As I mentioned in an earlier post this week, the University of Northampton is stopping all face-to-face teaching from Friday. Other UK universities have already done that, more will surely follow. Luckily we are close to the end of term and I only have a few teaching session left to deliver for my Biodiversity & Conservation class. For one of these I’ve dusted off an old “virtual seminar” that I put together a few years ago when I had to miss another class (I think I was ill). If anyone is in need of a teaching resource like this, you are most welcome to steal it. It’s infinitely adaptable. The range of digital resources can be changed to reflect different countries and languages. Also, I’ve deliberately kept it broad in scope, but you could tailor it in multiple ways.
It could also be integrated into the two other taxonomy and biodiversity teaching sessions I’ve discussed in the past:
An Assessed Plant Taxonomy Questionnaire – https://jeffollerton.wordpress.com/2016/11/22/engaging-students-with-the-fundamentals-of-biodiversity-2-an-assessed-plant-taxonomy-questionnaire/
Again, feel free to steal these if they are useful
Here’s the text I send to students:
Digital resources for biodiversity: a virtual seminar
One of the great advances in understanding how biodiversity is distributed in time and space, and how it is changing, is the huge amount of digital resources (both raw data and data visualisation) that are available via the internet at no cost. In this virtual seminar you will explore just a fraction of these resources; bear in mind that many more are available.
First of all, read this blog post about the definition of “biodiversity” and what it really means:
[Note: if that post isn’t suitable, you could point them to another definition, e.g. the Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity.]
Next, take a look at each of the digital resources for biodiversity listed below. Spend some time exploring each website and the information that is available. As you are doing so, consider this: do these digital resources provide data and information that corresponds with all aspects of biodiversity, as defined in that blog post and by your own understanding of the term? If not, what’s missing, what else is required? Do a web search and see if you can find resources to fill any gaps yourself. [Note: at this point you could ask more specific questions about these resources and their usefulness for particular tasks or objectives, or set up a chat room in a VLE or similar to discuss issues raised].
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Data Explorer
Interaction Web Database
National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas
Database of Insects and their Food Plants
Natural History Museum Data Portal
British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden Birdwatch
British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Bird Trends
Global Biotic Interactions (GloBI)
Global Invasive Species Database