I suppose for the amount of times I post about the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CNMTL) I should probably work there. Truth be told, on this particular post I do have some interests that might run parallel to what they are doing here.

Rather than try to recreate their text in some witty, new form, I will leave you with their release:

March 11, 2010. The Virtual Forest —a project developed by CCNMTL and earth science and ecology faculty partners to enrich research, education, and community activities at Black Rock Forest —now offers students a virtual learning experience designed to enhance their understanding of paleoecology, or the study of ancient organisms and their environment.

Students in the environmental science department at Barnard are using this new online training module to improve their knowledge of two key concepts in paleoecology: pollen identification and sediment sampling. The Pollen Identification activity was designed to introduce students to the various structures and names of pollen. Students are provided digital images of 15 pollen specimens taken from Sutherland Pond in Black Rock Forest and learn how to identify common pollen types and characteristics using an interactive scientific key. The Sediment Sampling activity allows students to view data from select samples of sediment from the Sutherland Pond and analyze various types of pollen prevalent in the samples using an interactive visualization tool.

This new training module was developed in partnership with Dr. Terryanne Maenza-Gmelch for her Barnard course, Land Use Dynamics, and is the fourth module added to the Virtual Forest project. “As a teaching and learning strategy, this module provides key interactive and inquiry-based learning opportunities for students, facilitating synthesis of key palynological concepts and skills within the time frame of a traditional lecture based undergraduate course,” wrote Dr. Maenza-Gmelch. CCNMTL will evaluate student use of the module following the completion of the course and determine how the tool might be expanded. Learn more about the Virtual Forest and view the new training module.

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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