Online Content for Experiential Learning of Tropical Systems


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BIOME 2024 Workshop: “But we don’t teach ecology!”

Author(s): Ann E Russell1, Jithin Vijayan2, Jose Montalva3

1. Iowa State University 2. Nature Conservation Foundation, India 3. East Central University

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OCELOTS modules are open-access case studies in tropical ecology that promote active learning, quantitative skills, and systems thinking. This workshop is the prelude to a Fall FMN for adapting OCELOTS modules for a variety of academic settings.

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 05 Jul 2024 doi:10.25334/NVNW-4A93 - cite this



Workshop Description:

Do you teach an introductory biology course, or a general biology course for non-majors? Is the topic of ecology, especially tropical biology, included in your course? Generally, if ecology is covered at all in introductory courses, ‘biomes’ is the only topic covered. Do you find that students get excited about memorizing information about biomes? We think not! We find that providing an immersive, online experience with case studies based on authentic tropical research not only sparks student interest in biology but prepares them for tackling complex problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and forest restoration — and better yet — strategizing how to overcome these issues.

Participants in the OCELOTS (Online Content for Experiential Learning of Tropical Systems) network have thus far created ~20 open-access modules in tropical biology that are available for use in your courses. How could these engaging tropical modules be incorporated into your teaching? How would you overcome any barriers to using these modules in your courses?

In this workshop, we are bringing together community college and other instructors who would like to adapt these modules for their teaching. Participants in this workshop are encouraged to join our Fall 2024 FMN for adapting OCELOTS modules to the teaching needs of general biology courses. The vision is that participants in the Fall 2024 FMN will also create a QUBES publication that will inform other instructors and provide inspiration and guidance about using the modules. Check out what including tropical ecology in your teaching can do for your students!


Pre-workshop materials:


Synchronous part of the workshop (90 minutes):

  • Introduction for whole group:
    • 10 minutes: Introductions, share what you hope to gain here, and what you bring to it
    • 10 minutes: Demo of adapting a module in Gala
  • Break-out rooms followed by whole-group discussion (10 min in breakout and 10 min in whole group):
    • Round 1: Barriers to implementing the modules
    • Round 2: Brainstorming about solutions for issues
    • Round 3: Selecting a module and ideas about adapting it during the fall FMN
  • Wrap-up discussion (10 min)   


Support was provided by: A grant from the United States National Science Foundation (DBI-RCN-UBE 2120141).

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