Will Educational Technology Fundamentally Transform the Way We Teach Ecology?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
Auditorium, Rm 3, Minneapolis Convention Center
Gregory R. Goldsmith, Paul Scherrer Institute
Amy M. Kamarainen, Harvard University; and Joel K. Abraham, California State University, Fullerton
Joel K. Abraham, California State University, Fullerton
Building a more sustainable future will require empowering the public with the information they need to make informed decisions on environmental issues. Educational technology tools offer unprecedented opportunities for engaging in formal and informal teaching and outreach focused on the science of ecology. The growth in the availability of and access to these tools is such that they are potentially powerful means by which to enhance scientific literacy and ultimately improve sustainability. Not surprisingly, many ecologists and educators are already using technology-based approaches to teach ecological concepts to a diversity of audiences. However, despite the proliferation of new educational technology tools, there have been few attempts within the community to understand the implications for ecology education. Will educational technology fundamentally transform the way that we teach ecology? This symposium will address a critical need for a synthetic perspective on the promises and pitfalls of educational technology. Specifically, we will focus on the transformative potential of these tools for 1) providing novel opportunities for students and the public to understand the nature of science and engage in the practices of ecology, 2) providing personalized access, just-in-time conceptual support, and adaptive feedback toward understanding the environment and 3) improving the means by which we assess understanding of ecological concepts. The symposium will begin by providing an overview of the history of educational technology platforms relevant to ecology education. It will then address the three transformational themes above by providing broad case studies on how educational technology can reach new audiences, how educational technology can enhance the quality of education for different individuals and how technology facilitates new modes of assessment. The symposium will end by providing a look at both current priorities for educational technology tools, as well as the next generation of tools, in the context of these three themes. In congruence with the meeting theme, we seek to both learn from the past by engaging speakers who will address the history and efficacy of educational technology to date, as well shape the future by engaging speakers who will carefully consider the revolutionary nature of educational technology and its implications as we move forward. We expect that the symposium will be of broad interest to those seeking a synthetic perspective on the roles, value, and future of these tools for transforming our ability to teach ecology.
Education Section, Student Section
9:30 AM
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