Thursday, August 11, 2016: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Grand Floridian Blrm D, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Meghan Collins, Desert Research Institute
Luanna B. Prevost, University of South Florida;
Amy M. Kamarainen, Harvard University; and
Rebecca Jordan, Rutgers University
Amanda E. Sorensen, Rutgers University
With rapid growth in cyberlearning technologies, what potential do these tools have for ecology education? How do we use technology to enhance learning without replacing experiences in the real world? These questions – and possible tensions – will be explored in this organized oral session. This topic is of interest to a wide audience because these questions touch not only how we learn and the way we teach, but how we train our future ecologists in new research methods related to these technologies.
The aim of this session is to explore how cyberlearning and virtual learning technologies can complement ecology education. In doing so, we acknowledge that this is a very diverse set of tools that fall along a spectrum from online classes, to digital technologies used in the field, to game-based learning, to virtual labs, and more. Speakers in this session straddle research and practice, advancing the field of cyberlearning for wise use in ecology. These emerging technologies may need to be accompanied by new evaluation methods, and presentations will bring both case study and evidence-based approaches that respond to the call for justification of new learning tools through new evaluation and assessment approaches.
This issue is important for the field of ecology education because of the potential offered to broaden and deepen the reach of ecology education. Technologies have the potential to foster student engagement, reduce cognitive load, and enhance computational thinking. Students can visualize ecological phenomena, and models can help students work across and experience scales of time and space that they would not otherwise be able to observe in the course of a lab or a semester. Where connectivity allows, cyberlearning also ‘democratizes’ and broadens access to ecology education for underserved students, resource-strapped institutions, or populations with disabilities. Enabling students to work with real-time data in labs is a powerful tool for training future ecologists.
This Organized Oral Session will be a valuable contribution to the dialog at the 101st Ecological Society of America meeting as we continually advance fields of teaching and research while addressing the needs of 21st century ecology students using 21st century technology.