Field Botany Changed the World

Two pretty telling student quotes from the video1 above.

“I was real excited that our blog is now an example for anyone. If you want to look up high bush clover you can look on one of our blogs and find our pictures.”

“I think that knowing that the blog and the material would be accessible to anyone made the idea of putting it out there made the idea more exciting in some way but also I put more thought into it for that reason.”

The Field Botany blog ended up with 3,675 posts from 27 students. That’s some pretty serious output.

That content will remain accessible and the site can evolve2 with each iteration of the course.

Two rather simple questions stay in my head lately.

  • How can we have students do more than stairmaster work? – I’ve never cared for burning calories just to burn calories. I’d rather go somewhere. Even running in a circle is better than running in place. I can’t stop thinking about how much time and energy go into things that neither the student nor the teacher want.
  • Since we can aggregate and archive student work, how does that change what we ask students to do?
    Student work can be valuable. It can add value in the context of other student work. It can be a resource for other students. It can help set norms, build community, provide a really important window on programs . . . there are so many things this simple possibility might allow if we reconsider what we have students do.

1 That video is Molly’s great work.

2 I need to do so many things to make it better.

3 thoughts on “Field Botany Changed the World

  1. It’s a brilliant site concept and yes, Molly is an video artist. Field Botany is great answer to what David Wiley calls the “disposable assignment”

    These are assignments that students complain about doing and faculty complain about grading. They’re assignments that add no value to the world – after a student spends three hours creating it, a teacher spends 30 minutes grading it, and then the student throws it away. Not only do these assignments add no value to the world, they actually suck value out of the world. Talk about an incredible waste of time and brain power (an a potentially huge source of cognitive surplus)!

    What if we changed these “disposable assignments” into activities which actually added value to the world? Then students and faculty might feel different about the time and effort they invested in them. I have seen time and again that they do feel different about the efforts they make under these circumstances.

Comments are closed.