Today’s Nature Walk Tour was, by far, the most engaging and exciting learning moment in which I’ve participated since coming to Yale a year ago. What an outstanding demonstration of the seamless and responsible integration of technology with learning, and of teaching that is focused on student-driven, transcompetent, and holistic pedagogy.
The tour is part of an ongoing project for Marta Wells’s course Evolution, Functional Traits, and the Tree of Life. The project “engage[s] students and the community while promoting awareness of Yale’s natural resources. We intend to create a public Nature Walk with the data students have contributed. We will welcome creative submissions from the community, such as artwork, poetry, photography, videos, or other types of media.”
The tour started with a warm welcome from the professor, Alina, and Matt; we were invited to taste Chirps, a cricket-based crisp (http://www.sixfoods.com/#products). As we moved outside, the sensory stimulation continued: we sang and listened to spoken word poetry, smelled bark, touched acorns, and visually absorbed the details of our surroundings. The technology was present but not overwhelming; in fact, a few of us commented that being filmed in a group for a learning resource felt more comfortable and inviting than being filmed in a formal studio for a flipped lesson. These are the types of video resources I would learn from and want to watch if forced to sit in front of a monitor for hours. The sensory stimulation created strong residual messages as bits of knowledge were absorbed almost psychosomatically.
Alina Nevin’s GIS app worked brilliantly, only emphasizing how well she and Matt have blended the technology to subtly enhance the course.
I can’t say enough positive about this learning experience and the marvelous things being accomplished in the course –it is a major inspiration, and a world of thanks for being invited to view and participate. What a perfect way to spend Earth Day 2015! –Dana Milstein