I am developing a hybrid version of FOR 241 Dendrology. Dendrology literally means “the study of trees.” During the course, students learn about tree taxonomy, morphology, and ecology and develop the skill of tree identification. FOR 241 Dendrology is a core course in several undergraduate degree programs in the College of Forestry and has an annual enrollment of about 80 students. The majority of students who enroll in FOR 241 are Forest Management or Forest Resource Management majors. They are generally interested in the subject of dendrology but anxious about their ability to identify trees from memory.
In the hybrid version of FOR 241, students will complete a 4-week online module that covers the material taught in dendrology lecture, namely the classification and taxonomy of forest trees of North America, structure and function of trees, and the ecology of forest biomes. At the conclusion of the online module, students will travel to OSU to gear up for a 10 day field course module in native tree identification. In the field course module, instructor(s) and students will travel to forested areas of Oregon. We will examine a wide diversity of Oregon trees in their native habitats while hiking, camping, and backpacking, and students will learn and practice the skill of tree identification in the field.
In the online module of the course, content will be delivered primarily in the form of brief PowerPoint slide presentations and reading assignments. An interactive dendrology CD, Woody Plants in North America, and online media such as timelines, time-lapse video, streamed video, and photo archives will be used to augment the slide presentations and to develop students’ observation skills and understanding of morphological variability, tree growth, and evolution. Online class discussions will focus on characteristics used to distinguish closely related and morphologically similar species and genera. Student assessment will primarily take the form of online exams, though student will be required to make an online presentation on a native tree species of the Northwest.
The online course material is preparatory for the field course module. At the conclusion of the online course module, students will know the key characteristics of major forest genera and be able to identify trees to the genus level. However, steps will be taken to integrate the online and face-to-face components of the course. First, each student will be assigned a native tree species to research during the online module. They will present the results of their research online, probably on the course discussion board, during the final week of the module. Second, students will receive a list of species which they will be responsible for learning how to identify during the field course module. Links to species photos and information will be provided online, and students will be encouraged to explore some of this information, as well as the Woody Plants in North America CD, prior to the field course module.