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Listed below is a description of the Reviving Traditional Forestry with HP Technology grant project that was funded by the 2008 HP Technology for Teaching Grant Initiative. To review the project description, you may scroll through the webpage or click on one of the section headers listed below to go directly to that section.
Reviving Traditional Forestry with HP TechnologyExecutive Summary
Forests provide various supporting, provisioning, regulating, and cultural services, such as flood mitigation, temperature regulation, clean water and air, and aesthetic and recreational pleasures, that are essential to human well-being. However, many forests in the U.S. and around the world are being seriously threatened by ownership fragmentation, urbanization, and invasive exotic pathogens, insects, and plants. To address these mounting threats and sustain our forest systems, competent forestry graduates, who are able to address complex economic, ecological, and social issues involving forest resources, are greatly needed. Forestry, as an over 100 year traditional discipline, is therefore challenged to educate students with 21st century technology and sciences to solve these new problems.
This project will provide forestry undergraduate students with three redesigned courses that maximize the use of mobile technology so students can learn forestry concepts in both the field and classroom. Students will benefit from this project by using mobile technology with simulation software to visualize spatial and temporal aspects of a forest landscape while in the forest. Students will travel to different locations throughout the state and use the mobile technology to effectively communicate and demonstrate real-world forestry issues to various stakeholders.
Focus on Learning
This project is important to both students and instructors. The mobile technology will enhance the spatial and temporal material an instructor can teach while in the forest. Instructors will use a combination of teaching techniques such as lectures, computer simulations, and fieldwork to enhance student learning. This project will allow instructors to demonstrate forestry concepts in the field using mobile technology with various forestry and geospatial software.
Students will benefit by experiencing multiple teaching techniques and being able to apply concepts directly to the field setting. Students will also benefit by the ability to collect, enter, and analyze spatial data while in the field. This will help students connect the landscape with digital images they produce. Using mobile technology to collect and analyze data in the field helps reduce potential errors created when transferring field data into a computer on campus.
Instructors can enhance student learning of abstract concepts by using mobile technology in the field to show simulations of how the forest will change with different management applications. Since the impact of management decisions has a large time-lag component, students will be able to view the forest as it is today and see an immediate simulation of how the forest is projected to look in the future based on the management techniques applied.
This project is important in that it provides students with technology skills they will need when they graduate. Many students entering forestry programs are not proficient with computers. Using mobile technology in three redesigned courses will likely improve a student’s proficiency and comfort with technology. Students will be able to apply these skills to creating documents, graphs, and maps to effectively communicate forestry issues to many affected stakeholders, including landowners and land managers, policy makers, and the general public.
Goals, Objectives and Outcomes
The goal of this project is to improve student learning of spatial and temporal aspects of forestry through enhanced teaching capability by using mobile technology in the field and in the classroom. Through this project, students will increase proficiency in using technology in the forestry field to communicate real-world spatial and temporal forestry issues to diverse audiences.
Our project has three objectives.
Objective 1. Redesign a geographic information systems (GIS) course to use mobile technology with geospatial software in real-world field examples. This will enhance the instructor’s ability to teach students spatial concepts in forestry and improve student learning of these concepts.
Objective 2. Redesign a silviculture course to use mobile technology with forest inventory and simulation software in the field. This will enhance the instructor’s ability to teach students about temporal concepts in forestry and improve student learning of these concepts.
Objective 3. Redesign a senior-level capstone course to use mobile technology with various spatial, inventory, and simulation software in the field. This will improve student’s ability to apply forestry concepts to real-world applications and use technology to communicate these concepts to stakeholders.
To measure the effectiveness of Objectives One and Two, three exercises will be conducted in the GIS course and three in the silviculture course. Written surveys will be conducted at the end of each course. GIS course exercises will consist of three real-world spatial projects. Silviculture course exercises will consist of three temporal simulation labs.
For Exercise One, the instructor and students will use the tablet PCs only in the classroom. For Exercise Two, the instructor and students will use the tablet PCs in the field and classroom. For Exercise Three, students may choose to use the tablet PC in the classroom or field. At the end of these three exercises, students will be asked how the exercises compared, if using tablet PCs in the field enhanced their learning, and if their proficiency in using technology improved. The instructor will be asked if students seemed more engaged in terms of number and depth of questions during the exercises and how the quality of the three graded exercises compare.
To measure the effectiveness of Objective Three, students will keep a detailed web-journal discussing how the tablet PCs have impacted the creation of the management plan. (The capstone course is a culmination of forestry concepts and consists of one real-world project working with landowners to create a management plan for a forested property.) Students will discuss how mobile technology and on-screen ‘inking’ capability was used in their project. Instructors will compare students using tablet PCs with students from previous years that did not have access to mobile technology. Instructors will compare the length of time spent on different stages of the management plan and overall project quality with that of previous years. The current landowner along with landowners from previous years will be surveyed on how effective students were in using technology to communicate the management plan components.
Summer 2008 – GIS, silviculture, and capstone courses will be redesigned. Project team will meet to develop formal survey instruments for the three courses.
Fall 2008 - Redesigned GIS course taught for the first time.
December 2008 - Assess GIS course. Make necessary modifications for Spring 2009 courses.
Spring 2009 - Redesigned silviculture and capstone courses taught for the first time.
May 2009 – Assess silviculture and capstone courses. Make necessary modifications for Fall 2009 courses.
Fall 2009 – Redesigned GIS course and silviculture course taught for the second time.
December 2009 – Assess GIS and silviculture courses. Discuss any improvements seen after teaching the course a second time.
Spring 2010 – Redesigned capstone course taught for the second time.
Summer 2010 – Analyze results of all three redesigned courses. Discuss and document lessons learned when teaching a course with mobile technology.
GIS in Natural Resources - FOR 599 (Fall 2009, changed to FOR 330). 3 credit-hour. Principles and operations of GIS applied to forestry and natural resource problems.
Silviculture - FOR 350. 4 credit-hour. Study of ecologically based manipulations of forests to achieve desired management objectives.
Integrated Forest Resource Management (Capstone) - FOR 480. 5 credit-hour. Students are presented with a real-life management scenario and work in teams to develop a professional forest management plan for a privately-owned forested property.
The capstone course will be redesigned in terms of the technology proficiency that is expected of the students. Students will receive preliminary instruction on using the tablet PCs and will then use the tablet PCs throughout the semester to complete their project. Students will use the tablet PCs to create their final project and update the landowner on the progress of the project.
First, within the Department of Forestry, instructors involved in this project will conduct departmental seminars at the end of each project year. These seminars will show faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students how mobile technology is used to enhance instruction and improve student learning.
Second, brochures and fliers will be developed and distributed to academic advisors at the University of Kentucky to inform undecided majors about the high-tech opportunities available in forestry.
Third, within the region, students will present their findings from the real-world projects to landowners, industry, government, and other stakeholders.
Fourth, brochures, fliers, and computer demonstrations will be used to show pre-college students the high-tech opportunities available in forestry and natural resource professions. Studies have shown that students select forestry as a major for three reasons: they like to work outdoors; they like the use of high technology; and they want to “make a difference” in the environment.
Finally, project results and impact will be presented at academic and industry conferences, regionally and nationally.
(Click here to view the Year 1 Report)
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