Back in the early days of the OOI, I was part of a small team of designers and developers who were tasked with building tools to support undergraduate education. Our vision consisted of an OOI Ocean Education Portal that included an integrated, and arguably cutting-edge, suite of tools. This Education Cyberinfrastructure included a Data Visualization Builder, Concept Mapper, Vocabulary Navigator, and a Data Investigation Builder. Together, we had hoped these tools would support faculty as they developed their own lessons and resources to bring OOI data to their classrooms.
Sadly, for a variety of reasons, the education portal is no longer available. But many of the lessons we learned during this effort directly informed our proposal for building the OOI Data Labs community, as well as the design of the Data Explorations that have anchored our work since then. (To learn more about our early work and the transition, you can check out Education and Public Engagement in OOI: Lessons Learned from the Field, by Janice McDonnell et al.)
One of the pieces we were most proud of was the Data Investigation Builder – though, admittedly the name itself, and its acronym DIB, could use some work.
The Investigation Builder was designed to walk faculty through a Backwards Design process as they developed an online activity (i.e. investigation). Each investigation followed a modified Learning Cycle or 5E format, including steps that walked students through the Engage, Explore and Explain phases.
The Exploration step was the heart of the activity. It was designed to present students with multiple pieces of data/evidence, each with its own set of questions. These could include graphs, other images, concept maps, videos or interactive data visualizations, which were our prime motivator for the whole tool. Students would then respond to a larger “challenge question” by interpreting and synthesizing the individual datasets into their final explanation for the activity.
The following image shows an example of the Data Investigation interface, with the Exploration tab highlighted.
While the Data Investigation Builder is no longer online (though perhaps one day it will return in a future project), we recently dug back into our archive and found the prototype investigations we designed as we developed the tool.
We have since rebuilt them on our current Data Labs site, and we are pleased to announce that you can find our prototype EPE Data Investigations online again!
- There are several different activities, including Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction During Storms that is still used at Rutgers as a group lab activity in our Introduction to Oceanography class.
- Two activities, Is Overfishing Creating a Population Bottleneck? and Ocean Acidification, use static images of graphs instead of interactive tools. But they both emphasize the “Jigsaw” nature of these activities.
- Another two activities are very similar to each other. Seasonality in the Ocean and Questioning Ocean Productivity and Temperature use the same datasets in their Exploration. However, the challenge question in the first focuses on the physical dynamics (temperature), while the other asks students to consider how that physical factor might impact biology (i.e. chlorophyll). This demonstrates how activities are often repurposed by faculty depending on their educational goals.
- Finally, in The Spatial Response from Hurricane Sandy, students can explore data from both NDBC weather and CO-OPS water level stations as Superstorm Sandy struck the Mid-Atlantic.
None of these activities are perfect, and unfortunately none of them include OOI data as they predate the OOI’s commissioning in 2015. But hopefully these example lessons and their overall format will inspire future efforts to build tools and interfaces that engage students with data from the ocean.
And if you do find them useful, please feel free to use them!