12th Ave, 300 Aronoff Laboratory, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA
3 - Ohio State University, Museum of Biological Diversity, 1315 Kinnear Rd., Columbus, Ohio, 43212, United States

teaching methods
student web sites
asynchronous delivery
online learning
field botany

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Session: COL09, Teaching Virtual Plant Systematics and Flora Courses
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
Time: 4:45 PM
Number: COL09006
Abstract ID:883
Candidate for Awards:None

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