March 13, 2020 at 1:27 pm #50398LoriAnne BarnettKeymaster
As the Director of the AZ Master Naturalist program and the coordinator for training for the Pima Chapter, I made a decision the other day to move our weekly classroom-based course from a 3 hour in person meeting to an online forum space. Since the university has also canceled in person classes, this seemed to make sense.
Our classes typically include some lecture-based content and a few hands on activities for participants, who are all 18 and older. This poses a challenge because one of the main benefits of our training is to get people to discuss things with each other and work on problems together.
Because we have about 18 people in a tight classroom space that is not regularly cleaned, I decided that it was best to make this decision. A few of the participants have written to me thanking me for doing that – they are still interested in participating but were going to have to make a hard choice about whether or not to return b/c they were uncomfortable being in a closed space with others. I do a fair amount of online teaching for my day job because my participants are from all over the country and I’ve developed some creative ways to do active learning about the environment in an online zoom call.
We are still struggling with whether or not to hold our outdoor field labs – it seems that being outside is helpful, and less stressful, but people are very concerned that working in small groups will be an issue if they are infected or don’t know it. About half of our participants are also in the 50+ age bracket.
Anyone else have ideas to share for delivering environmental content in an online forum vs in person?
March 16, 2020 at 12:29 pm #50405Staci GradyParticipant
Hey there LA!
This one is a tough one. This is just a thought but…..
I’m wondering if we may be able to apply interactivity in hybrid science courses to nature-based courses. My sister takes several hybrid science courses that require labs. While this does place the burden of material collection on her, they do give her explicit instruction on how to interact with the lab and course content. The experience is still hands-on, which is beneficial. I know that these interactions may be difficult to isolate in nature-based instruction and especially group work, but perhaps pairing the work down into an individual, guided, nature-based interaction with a follow-up discussion could work in some instances.
If equipment for your field labs is scarce or inaccessible, you may also be able to do a “lending library” with a communal pickup and drop off point so that equipment can be checked out by participants and also sanitized as necessary upon return.
I can’t wait to hear other’s thoughts on this! I have been curious about digital interactive communities!
March 17, 2020 at 2:12 pm #50412LJ BoydParticipant
I just wanted to second Staci, in that online labs can be a great tool! Some of my college science courses had this format, and while I prefer in-class settings, it was a helpful option.
I agree with you that being outdoors helps alleviate stress, which is something we can all use some help with right now. Even if you are not stressed out yourself, it is hard not to feel the pressure of the stress that’s happening all around us. People are heading outdoors as an outlet! Despite the hugely populated trails, the park I work at is still seeing people coming out to get their nature fix.
That being said, online formats can also be offered to allow individuals who are hesitant to be around crowds. Would you be able to allow students to remotely monitor your wildlife cams? Or set times for individuals to go into the field themselves and check the cams, sending in their findings afterwards?
As far as your outdoor field labs, would you be able to postpone them? Or break them up into even smaller groups, offering both an online option and a small group outside option?
As Staci said, this is a tough one. I believe flexibility will be an important strength for all of us during these times that are literally changing by every passing hour.
Good luck! I would be interested in seeing how your program goes.
PS. I checked out your website, very interesting. I did not know it existed and will be looking at it some more!
March 17, 2020 at 2:23 pm #50413Ellen BashorModerator
Hey everyone, I’m in a really weird position–I saw what Staci and LJ said and I’m wondering if you have any advice for my unique predicament?
In Spring I teach an undergraduate EE Methods class where the entire class is them designing field trips for our local public school 5th graders on Tuesdays and implementing the field trips with the 5th graders on Thursdays. It’s a fast-paced, 100% hands-on, place-based, watershed & riparian area focused — Basically a practicum course as we only do a tiny bit of theory and methods the first few weeks and then it’s programming from there on out, since these are all upperclassman EE students.
Our district is closed for two weeks and our college has moved entirely online for the rest of the semester. It doesn’t make sense for me to host online classes because they’re not covering new content in this class, it’s more a pedagogical competency demonstration course. My only ideas is that the students can (on their own time) keep visiting the local sites, writing lesson plans about them, and sending videos of themselves teaching the lessons in the field to the 5th grade teachers to send home to the 5th graders–then the 5th graders could do the assignments at home and send their responses back?
It seems a little contrived, but maybe there’s a program to make this easy? Maybe you have some other ideas for how we could help give the undergraduate that practicum experience & still deliver programming to the 5th graders at a distance?
I’m a bit daunted and look forward to hearing your thoughts!
July 12, 2020 at 10:16 am #50418Joshua SkattumParticipant
My name is Josh, I am a Zookeeper at Reid Park Zoo and an Arizona Master Naturalist!
Some coworkers and I are also revamping another non-profit chapter here in Tucson, we’re the Tucson Chapter of AAZK (American Association of Zookeepers)! We are in the learning process of compiling some content for social media. We are hoping to help promote connecting with wildlife and wild places at home. I am at the moment a little disconnected from work since I’ll be working from home for about a week and so I am still learning what Reid Park Zoo will be doing to connect audiences with wildlife and our facility’s conservation messaging.
I have however observed zoos setting up fb events and events on their website for families at home to rely on as a resource of educational entertainment! They’re also including activities to be paired with these virtual sessions. I’ll use Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens as an example!
I’m interested in observing and learning from other perspectives as nonprofits and organizations transition in using an online forum! So far this is my observation on what some Zoo’s and Aquariums are doing since many of our facilities are closed and have cancelled upcoming programs and events.
July 12, 2020 at 10:16 am #50540Jody McInerneyParticipant
I have done some volunteer watershed monitoring and looked into ways to use this to have K-12 students learn about freshwater ecosystems. One of the programs I came across that might meet your need is the “WikiWatershed Toolkit” developed by the Stroud Water research center (). One of the resources is an app called “Model My Watershed” in which lets students use a mapping program to navigate to a watershed they choose and ask questions/investigate problems. There is a companion curriculum developed with NSF funding called “Teaching Environmental Sustainability With Model My Watershed (TES-MMW)”. In watching their video on the curriculum here, it seems to me this might be something your teachers could use to build online activities for students that incorporate them using their cell phone to collect data in their own area. I look forward to hearing whether this might work for you.
July 12, 2020 at 10:17 am #50539Jody McInerneyParticipant
I have done some volunteer watershed monitoring and have done a bit of research on how to implement this with students. One of the programs I thought was really neat for middle school students is the Stroud Water Research Center “WikiWatershed Toolkit” (https://wikiwatershed.org/). They have developed an app called “Model My Watershed” in which students can navigate to a water shed of their choosing and ask questions/investigate problems. They developed a companion curriculum for the app with a NSF grant called “Teaching Environmental Sustainability With Model My Watershed (TES-MMW)”. In watching their video explaining the curriculum here, it looked to me like something your teachers could use to develop online activities where students explored their local watershed using the app and other resources on the website. Would love to hear if you think this might be similar to what you are looking for.
February 24, 2021 at 7:41 am #54260Toni McGinnParticipant
It has been hard moving to an online platform. Our teachers try and take videos of online labs and outdoor field trips. I will be looking more into all of the websites posted here to help also. Thanks for the ideas!
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