Earth 2.0 unleashed on students

Hi everyone.

This is my first blog entry for Gaia Resources. It’s about our rollout of Earth 2.0 at Edith Cowan University (ECU), where we have donated the use of the project to students in the Bioinformatics unit.

Earth 2.0 is one of my primary responsibilities at Gaia Resources in my new role. My other responsibilities as a Senior Consultant will be varied, but already I am undertaking a requirements analysis, investigating our field data collection tools and working with Corinne on our quality system. I’ll also start looking at developing our training capabilities, and helping with the marketing of the business. All of these tasks link nicely into the Earth 2.0 rollout at ECU.

Last Friday (14th Aug 2009) we started the rollout of Earth 2.0 with some of Dr Kristina Lemson’s undergraduate students. In their usual practical lab, we introduced four students to Earth 2.0.

It was a great opportunity to interact with a different group of users. The student’s project was to record in Earth 2.0 a sample of plant herbarium specimens collected by previous students. In the previous week’s laboratory session the students had come up with a list of the fields that they thought would be useful in Earth 2.0. Anthony applied this to Earth 2.0 as we had talked the students through Earth 2.0’s functionality and explained where in the data structures the attributes would best fit. The flexibility of Earth 2.0 was integral to the success of this. While Piers explained data structures to the students, Anthony adeptly configured the hierarchy and attribute groups.

Once the data setup was done, it was time for the students to enter the data. I thought the project would be easy for the students to run Earth 2.0 through its paces, in most respects it was, but the usual hiccups came out. The first thing we noticed was that the number of fields the students had suggested was huge, scrolling way off the page – lucky we have a button to rearrange the fields onto one screen!

I think the most significant hiccup the students found was deciphering the information on the herbarium cards. Often information was missing, or almost illegible. It brought back memories for me, and was a good introduction for the students.

We were very pleased with what we took away from the session. It helped cement some of the ideas we have for changes to Earth 2.0 in the near future. We’ve already booked another session with a different group of ECU students in October. I’ll let you know how we all get on.

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