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Hunting for whales (in multimedia)

  October 22nd, 2011

I thought this webquest was a great way to start finding materials for the migration and foraging ecology aspects of  ‘The natural history of whales and whaling’ course. I focused on TED, Merlot, Youtube.edu, Wolfram Alpha, NPR, MoOM and Itunes U. The three least useful search engines  (for me – they work fine in other subject areas!) were TED (no content), Wolfram Alpha (which tends to interpret the search query much too narrowly for biology-related questions) and itunes U (full of movie trailers). I got a LOT of hits at youtube.edu and NPR using the search terms “whales OR whaling”. This is excellent, because I was hoping that multimedia would be available.

MoOM looks as though it may have had a few useful resources, but I found it hard to work out how to search this site. In the end, I went to the archives and used my web browser to search for the word “whale”. When I clicked on the links, nothing happened so I had to right click to open a new window which might not be as intuitive for less web-savvy people. I did find this:http://www.wdcs.co.uk/media/flash/whalebanner/content_pub_en.html which might be useful for highlighting some of the adaptations in the cetacean evolutionary lineage, such as really large sizes. Merlot also had a resource on whalers which I’ll be looking into more detail in after looking at all the other links I’ve turned up!

I’m beginning to have an idea that perhaps for the week where I was going to provide the students with multimedia of cetacean feeding strategies, that instead I could set up a webquest for them. This would allow the students to focus in on the species/feeding strategies of greatest interest to them (I’ll be giving an overview of the strategies in the “canned” lecture, so different kinds of strategies won’t be completely overlooked just because they aren’t the student’s favorite). Because I know that there is a fair bit of material out there from the searches I have just done, I feel like I wouldn’t be leading them down a complete dead-end, and I wonder if they might feel a little more engaged if they have to go out and search for examples themselves. This would also make the activity a little more accessible to students with disabilities, because they could select samples which were not necessarily multimedia.

This exercise also highlighted to me the importance of ongoing efforts to keep “an eye out” for resources e.g. I knew Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, had an excellent exhibit on whales, and searching this I found several multimedia items that should be really useful for my class, including this one: http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/category/pygmy-right-whale/page/3/ . If you start at page 3 (the link given here), and work your way backwards, you can see the blog and photos associated with a pygmy right whale necropsy!

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4 Responses to “Hunting for whales (in multimedia)”

  1. Thank you for your post. I like that you are deciding to have them research on the web. I haven’t had them do that as much as find musical sources. I would like to find more reliable sources for music research (but have started turning to the online library sources at OSU).

    I had not explored Merlot (in this form) before. I conducted a search on Film Music but did not find anything. However, I did find some interesting open source music classes and that makes me think about how effective offering some open source material would be at introducing students to the various online programs and degrees at OSU.

    D.Reason

    Comment by reasonmd - October 23rd, 2011 @ 5:07 pm
  2. Alexa, it sounds like you had a pretty fruitful search! I, too, find that I have to schedule some exploration time into my regular routine just to keep up with the resources that are out there. One side benefit of building a webquest into your class is that your students will find some good resources for you to use in future terms. Three cheers for learning communities!

    Comment by Shannon Riggs - October 24th, 2011 @ 10:06 am
  3. One last thing … have you seen the interactives on whales created here at OSU?

    http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/dce/fw302/fw302-dive01e.html

    http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/dce/fw302/migrate/FW302-WhaleMigrationv05-2.html

    Comment by Shannon Riggs - October 24th, 2011 @ 10:08 am
  4. Hi Shannon,

    I had seen the migration one, but not the diving one, so thanks for putting me on to that one!

    Comment by Alana Alexander - October 25th, 2011 @ 9:17 am

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