Tropical Cloud Forest Course
with Dr. Jason Bradford; November 3-30, 2003

Frequently Asked Questions

What is this course about?
The Tropical Cloud Forest Course is an on-line, interactive means for educators to meet with one another and research scientists to learn more about general principles in biodiversity, ecology, evolution, climate, geography and conservation biology while focusing on the particular issues of tropical cloud forests--a kind of tropical rainforest found in the mountains.

When is it?
The next course will last 4 weeks, from Nov. 3-30, 2003, with on-line resources remaining available for 4 weeks afterwards.

How will this on-line course work?
An on-line course is modeled after traditional face-to-face courses. For example we will have features such as speaker segments, a place to discuss classroom implementation, a cafe for informal chat and networking, a web-library with a resource center, and a participant directory.  All the material created and contributed will serve as a resource for more learning programs in the future. Features are scheduled over a period of time such as days or a week, instead of hours to allow participants from all over the globe time to  access and respond. There will also be a Help Desk available at all times.

When and how can educators join this course?
There is an online registration page. It will be self-registration.  Through a grant, the first 60 people to register have the cost of $50 waived.

What about the technology used here? (e.g., audio conferencing, streaming video, web-based conferencing software)
Minimally, you will need a computer with an internet connection and a web browser. To take full advantage of some new technology we will be using, you should also have speakers or headphones and software that allows you to view and hear the presentations simultaneously (see the PowerPoint Demo page). Major presentations will be highly graphical and include audio.  Integrated audio/visual presentations will require either RealOne or Windows Media Player software, which can be downloaded for free.  However, you are not required to participate in this way and if you do not wish to install this software you will still be able to see and read presentation material.  Discussions occur via text-based, asynchronous conferencing where someone starts a conversation by posting (in writing) and then everyone that arrives after the posting can respond. Posts are made in order of time posted, so the result is much like a real dialogue. Discussion items are separated by subject and the person featured, so it's automatically organized and archived as well.  The conference software (Caucus) allows uploading of images and other documents for sharing and storing. We are conscientious of slow internet connections and expect a minimum speed of 28.8K. 

What are some guidelines for appropriate participation in an on-line course?
t's as simple as this: be thoughtful to other participants. We are building a community of learners here. We expect many diverse perspectives, experiences, and insights. This will enrich our discussions and overall learning over the length of the program. Be yourself, share your knowledge, and have fun. The only thing that the your hosts will not accept is hostile and obscene language, but we're confident that participants will use their good judgment and our experience shows this environment to be friendly and supportive to everyone involved. This is a professional development program for educators - - so, please, we ask that no children or students join, but other interested adults are welcome.

What if I am interested in this a topic, but don't have a thorough background in science?
Any adult who is interested in teaching and learning about biodiversity and conservation is encouraged to attend.  The material is presented in an introductory manner, but is novel enough that experienced biology teachers should learn plenty too.

What about access to the course?
This course takes place entirely in a password protected web site. Only those that have User IDs and passwords will be allowed into the site.

For those who could not "attend" a particular presentation, will it be recorded somewhere?
All presentations and all the “rooms” (and all dialogue) remains on the web and accessible for the full length of the program. Participants have ample opportunity to "attend" any aspect of the program they want. As a participant, you will have full archive and plenty of time after an event to go back and catch up on areas that you didn't have time to “attend” during the actual presentation week. And, participants can continue to interact with each other at any time.