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Abstract Detail

Education and Outreach

Montgomery, Benjamin [1].

A Hands-on Approach to Teaching Online/Distance Education Non-Majors Botany Laboratory.

Traditional face-to-face botany laboratories emphasize interactions with living or preserved specimen as well as field experiences, which are difficult to replicate in an online learning environment. Nonetheless, adapting botany curricula for distance-education environments provides opportunities to engage additional students. Additionally, teaching in an online environment encourages incorporation of digital tools, further enriching the curriculum. I have developed an online/distance education non-majors botany survey course that includes a mix of hands-on and digital-botany activities. Topics include anatomy, physiology, diversity, identification, life cycles, reproduction, genetics, evolution, ecology, and biogeography. I distribute Coleus, which students use for cuttings and grafts and to perform apical dominance studies. I distribute living liverworts, mosses and spikemosses to build experimental terrariums and observe key traits. Students study plant chemistry by testing for starch in foods, extracting DNA and separating plant pigments. To learn use of dichotomous keys, students identify physical specimen of woody twigs and digital specimen of gymnosperms, as well as plants they collect. Students explore natural areas and photograph examples of monocots and dicots. A kit-based experiment is used to allow students to investigate patterns of inheritance in three generations of Brassica. The relationships among plants and climate is examined: students measure carbon sequestration and the cooling power of shade trees around their home; they use a citizen-science database to test hypotheses about changes in phenology; and they use online biogeography software to predict changes in plant distributions according to different climate-change scenarios. These exercises variously require students to observe specimen, use botanical vocabulary, create and test hypotheses and share results. Course supplies, including plants, are distributed to students by pick-up or shipping when necessary. Students are assessed using quizzes and journals, but most results are shared on Padlet, an online collaborative tool that allows students to post photographs of experimental results alongside those of classmates. This feature creates community among distributed students and promotes accountability. Students responded positively to most exercises, and those who satisfied lecture requirements completed most or all laboratory activities. They most preferred exercises involving outdoor activities and least preferred digital exercises. Future goals include adding more field-based plant identification using INaturalist, an online social networking plant identification app, to allow students to network with peers, the instructor and the broader botanical community. Additionally, a stronger pre-lab and post-lab structure is needed to identify and correct misconceptions. This model is transferable to other institutions.

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1 - University Of South Carolina Upstate, 800 University Way, Spartanburg, SC, 29306.0, United States

Science education
Distance education
Online education
non-majors botany.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 17, Contributed Papers: Education and Outreach I
Location: 104/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2018
Time: 9:00 AM
Number: 17005
Abstract ID:317
Candidate for Awards:None

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