Bio150 2015: Syllabus

Here’s my syllabus (PDFdocx) for Bio150. This course is taught in parallel by multiple instructors: we have a shared set of topics to teach, and the same textbook, but then it is up to each instructor to develop her or his section. Mine this semester has 235 students. I will do a mixture of active learning, traditional lecturing, and other activities. In the past I had students use an app I wrote to find local species; this semester I am moving to use iNaturalist instead. I have created a project for students to populate with six observations each. They must observe:

  • A fungus
  • A vertebrate that is not a rodent or bird
  • An insect
  • An invertebrate that is not an insect
  • An angiosperm
  • A plant that is not an angiosperm

Grading 1410 observations will be a bit daunting, but I’m planning to use rOpenSci‘s rinat (written by Vijay Barve and Edmund Hart) to help with that.

I’m also banning laptops or other electronic devices for note taking (except for documented accommodations, of course). I include the justification for this in the syllabus: Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014), which shows that retention is far better with hand-written notes than with a laptop (leaving aside all the distractions from things that aren’t note taking that one can do on a laptop).

I also suggest that students try to see some of BBC’s great recent nature documentaries (Planet Earth, Life, Blue Planet) but did not add a Netflix subscription as a requirement — college is expensive enough.

Macroevolution / Biodiversity videos removed

I typically record videos of all my lectures and post them to YouTube. In my lectures, I may include a video clip or two available on YouTube, often from the BBC or a similar source of high quality videos. I make sure to credit these appropriately, and of course they’re being used as short clips, educationally, with no ads or other commercial benefit to me. However, the BBC has lately been quite vigorous in scrubbing YouTube of any of my lectures with their content. I believe my use of their videos falls under “Fair Use”, but I am not a lawyer, and I don’t want to take the time to go through each of my lectures and scrub them of any video content or contest the BBC’s claims. In any case, it is validly their content. I am thus turning all my videos from Macroevolution and Biodiversity “private”: I can review them later to see what worked or didn’t in class, but they are no longer available for anyone else to see. However, this is not a great loss: I have been surprised that in a class of ~200 students, most videos have 8 or fewer views, even on days where there were many students absent. I am keeping online my other videos, and will be creating more content for the Spring 2016 PhyloMeth class (which will be taught as a flipped class, with content available to everyone).

Biodiversity 2012

This is Biodiversity 130, Spring 2012. It is a course covering basic evolution and a walk through various taxa. The main site content is set up on Blackboard (behind a log in wall). You may want to check out the Lampyr web/iOS app being developed as part of this course. The syllabus is here.


Creative Commons License
You can adopt these for your own work, with attribution. Note that I have attempted to use only images licensed under such terms myself, but you should take care, especially with images from papers or embedded videos. I have attributed all the media used (with some exceptions for public domain items), and I think this is fair use for education, but I am not a lawyer.
All lectures are available, concatenated, as PDF (344 MB) and Apple Keynote (3.6 GB).