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Learning to See, Seeing to Learning: A socio-technical system to support volunteer water quality biomonitoring

Learning to See, Seeing to Learn is a web-based project (macroinvertebrates.org) focused on training citizen scientists to identify aquatic macroinvertebrates for water quality monitoring projects. This open educational resource will be a powerful supplement to more-traditional identification keys used by volunteers. Many volunteer biomonitoring groups lack access to physical specimens and other high quality reference materials. Our tool features zoomable, high-resolution images for the 150 most commonly found taxa in the Eastern United States. Diagnostic characters for 50 selected taxa will have added multimedia annotations at the order, family, and genus level. These explorable images can be dynamically manipulated by the user to see and learn these important characters in context. Detailed descriptions of the diagnostic characters, life history, food preferences, ecological information, pollution tolerance values, and terminology supports will be provided to aid identification for each taxon. Using design-based learning research and evaluation approaches, we will examine expert and learner practices through cognitive task analysis methods, and explore affordances of an innovative online field guide and collection of high-resolution aquatic macroinvertebrates images to facilitate science learning and engagement in taxonomic identification activities. This research study will help guide engagement and build capacity with scientists, citizen scientists, and informal science education (ISE) professionals to utilize new media technologies to facilitate public-science interactions and catalyze participatory kinds of science learning and research experiences with public audiences.

Project URL: macroinvertebrates.org

Geographic Scope: Eastern United States

Status: Active

Recruiting Volunteers:

Participation Tasks: Classification or tagging, Identification, Observation, Photography,

Start Date: 2016-02-22

Project Contact: martil@cmu.edu

Federal Government Sponsor:

NSF logo

Other Federal Government Sponsor:

Name of Nonfederal Sponsors:

Project Topic: Animals, Biology, Ecology and environment, Education, Nature and outdoors, Pollinators/insects,

Intended Outcomes: Programmatic, Research development, Civic and community, Individual learning, Conservation,