neon education

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NEON Education

NEON is unique as education is explicitly built into the project. Education programs range from citizen science, K-12 to university level.


University ProgramOnline Learning MaterialsREU Program (undergrad research program)Internship ProgramGraduate coursePostdoctoral ProgramWorkshops, seminars and coursesThe university program contains a suite of programs and products ranging from online materials for students and educators.

2Unprecedented Opportunity in EcologyHampton et al, 2013Frontiers in EcologyWeencourage ecologists to join the larger scientific community in global initiatives to address major scientificand societal problems by bringing their distributed data to the table and harnessing its collective power. Thescientists who contribute such information will be at the forefront of socially relevant science but willthey be ecologists?Big data generally refer to massive volumes of data not readily handled by the usual data tools and practices and present unprecedented opportunities for advancing science and informing resource management through data-intensive approaches.So today, Im here to talk to you about our online learning materials that were developing as a part of our university program.

Given the time of big data and organizations like NEON who are providing free, open data - we have an unprecedented opportunity and challenge upon us.

these data offer great potential in terms of global and regional analysis. Yet - there is a suite of new skills that are required for the 21rst century ecologist / scientist to use these data. Bigger data require new tools tools that perhaps many of us didnt learn or are in the process of learning as we are confronted with new datasets3Free / Open Source Tools


GNU OctaveProgrammingSpatial Analysis (GIS)

Remote Sensing


Data Management

And here are some of those tools. Free, open source tools.

Show of hands

who in this room has heard of atleast one of these tools? More than one?Who is this room has used one of these tools? More than one?

Who in this room has TAUGHT one or more of these tools in their classroom?

And who in this room has documented these lessons in a way that they could be shared??

What data did you use to teach?? Its overwhelming where to begin?4Resources & Tools for Data Literacy / Analysis SkillsDevelop: Understanding / Awareness of Key Tools / PracticesFacilitate: Use of Big Data in Research & Classroom Engage: working with NEON dataSupporting 21rst Data Literacy

We at NEON, are looking to build / support building of materials that support development of the skills needed to work with big data like NEON data.5A Online, Module ApproachFree & Open Data Analysis ToolsCommunity Reviewed / TestedFree to Use / ModifySo here is the approach we are taking now.


We will build lessons and activities that a faculty or graduate student could incorporate directly into a lab or classroom activity.

The lessons:Addresses some ecology questionuse open source tools that are free to download. Will include prepacked datasetswill include suggested relevant publications.

But because we build the parts in a modular way some faculty might prefer to just use a particular part.6Online Concept Videos

LiDAR - Introduction to Light Detection and RangingSearch: NEON LidarSo for example, we have a set of videos on lidar data that an instructor might want to use in a class or assign students to watch outside of the class. These videos teach key concepts about a particular type of measurement. In this case, it is lidar.

We are currently experimenting with YouTube. Get in touch if youd like the links to see some of what we are creating. This is a snapshot.

Key Data Concept:Lidar data can be used to map trees and other vegetation over large areas.Many riparian studies are starting to use it to map riparian buffer coverage.If you want to study riparian vegetation across wide areas you will likely use remote sensing data. 7Prepackaged Presentations

TREE HEIGHTThis is a powerpoint slide from a presentation about how lidar data works.

The idea here is that conceptually a student should understand how the lidar system collects information and how that relates to TREE HEIGHT. So on the right you have a beam of light from the lidar shooting through the tree and the bumps on the left represent the height of the top[ of the tree and the ground elevation.

The top of the tree will reflect more light energy back to the lidar system.


Time (Elevation)Returned EnergySingle Return

vTime (Elevation)Returned EnergyTwo Returns

We will make graphics available starting a digital media library that could be used in teaching to emphasize key learning concepts. (data focused). Wed like everyone to contribute to this library. It could build over time and become a tremendous resource.

Similarly, these graphics just show how lidar works so if the light energy hits a tree vs an area with just grass you will get a different amount of reflected light energy back (or a different shape). This can be used to them characterize what is happening on the ground.9Vegetation ChangeMetaDataDisturbanceRemote SensingLiDAR dataImageryUncertaintyData Specific TopicsEco-HydrologyProcessing MethodsScience TopicsData Collection Method Specific TopicsOnline Learning TopicsThe idea is that we build a network of lessons within key topic areas. Lessons will have a combination of data focused learning outcomes mixed with ecology / science lessons. But the focus is building data literacy and skills. Lessons can be used independently, or together to built course sections.10THEME: Aquatic Systems IntegritySub-Theme: Riparian VegetationTopic / Question: Structural Attributes of Riparian Forest Trees & UnderstoryData Methods: Remote SensingSpecific Method: LiDAR Data

Lets build out an example theme at a very high level.

The idea here is that say you were interested in studying riparian vegetation.

You might want to use lidar data to look at vegetation across an entire watershed.

-- so if you arent comfortable with this example then remove it. I just realized that. 11Community Driven Portal?Vegetation ChangeDisturbanceRemote SensingLiDAR dataImageryCan we build a space where all of us working in these areas can contribute?

Review existing materials

Share topic ideas

Contribute graphics, videos 2013 National Ecological Observatory Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Now this last piece is the important part. There are other people building lessons for their students using data And weve seen the power of open source, open access just have a look at wikipedia.

Can we somehow build or participate in a community that contributes lesson plans to a central portal. A place where you could take lessons and modify them to suit classroom needs. then reshare with everyone. A place with version control, etc.12Topics UnderwayLiDAR data products (under development)Collaborating with Jan van Aardt (RIT), Laura Chasmer & Chris Hopkinson (University of Lethbridge) , Crystal Schaaf (Boston University)Measuring PhotosynthesisCollaborating with David Moore (U of Arizona), Pat Morgan (LiCOR), Ankur Desai (Wisconsin)

Moving ForwardWe are working with various faculty on several modules currently. One in the area of lidar and the other in the area of flux measurements. We will take on other topics in the future and look forward to working with others on aquatic related topics.

This could also be example aquatic topics.

I think some of the data coming online in the next year will be things like stream discharge, temperature, there are riparian veg metrics but I dont know what ones. 13NEON Data Portal

Usability TestingExternal Expert Usability Firm

Usability TestingAn effective way to understand our users needs Inform UI/UX Design Informed Requirements1) User SurveyUser Survey: n=307December 2013, AGUDocument: AGU 2013 Survey Results

We handed the internal review of requirements over to an external firm with expertise in usability research, ui and ux design.

This firm subsequently performed research to better understand our audience. 17QuestionsHow do users find data?What terminology is familiar?What features do users need?What formats / packaging do they prefer?Informed Workflow: Users asked to perform tasks using prototypes

We used this initial test to understand the typical workflow of our users in more detail. We asked them questions about how they go about finding the data that they need for a project. What tools they would use, what words would they use to search for. Then we showed them a data portal that serves climate data using a map and assessed how they interacted with it.18Results: Data SearchLocationUsers wanted to identify location, using a mapUsers were most often interested in data for a region or near a point on a map

Finding DataSearch by: What the data measureUsers Wanted: Clear documentation to assess quality

Users come to a portal with what they want in mind

Working with the usability experts, we implemented 2 rounds of testing on

Questions surrounding working with portals andFeedback on some early designs based upon both internal requirements generation, usability survey results and usability testing. 19Website Design

Design WireframesLanding Page

Design WireframesBrowse Data

Design WireframesData downloading(see top of image)

Account page My Datasets

Leah A. Wasser, Ph.D.