Mobile botany: Smart phone photography in laboratory classes enhances student engagement

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In our first-year university botany classes at Charles Sturt University, we noticed that in laboratory class, students were taking photographs of their specimens with the dissecting and compound microscopes using their mobile phones. Student-generated images as “learning objects” were used to enhance the engagement of all students, including Distance Education students who used images provided by the on-campus students. The distance education students did all the laboratory work at an intensive residential school, and they were encouraged to take images; these were shared with on-campus students, making them aware of the laboratory practical work they were yet to do. In other cases, images from students were incorporated into lectures and tutorials, preparing students for the lab exam. Botany students have shared their photomicrographs with their friends and family via social media. We saw interesting examples of students excitedly describing their images to non-science friends, teaching them what they were learning! In the second year, students were also encouraged to use their phones to capture their own images of plant specimens to help them master plant identification. Although we do not have any quantitative evidence of these activities enhancing student learning, it was evident that those students who took and shared their own images were more engaged in the learning process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-702
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Biology Teacher
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

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