A Public Library of Science (PLoS) One article describes challenging birds in the boxes shown above. Titled “Flexibility in Problem Solving and Tool Use of Kea and New Caledonian Crows in a Multi Access Box Paradigm,” the article is an example of the excellence of science outside of the garden walls of online journals that cling to the paywalled, print past.
PLoS One “is an interactive open-access journal for the communication of all peer-reviewed scientific and medical research.” Articles like the one on the parrots and crows are both excellent sources for the knowledge conveyed, and provide outstanding models for students of scientific investigation and writing. The abstract for the article featured in this post begins:
Parrots and corvids show outstanding innovative and flexible behaviour. In particular, kea and New Caledonian crows are often singled out as being exceptionally sophisticated in physical cognition, so that comparing them in this respect is particularly interesting. However, comparing cognitive mechanisms among species requires consideration of non-cognitive behavioural propensities and morphological characteristics evolved from different ancestry and adapted to fit different ecological niches. . . .
The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is an unprecedented global partnership between the scientific community and the general public. Our goal is to make freely available to anyone knowledge about all the world’s organisms. Anybody can register as an EOL member and add text, images, videos, comments or tags to EOL pages. Expert curators ensure quality of the core collection by authenticating materials submitted by diverse projects and individual contributors. Together we can make EOL the best, most comprehensive source for biodiversity information . . . .
Presenting subject matter to learn online inside of a curriculum or one of its courses causes extra steps for learners and teachers go through to find that subject matter. The illustration* above of the network structure of the internet shows why this is true.
For example, in the network illustration above, the Frog Animal Bytes page from the San Diego Zoo could be the 4-dot webpage, with the green dot representing the upper left frog photo. Fortunately, in this case the excellent Animal Bytes pages each have their own urls, and can readily be found through searching online.
Because the Animal Bytes frog and Toad page is an independent url, it can be networked into curricula, independent study, science work and all sorts of subjects: jungles studies, flycatchers, comparative amphibians, and power jumpers, to name a few.
But when curriculum makers and aggregators make their users drill down into through curriculum to lecture to chapter before getting to the meat webpages of the subject matter, the benefits of open source and open content are pretty well lost. Putting curriculum materials online without making their knowledge assets findable on their own degrades the quality of learning. After all, can we suppose that curriculum makers will create a better frog page than the San Diego Zoo has? Yet if you look around at online curricula you will find that often (most often?) the folks who make the curricula do not connect out to the excellent resources like Animal Bytes. That needs to change.
This 8-minute video on iridescence in squid contains nuggets of insight into several scientific topics: cells, visible spectrum, animal behavior, and more. As you watch the sketches, you listen in as two biologists, Sophia Tintori and Alison Sweeney, discuss how and why squid use iridescence.
In my last post I wrote that incoming content from the internet is key to education. This video from CreatureCast.org is a way to let a shining squid into the studies at a school or on an individual student’s mobile device — offering interesting and enlightening knowledge.
My GoldenSwamp blog is broadening its scope today. Since I established it, way back in April 2004, I have used GoldenSwamp to write about the emerging education online — and I will continue to do that. But I will also write about other emerging network subjects, including politics, media, mobile computers, games, and the network science that explains much of what is happening in our creatively complex world.
I will also post now and then about things that come along just begging to be written about. The cute owl chick featured today at ZooBorns is a sample of that. A painting teacher I had years ago, Edgar A. Whitney, posed something he could not solve. What, Ed would say, makes something cute is a mystery.
This wonderful video from the first hour of a newborn baby elephant’s life illustrates that nurture and gentle care are absolutely fundamental for youngsters to develop. Because the GoldenSwamp is a blog about learning knowledge takes nothing away from my support for the nurturing side of education. Enjoy this video and acquire some knowledge about nurture from Mama elephant!
Vampire walking from Carl Zimmer on Vimeo.
Carl Zimmer’s new Discover article about How To Be a Bat [Life in Motion] includes six videos of bats in action. It is time to get over idea that learning something is boring. Such foolishness is so very 20th century! To “fix” education and catch it up with the other sectors of our time we need to put the cascade of excellent knowledge online — like the walking vampires you will see in the video above — into the handschooling now possible with mobile phones.
Seen for the first time in this video, grizzly bears show fancy footwork as they try to kick dead salmon within reach, without getting their ears wet. Here is a lively bit of direct input from working scientists that would make classroom studies more bearable.
Today I experienced a new kind of connecting of study subjects on the internet. I have been following the Public Library of Science (PLOS) on Twitter. This tweet showed up on my Twitter page:
The article the tweet points to is about Number-Based Visual Generalisation in the Honeybee. The bees get a sugar solution reward for learning to differentiate from choices like these (Fig. S1 in the article):
So think about what is happening. The connection between the potential learner and the source is made by a tweet. New science published by the PLOS goes in a new, individualized, beeline directly to the student. Sweet.
ZooBorns.com is simply the best structure I have seen for delivering knowledge for learning, so I have posted its widget here as an invitation to grab it for your own blog or webpage. (I have put the widget in GoldenSwamp.com’s sidebar to enjoy and share and learn a little bit each time I click it about another kind of animal.)
These are some the qualities that make it excellent as online learning content:
It is compelling. The cute pictures of baby animals engage visitors.
The subjects are single node topics, like baboon, kangaroo, and hippo. This makes them ideally optimized for search engines. You don’t lose the baboon you may want to know about among monkeys and gorillas.
The single subject nodes are also easy to link into patterns with related nodes and/or to plug into teaching structures like curricula, lesson plans, and textbooks.
Explanatory comment by experts for the featured animal is included, supplying high quality knowledge to learn while one is captivated by a cute baby picture.
The content has hyperlinks to related material to learn.
The ZooBorns.com format is set up to look terrific on mobile phone browsers.
Had to highlight this one shot out of the group. This is THE moment! Nose-to-nose greeting, no stress. Even a little cheetah lick to a puppy’s nose. Then it turned to play immediately in Tommy T and Pow Wow’s world. Success!
Cheetah Days is a blog that is following three little cheetahs as they grow up under the knowledgeable affection of a team of zoo scientists and keepers. The meeting of the cheetah Tommy T and puppy Pow Wow was featured today on ZooBorns.com where online visitors are treated to pictures of babies of many species born in zoos around the world. Along with the pictures is a great deal of animal science and conservation information provided by the experts in animals who manage the zoos and write the blogs.
ZooBorns.com is not only enjoyable. It informs in ways that show us the immature species of 21st century pedagogy from which we can expect growth and flourishing in months ahead. When a baby picture captures a visitor’s interest, Zoo Borns provides basics about the baby in the image and clicks to a lot more information. Like this sea lion pup at the Longleat Safari Park, youngsters — characteristically eager to learn — sit up and pay attention.
ZooBorns.com comes through loud and clear, BTW, on my iPhone browser. Let’s hear some barks for smartphone learning.