October 15, 2012

When an invasive fruit fly was found in Mexico's important agricultural states, the Mexican government reached out to the experts at OSU's Spotted Wing Drosophila Project to help them deal with this new threat to fruit exports. In turn, SWD Project staff consulted the experts at Technology Across the Curriculum, a unit of Information Services, to help the Project optimize a Spanish-language research review and protect agricultural interests across North America.

The resulting presentation, forged within the University's goal of addressing global challenges and funded entirely by the Mexican government, married an audience-appropriate pedagogy with interactive technology. It was a resounding success, one that enhanced the Project's international reputation.

"I went to Mexico feeling confident that my research review would be engaging and be of technical value," said Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) Project Manager Linda Brewer, "and it was."

Brewer's task was to present SWD research findings to state, national, and privately supported field advisors to the strawberry industry in the states of Michoacán and Jalisco and to convey species identification techniques for field workers. Brewer, who had previously attended a Technology Across the Curriculum (TAC) seminar on PowerPoint-delivered learning that she found "enormously helpful," collaborated with TAC's Jon Dorbolo and Kimmy Hescock to address the learning objectives in three ways:

  1. A dichotomous key poster helped field advisors learn how to visually identify Spotted Wing Drosophila.
  2. A PowerPoint presentation walked participants through project findings and posed pop quiz questions, which were "announced" by way of an old-fashioned desk bell, to the audience's delight.
  3. TurningPoint clickers added interactivity to the quizzes, slides, and audience discussion.

"Although twice as many people enrolled as anticipated, I was able to facilitate lively audience discussion using clicker responses as a springboard," Brewer said. "They very much engaged the audience. I overheard somebody say that he was much more likely to pay close attention since there would be an anonymous quiz at the end of each content section."

Moreover, Brewer found that her smartphone-savvy audience learned to use the clickers in under a minute; and as an administrator and instructor, she found the system easy to work with. "It just took one session, plus one refresher, for me to get up to speed."

Brewer appreciates the one-on-one sessions TAC provided to help her with the technology and the pedagogy of crafting a good clicker question. "The TAC people were wonderful. Having that kind of personal support is great."

Please visit the Spotted Wing Drosophila Project website for information on how the project is performing research and developing resources to help the Pacific Northwest small fruit industry, growers, gardeners, and researchers manage this invasive fruit fly. Please visit the Technology Across the Curriculum website for information on how TAC provides consulting services to OSU faculty and staff on Blackboard, classroom technologies, social and immersive technologies, and more.

Linda Brewer, Project Manager, SWD Project

Linda Brewer, Project Manager, SWD Project

Spanish language dichotomous key poster from the Spotted Wing Drosophila Project

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Poster authorship: Linda Brewer, OSU Department of Horticulture, and Kimmy Hescock, Technology Across the Curriculum. Translation: Lucia Robelo, OSU Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. Photos: Martin Hauser of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Steve Valley of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.