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Guest blog: Judith Lock on students’ species identification videos

Surprised to see grasshoppers in the featured image on Dr M’s renown botanical site?

Dr M is nothing if not inclusive, but grasshoppers love Poaceae (just like Dr M!) and are pretty much half grass whichever way you look at them (GRASS-hopper – get it?!)  😉 so it’s all pretty botanical!

Anyway, today Dr M begins an occasional series of guest blogs where he invites fellow biologists to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences at  drmgoeswild.com.

Here Judith Lock writes about how she uses video in her Undergraduate teaching in biological sciences at the University of Southampton:

Bella vista resized

Southampton undergraduates enjoy their field course in Spain!

Hello, I’m Dr Judith Lock, a teaching fellow in the Centre for Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.

I met Dr M at the Enhancing Fieldwork Learning (EFL) showcase event in September. This was the third of these events that I have attended and I have found all three events very inspirational.

At the event in 2013 Chris Thomson, a JISC Netskills trainer, showed us all how easy it is to make a short video on a smart phone or tablet using an app called Splice. I decided to use this format on our first year field trip to Spain in April.

Traditionally we have asked students to pick a family of plant or invertebrate and make a poster about it. The posters were very lo-tech, made using paper table cloths, coloured paper and coloured marker pens.

The ubiquity of smart phones provides the opportunity for film making in the field, allowing other features, such as the habitat to be recorded.

This is something that is very difficult to do using paper and pens (most biologists are not very good artists!) and allows students to think about the technology in their pocket as an educational tool.

Another obvious benefit is that copies of these short films are now available from the University of Southampton Centre for Biological Sciences YouTube channel.

This provides a growing bank of films that can be used for students to learn about the families studied on the field course. It also shows potential students what they can expect from the field course.

We gave the students the opportunity to make films about the methodology used for their short research projects, something that video very much lends itself to. Again, several student groups took advantage of this opportunity.

My undergraduates greatly enjoyed making short films and it is definitely something that I will continue to offer as an opportunity for students on future field courses.

Here is one example of my student videos…

Dr M says: Thanks Judith for trail-blazing video in Undergraduate teaching and learning. Video is going to be a much more important part of T&L in the future, he can feel it in his bones!

Dr M loves the Grasshopper video – one biologist there at least is a very good artist! And someone did a great job putting the video together keeping it both educational and interesting!

Dr M must encourage his students to tackle some plant families using video in original and entertaining ways…



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