Campers use Web 2.0 technology to study botany

Release date: 

August 6, 2008

Fourteen students from the Triangle community participated in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's first BotCamp on July 31 through Aug. 2. BotCamp is part of BOT 2.0, an innovative program featuring a curriculum that weaves together four key themes – botany, environmental conservation, the use of social technologies and metadata literacy.

Using digital cameras and camera phones to capture images of plants and trees in the field, the enthusiastic campers downloaded their photos to Web 2.0 social computing technologies such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and blogs. In the classroom, they focused on using metadata tagging for classification of each image.

“Researchers have demonstrated that students learn more effectively when they are actively engaged in the learning process and self evaluation,” said Dr. Jane Greenberg, Francis Carroll McColl Term professor at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and principal investigator of the BOT 2.0 program.“BOT 2.0 applies this active learning approach using Web 2.0 social computing technologies to increase student engagement in botanical science and to address known recruitment and retention challenges.”

Students with nontraditional backgrounds from Alamance Community College, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University and UNC at Chapel Hill were selected for the camp. The camp included outings to the UNC Arboretum, the NC Botanical Gardens, the UNC Herbarium, Mason Farms and other natural surroundings with botanical experts. The group also attended information management and technology sessions at SILS.

photo of campersBotCampers and camp counselors from left to right, Curtis Williams; Dr. Jane Greenberg, SILS faculty, and BOT 2.0 PI; Eunisa Simone Lindsey; David Woodbury, SILS student; Dr. Alan Weakley, Botanical Garden Herbarium curator; Destiny Harris;Komi Segno Messan; Candace Farrish; Tosha Roberts; Andeliene Croce (in tree); Tracy Anderson (in tree); Morgan Robinson; Jacob Kramer-Duffield, SILS student; Heather Wolff; Jennifer Kellie Walters; Dr. Evelyn Daniel, SILS associate dean for academic affairs, and BOT 2.0 co-PI; and Domonique Bulls. Photo by Dr. Brian Sturm.

BOT 2.0 is a collaborative effort between the Metadata Research Center at SILS the North Carolina Botanical Garden, the UNC Herbarium, the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) and Information Technology Services. It is a two year program funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation and it is led by Greenberg, and Alan Weakley, curator of the UNC Herbarium, a department of the NC Botanical Garden.

photo of campers

Dr. Jane Greenberg shares information with BotCampers in the field as they study plant samples. Photo by David Woodbury, SILS graduate student.





For more information about BOT 2.0, access the Metadata Research Center Web site.

Note: Metadata as defined by “describes other data. It provides information about a certain item's content. For example, an image may include metadata that describes how large the picture is, the color depth, the image resolution, when the image was created and other data. A text document's metadata may contain information about how long the document is, who the author is, when the document was written, and a short summary of the document. Metadata is frequently used on Web pages to help describe the content, allowing search engines to locate information when requested.” Tags are descriptions in the code used to create Web pages.)