The university teachers of several finnish universities will gather together in the Lammi Biological Station next week (13-15.12.). The BIOPEDA II -workshop & seminar continues the work which started last March in Konnevesi Biological Station. The agenda is to develope the co-operation of the different universities and field stations in the context of teaching biology and related subjects on the field.
The co-operation is seen as a possibility to enhance the quality of teaching, serving the common goals of the academia. Teaching on the field is partly reinforced with the scaffolding use of digital resources. One step in order to reach the goals has been the launch of the internet-portal maasto-opetus.fi. This site will be developed further during the workshop in Lammi. The principal targets of this portal are to offer information to both students and teachers, act as a tool to interact and offer tools for better teaching. For example, the portal will offer ready made instructions how to set up different experiments on courses; the teacher can use these instructions as such, or make minor adjustments according to local conditions.
The schedule and invitation letter (in finnish) is attached. More information from tiina.kolari AT uef.fi.
Welcome to LBS.
The two day workshop at LBS was successful in creating a lot of content to the web site. The mission of the project was also elucidated.
Our mission is to increase the cooperation between teachers and sharing of teaching resources within the Finnish university research network. This will aid both to reduce costs and improve the diversity and quality of courses offered to students, thus increasing the expertise and know-how available in Finland. The university fieldwork website has been created as part of the Kone Foundation funded BIOPEDA project.
The internet portal is still being developed; the material will be edited and uploaded there in the near future. Everyone interested writing new field course works are encouraged. Blank forms for submitting new works will be available soon, until then do not hesitate to contact the project through info AT maasto-opetus.fi. When the portal is ready different language versions will also be launched.
The portal will also provide a channel to share info and / or memories from field courses held. The blog will be updated with regular intervals, but if you want to share something please do so! The blog posts will be published also in our Facebook page.
Stay tuned also for the publication written after the first seminar in Konnevesi, it will be published soon in the Journal ofUniversity Pedagogy.
Situated in the distant north-western corner of Finland, Kilpisjärvi Biological Station is the youngest of biological field stations of University of Helsinki. The field station was established in 1964 and is famous for its unique location, surroundings and research activities based on long-term monitoring schemes, especially on phenology and population dynamics of the key species in arctic ecosystems.
Since 1986 a field course on subarctic ecology has been a steady part of the stations summer program and one of the most traditional field courses for students of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. (Well, the first course was held in 1980 but was put to halt for two years because of the stations renovation work). For sure the course structure has seen many changes and co-teachers during its +30 year history, but it is still more or less driven by the field station’s manager, Professor Antero Järvinen, and concentrates on the main characteristics of subarctic nature.
Recently the course has been held for up to 15 students, lasting 10 days during the end of June and the first half of July. The combination of excellent surroundings, introductory and advanced lectures, small-scale course studies and variety of field excursions has made this course one of the most anticipated field courses among the students. Every course is unique, since the students themselves are one of the key contents, as every student gives a presentation, chosen from a list of given topics, in a student seminar or during a field excursion.
The starting point for the course is the conditions that organisms face in these arctic latitudes; how the ecological features and limiting factors shift as the importance of biotic factors (e.g. predation, competition between species) decrease and the importance of abiotic factors (average temperature, extreme variations of weather conditions) increase, how organisms have adapted to cope with the extreme conditions and how to exploit the resources available. Furthermore, the theoretical background highlights the role of key species and, naturally, the long-term changes, both in the climatic conditions and species’ population dynamics.
“The field excursion and teaching species
identification in the field were the best part
of the course.”
But there’s no better way to put theory into practice than sending the students to the field. As a starter, the students collect data for small-scale course works in a small study area nearby the station. The topics have varied, from surveying bird nests to collecting spiders, but the focus is on field methodology, standardizing, sampling and observing the nature from scientific perspective. Step by step, the excursions tend to get broader, from full day hikes to the nearby fells (mountain) or visiting the Norwegian fjords with their own wildlife. The course also visits the bog areas situated 100 km south of Kilpisjärvi, especially the palsa bog areas, introducing the students to another important habitat type of arctic ecosystems.
“Teaching was really inspiring and teachers gave
attention to every student. Each teacher on the
course is a firm expert of one’s own field.”
Species identification is another important aspect on the course. The purpose is to mainly give general education, as different habitats are characterized by their species compositions. Of course, the background and purpose of species identification skills and mastering species communities were dealt with, since knowing the different bird calls or leaf structures can be essential when working with experimental or plain monitoring studies. But “picking up the cool stuff” and highlighting the specialties of this particular region is also important.
For sure every hue and detail cannot be observed during a single course, but it’s also about exciting and inspiring the students. What a way to familiarize a new generation of students for the function of field stations, biodiversity monitoring and scientific examination than offering hands-on experiences and chances to witness the atmosphere of this one-of-a-kind environment. Field courses like this are also important for recruiting new people for the field stations – and field station based teaching also serves its crucial part on university-level education.
“During the field excursions I realized how
unique the nature in this part of Finnish Lapland
really is. Many thanks to the organizers!”