GIORNATA DELLA BIODIVERSITA' / DAN BIODIVERZITETE

Schools

Schools, i.e. teachers and students, from elementary schools to universities, are the main target of SiiT. Many of the identification guides produced by the project will be tailored to the needs of individual schools and teachers, and to their educational projects. Since SiiT is active in an area including Italy and Slovenia, we are mainly addressing schools in Italian and Slovenian. In this English page we just give a brief summary of our activities for an international audience.

A main aim of the project is to develop and adapt identification tools according to the needs of users The development is being realised by discovering the requirements of the different target groups of the project. How does it work? In the first phase of the project, a set of existing identification tools is presented to potential users (teachers). After each presentation, teachers are asked to report on their impressions of the tools - strengths and weaknesses - and to suggest possible pedagogical scenarios for their use. In accordance with teachers' responses, first requirements for the further development of the tools are defined. The tools - with some improvements already implemented according to the first results of the evaluation process - are being tested under real teaching circumstances, and teachers give detailed feedback on the tools and their use at school, university or in other pedagogical organisations such as botanical gardens and museums. The feedback is again used for the reengineering of the identification tools. This process of testing, feedback and reengineering will continue during the life time of the project.

In addition, the tools of SiiT will be developed according to general pedagogical aims, requirements and usability aspects that match with the demands of the target groups. Again, these requirements are being investigated. In this case, the process is about discovering what the tool is and learning what the requirements are by exploration, i.e. by using and playing with the tools and exploring their strengths and weaknesses and looking for possible improvements and new developments.

Which pedagogical approach does SiiT support?

The SiiT products and keys are not based on any inherent pedagogical model. In the first instance they represent information, consultation and identification tools that can be integrated in every possible teaching activity. But if we look closer at the concepts of identification we quickly come to the conclusion that they can best support open and active learning activities. The concept of 'active learning' encompasses ideas about knowledge acquisition (e.g. 'constructivism') and the importance of the social dimension (e.g. 'collaborative learning'). In addition, problem-based learning approaches with quite strong links to active learning can be extremely well adopted for teaching biodiversity aided by identification keys.

Why is the identification of organisms a unique experience to promote active, problem-based learning, and in some cases collaborative learning?

Identification is a dynamic, explorative activity. Students are encouraged to discover principles for themselves and so become less passive as learners. Identification of organisms helps to provide the learning environments that support open, active and, in many cases, collaborative learning approaches. Groups of students can plan a particular identification approach, work together on the identification of certain individual specimens, discuss and revise assumptions and results, and present their results to others.

Why is the identification of organisms in the field so important from a pedagogical point of view?


The identification of organisms presents a unique set of visual learning, visual thinking and visual communication requirements. Being able to utilise their knowledge of images for thinking and communicating is extremely important for school children. Identification allows students to practice necessary visual skills and explore visual approaches to problem solving within the identification of organisms knowledge domain. Visual learning can be defined as 'the acquisition and construction of knowledge as a result of interaction with visual phenomena'.

Primary schools

In the scope of primary schools, the tools of SiiT have to cope with demanding pedagogy and usability related requirements. The tools are being designed for supporting general pedagogical aims, not just for identification of species. The more general aims include:

Improvement of cognition
Generation of problem solving abilities
Development of team working abilities
Improvement of knowledge of biodiversity
Improvement of social skills
Reinforcement of self-esteem, activation of emotion
Satisfying the high level of curiosity of children


The keys of SiiT dedicated to primary school children can be characterised as follows:

They have a small scale, i.e. they include a small set of species to identify.
No technical terms, i.e. the language and information provided must respect the age of the children and avoid excessive demands.
As many pictures as possible.

From a usability point of view, the tools should be as easy as possible to use, respecting the needs of young children (e.g. single choice menus). Navigation, look and feel need to be appealing for this age group. Positive feedback needs to be given on different actions (and also on errors). Most tools have already implemented a help function.

Secondary Schools

For the target group of secondary school children, the general pedagogical requirements are similar to those of primary school children, but the pedagogical aims are different.

The acquisition of knowledge in the biodiversity domain moves into the foreground. The identification process receives greater focus, knowledge of identification processes and procedures as well as of different aspects such as taxonomy of the species, bio-indication, socialisation, habitats, etc. become increasingly important in the teaching process.

Therefore tools which are appropriate for secondary schools deliver more detailed and complex information and support children to explore it.

Usability aspects equally need to address the needs of the target group. Look and feel, navigation, feedback, language, etc. have to meet the needs and taste of teenagers. Motivation is also an extremely important aspect; motivating young teenagers to become involved in activities on identification of organisms is especially difficult.

Electronic-based identification tools are a way to promote motivation among the generation of digital natives.

Universities

In the context of university seminars and research work, identification tools have more and more to fulfill the needs of these scientific communities.

The number of species and amount of additional information in the databases of the tools need to be exhaustive for a defined area or category. A complex, accurate and technical identification process, e.g. uses of multiple criteria tools and adoption of technical language, is expected in the context of universities.

In a university context, tools are used more for identification than for supporting pedagogical activities. In this context, our tools are being developed for promoting effectiveness and quality in teaching, improving knowledge of identification processes and techniques, improving knowledge of taxonomy, promoting interest in biodiversity, supporting field work by electronic identification tools for mobile devices and promoting knowledge transfer within the biology communities.

General usability principles for human/computer interaction are being adopted for the development of the tools at the university level.


Pedagogical scenarios

In the scope of the project, a process of trying out customised identification keys that are adapted to the needs of different educational levels and settings is being developed and tested. Although starting from a position of some experience of using identification tools in the educational context, the SiiT project recognises that educational specialists are the best source for creativity in terms of use of such tools.

http://www.keytonature.eu/handbook/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Partner / Projektni partnerji

Università di Trieste, Dip. di Scienze della Vita (Lead Partner), Prirodoslovni Muzej Slovenije, Ljubljana, Univerza na Primorskem -Università del Litorale  Koper/Capodistria, Università di Padova, Dip. di Biologia, Zavod Republike Slovenije za šolstvo Ljubljana, Comune di San Dorligo della Valle - Občina Dolina, Consorzio del Parco Regionale del Delta del Po Emilia Romagna, Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione dell’Ambiente del Friuli Venezia Giulia (ARPA - FVG), Gruppo di Azione Locale Venezia Orientale (GAL Venezia Orientale - VEGAL), Triglavski Narodni Park, Univerza v Novi Gorici

 

Progetto Strumenti interattivi per l’identificazione della biodiversità: un progetto educativo in un’area transfrontaliera (SiiT): finanziato nell’ambito del Programma per la Cooperazione Transfrontaliera Italia-Slovenia 2007-2013, dal Fondo europeo di sviluppo regionale e dai fondi nazionali.

Projekt Interaktivna določevalna orodja za šole (SIIT): spoznavanje biotske pestrosti na čezmejnem območju sofinancirana v okviru Programa čezmejnega sodelovanja Slovenija-Italija 2007-2013 iz sredstev Evropskega sklada za regionalni razvoj in nacionalnih sredstev.



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