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Birds of a Feather Flock Together for Remote Ornithology Field Trips


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By Jennifer Greenberg, Executive Administrative Support Specialist

Becoming resilient during a transition to remote instruction requires improvisation in the classroom. It emphasizes a level of creativity, collaboration and critical thinking skills that allows both instructor and students to fully assimilate to a new platform of learning. It’s important, however, to still acknowledge the fundamental concepts being taught in the classroom.

For Associate Professor Heather Bateman, from the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and Global Institute of Sustainability, taking a collaborative and agile approach with her Applied Ornithology class was easier than anticipated. When Bateman’s class first transitioned to online instruction, she was excited to see her students quickly embracing remote learning tools. “Students were more engaged by using the chat feature,” she said. Like a duck to water, they were able to more smoothly adjust to their new learning environment.

Students were also creative when it came to the challenge of figuring out how to transition their scheduled birding field trips over to a virtual experience. After brainstorming together in class, they came up with many great ideas, Bateman explained. Some included recording bird songs in their neighborhood for the class to identify, looking up the IBA (important bird areas) around them that they could visit (while still following social distancing), and making observations from real-life bird cameras from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 

But what was really successful in engaging the class remotely was the use of a discussion board where students could post pictures and videos of backyard birds they observed around them. Students were given “neighborhood birding” assignments and were asked to post their local sightings. 

“They are having a really fun experience and some students say they have really looked forward to the class during this stressful time,” Bateman said. Graduate student Jennifer Flores, noted how smooth the transition went for the class. “Dr. Bateman is doing a really great job of keeping the student engaged and connected while we transitioned to online learning,” Flores explained. “Everyone has been posting their birding field trips on the discussion board and it is great to see everyone’s bird sightings.”

Overall, members of the Applied Ornithology class came together like birds of a feather to take the birding experience to the next level and create a successful classroom experience, demonstrating another creative solution with Remote Resilience.

As ASU continues to monitor COVID-19, the university has transitioned from in-person teaching and learning to remote options. In this challenging time, however, the collective innovation of ASU faculty and staff has demonstrated remarkable adaptability. As a method of celebrating the good during uncertain developments, the University Technology Office is gathering success stories of “remote resilience” from the ASU community. The situation globally and across the country is changing daily, but we also plan to share these stories to keep pace.

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