At the start of term a group of five academics representing five different academic schools in three faculties offered six Teaching and Learning Development Fund student placements for the development and testing of the Whiteknights Biodiversity App. Yesterday the team met up to discuss implementation of the first draft App and to agree a programme of work for the next few weeks.
This student-led project will build an app for recording biodiversity data on Whiteknights campus to facilitate gathering of long-term data sets using a standardised protocol. This will provide a database for students and staff to monitor long-term changes in the local environment that will develop over time and support other projects at the University such as Whiteknights Phenology. The app will be used to support teaching as a part of the curriculum in several modules in Biological and Environmental Science courses. The app development process will be shared on the ‘Enhancing Fieldwork Learning’ on-line resource site which reaches a large network of fieldwork practitioners.
What will the app do?
We hope it will allow recording of the following:
- Common name
- Scientific name
- Field notes/ecology
- Who made the record
- Which project is it linked to (if any)
- Other notes
These data will then be fed through to a database that can be mined to generate maps, detect phenological patterns and so forth.
How will we test and evaluate it?
The project will be evaluated by both students and staff as an iterative process. Surveys and focus group meetings will be used to gather feedback on whether the process of app development and student research could be improved. We will also run a rigorous evaluation process to test that the final app is fit for purpose.
Progress and who’s who
So far our student biologist champions have interviewed a range of staff in their schools to establish teaching needs, the systems engineering students have developed a first draft of the app and our typography student has designed a range of possible logos and accompanying names for the app. Over the next few weeks, each of them will be writing a short report for this blog on their progress and challenges.
The student champions (Liz White, Liam Basford, Mark Wells, Stephen Birch, Jonathan Tanner, Phillippa Oppenheimer) will be encouraged to write up their experiences in Bioscience Horizons: the International Journal of Student Research and to disseminate their experiences through workshops and meetings in addition to their regular progress blogs.