Eagle Hill Masthead

Call for proposals - Online taxonomy-only classes

The Eagle Hill Institute has been offering in-person Field Ecology Seminars on the coast of eastern Maine since 1987. They are taught by regional, national, and international experts. Most include a strong focus on taxonomy. Among them have been ones that have focused down to the level of single genera and Families.

The Institute is intrigued by, and is open to proposals for, a new parallel annual series of interactive online seminars, especially ones with a strong focus on advanced topics in taxonomy. We see these seminars as a natural outgrowth of our annual in-person Field Ecology Seminars.

While proposals for online taxonomy-only seminars will vary considerably in suggesting how they can be taught, a clear goal is to have them be as interactive as possible. The following is a set of considerations, some or all of which may be appropriate for a given seminar, i.e., please feel free to suggest a format that can work for you. For example, these seminars can ...

• Option 1 ... be structured mostly around identifications of specimens by way of group discussions of sets of replicate specimens that have been sent to each participant.
• Option 2 ... be structured mostly around independent studies of specimens each participant sends to the instructor (mostly on a one-on-one and group basis, with lectures).
• Option 3 ... be structured mostly around demonstrations of specimen handling and microscope techniques, with live-streamed presentations and recorded videos, e.g., to show what one can be expected to see without and with magnification.
• Option 4 ... be structured around discussions and demonstrations of advanced analytical techniques that can be used for definitive identifications.
• Option 5 ... be structured around discussions of natural habitats and the diverse assemblages of species associated with them.
• Option 6 ... be structured to provide a broad overview of the biology and natural history of a group of organisms in a way that prepares participants for followup online taxonomy-only seminars ... or ... our in-person Field Ecology Seminars.

The overall online teaching program can ...

• be offered as a PowerPoint presentation that offers lectures in tandem with showing photographs, videos, and/or illustrations.
• offer multiple 2- or 3-hour classes, either during daytime hours over consecutive weekends ... or during evenings all during a single week. Both options make it possible for participants to sign up without having to take time away from work or vacations.
• have a lecture each day, with the assumption that all participants will complete advance readings prior to each class and that they will be discussed during the lectures.
• choose to require a hand lens and/or recommend/require the use of a dissecting and/or compound microscope. These would mostly be used by participants in between classes.
• give participants the option to use a camera attachment to photograph something they would like to have explained in between classes, e.g., by way of a macro lens attachment for a smart phone ($40).
• allow participants to ask questions during each "live" class and to send in questions in between classes.
• be recorded and posted on the class website. Those missing a class would be able to catch up before the next one.
• be offered throughout the year, as appropriate, e.g., specimens for some seminars can be collected and preserved "in-season", thus allowing the seminar to be taught at a later time.

Regional biomes ... While our focus at this time is on New England and northeastern North America, we may consider proposals focused on other regional biomes.

We are keenly interested in collaborating with specialists who have a clear sense of how online taxonomy-only classes can be developed as high-level and powerful teaching tools that have a unique role to play in furtheringing interests in the natural history sciences.

We welcome questions and comments.

If you are interested in considering offering a seminar, we ask that you first send us a rough outline of what you are thinking (no more than 3,000 characters, including spaces).

Phone: 207-546-2821, extension 4

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