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Teaching and Learning Ecological Modeling over the Web: a Collaborative Approach

Alexey Voinov, IEE UMCES

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Abstract

A framework for web-based collaborative teaching has been created. This framework is implemented as an ecological modeling course (http://iee.umces.edu/AV/Simmod.html), but should be flexible enough to apply to other disciplines. I have developed a series of tools to facilitate interactive communication between students and instructors, and among students taking the course. The course content consists of reading materials that describe the theory of systems analysis and modeling, guidelines on how models can be built, and numerous examples and illustrations. The interactive part includes exercises that can be discussed with and evaluated by the instructor, and provides a means to mimic class discussions. To what extent this approach can replace conventional in-class tutoring has yet to be tested, but the preliminary applications show great promise. I offer this course format as a framework and a prototype for collaborative "open-source" approaches to education, in which the web provides the means to communicate knowledge and skills asynchronously between geographically dispersed educators and students.

Key words

collaborative teaching, ecological modeling, interactivity, open source, web education
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087