This is the first page of the E-Migration, Park Polls case
This is Tom Davies, Program Lead for WebRangers, the National Park Service's on-line Junior Ranger program. Â As the case description indicates, we're always looking at a wide variety of new media concepts for Webrangers and other Park Service educational programs. Â We're really interested in hearing what the group thinks of E-Migration and Park Polls, how they could be improved, and whether there are other concepts you'd like to see added to the mix for our consideration. Â We're also always interested in finding new collaborators and hearing ideas for additional funding and sustainability. We have been working with the NPS Natural Resources Division to develop a "Pollinators" activity for WebRangers that could use many of the same structure of eMigration. Another twist could be to let users select birds that live near to where they do, to see where their avian neighbors travel to. A recent WebRangers Question of the Week asks what birds WebRangers see and hear near their homes. The responses generally indicate only a very cursory knowledgeof the birds arounbd them, but a desire to learn more. I think that eMigration would be an excellent addition to the WebRangers program.
I like the e-migration better that the park Polls. In schools I have worked with we had really good results with the park passport idea that we modified from your "passport" program from the parks. For secondary students the idea of population and trophic levels is a good concept to shoot for but for elementary the teachers are in need of some great activities that teach observation and arguing from evidence skills. Perhaps some real scenarios where decisions have had to be made about various parks (like the traffic issue in Yosemite or the fire management in Bandolier) or even day to day decisions real rangers face. The students could don the ranger hat for a bit, gather evidence and present their decision to a class or a group in a threaded discussion and then compare their work to how the rangers decided in real life.
The weather statistics on some of the NP websites are wonderful. I wish more of the parks included that type of climate data. I am interested in following what happens with the e-migration idea...it is brilliant!
Shannon Cde Baca
First, I like the idea. Second, I cannot find the emigration tool/activity on the WebRangers page. I would like to comment on it but without use, I would do the idea disservice. Is there a way to make the resource more obvious? I created a WebRangers account and found my office. I searched using the terms migration and emigration without any results. Where is the link to emigration?
Thoughts...is there a way to upload actual data from a real, live bird that is banded? It would be great to have a virtual bird follow or join a flock of migrating real birds. If this were the case, then you could incorporate GPS and possibly GIS to map the course of the birds, real and virtual, show images, perhaps using Google Earth or a similar tool, of the location for the birds each night/week or change of location. At various locations you could "see" the resting, nesting, mating, sites of the birds. Perhaps kids, families, classrooms .... could sponsor a bird, getting its image and personal information in the form of an electronic profile...the learning outcomes could address issues of geography, life science, and use of technology as well as human interaction/impact on habitat. A historical/social studies component could be built in if the location where a bird rested/nested... had a timeline associated with it giving historical views and accounts of the location based upon primary sources (images, journals...)
See the Manahatta Project for ideas on how to use GIS to tell paleoenvironmental stories as well as other topics
Possibly you have already thought of all this and it is part of the tool/activity but as I mentioned, I cannot find emigration via the webranger site.
Quick clarification to everyone looking at this case--E-Migration and Park Polls are concepts only at this stage--there isn't a way to access them from the NPS site or Webrangers. We're hoping the descriptions of them are rich enough to provide opportunities for useful feedback like Shannon and Doug's, the goal being to help NPS decide whether they are worth pursuing, and if so, in what form. We've gotten a number of back-channel comments from folks about these concepts (and I'm guessing NPS has too)--we'd encourage everyone doing this to share their thoughts with the group. Thanks!
I think the e-migration is a neat idea so long as it's confined to the WebRangers page. If it's proposed as an addition to just the general page for each individual park, I think many users would perceive it as intrusive or possibly an annoyance. The park polls strike me as a bit more problematic. Of course most kids are going to want to choose the charismatic megafauna. I'm not sure that the game as described really gets them to the goal of appreciating all the biodiversity in a park, instead of just the charming species. My perception would be that a child would just be frustrated or competitive about who gets to be the "cool" animals and who has to be the lowly ones. The idea about having them make a master plan seems more on point.
Leopold Foundation wrote:
> Of course most kids are going to want to choose the
> charismatic megafauna. I'm not sure that the game
> as described really gets them to the goal of appreciating
> all the biodiversity in a park, instead of just the
> charming species.
Exactly the same first reaction I had, which led me to think about how you could tweak the game idea to achieve (require) balance. There's an element here of The Prisoners' Dilemma, the calculations about how much to trust others and how much to be selfish.
I guess, given that, the big question is whether the payoff -- a balanced ecology -- is adequate to the players to motivate community-minded behavior. Is there a way to build in something cool about the less charismatic species (and never underestimate kids' love of the grossness factor) that would encourage kids to choose to be these?
Given the success of things (that mystify me) like 4Square, where people compete for the privilege of getting a virtual "badge" or being listed online as "Mayor," NPS could come up with cost-free but ego boosting ways of building in that motivation. For example, if different parts of the country or different park sites were holding unique Park Polls, there could be a site wide "leader board" of those parks that had achieved balance for the longest time. Go out of balance and you drop down the board...
Cool ideas, both, and look forward to reading more comments here and seeing them develop!