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The Virtual Field Update

Locations of field stations that contributed content to The Virtual Field website.

Archbold’s Director of Education, Dustin Angell, was a panelist at the annual meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists in late March. Dustin presented the e-learning initiatives at Archbold and other field stations across North America. He highlighted The Virtual Field which is a multi-site collaboration involving members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS). The Virtual Field received funding in 2020 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide support and technology for field stations learning to go virtual in response to COVID-19. The website states, "The Virtual Field creates and shares virtual teaching materials and events from field stations, marine laboratories and other research or educational sites around the world. Collaborative virtual projects teach field skills, such as observation, communication, and critical thinking. Associated instructional materials are designed for university faculty and are being adapted for students of all ages and disciplines." In less than a year, The Virtual Field’s website launched with 115 web collaborators and 20 Ecosystem Exploration videos. The group also organized five multi-site e-learning events. The Virtual Field leadership team includes Archbold’s Executive Director, Dr. Hilary Swain. They are pursuing funding and partnerships to continue the project’s momentum including two further grant applications. The Virtual Field is also proving very useful to guide virtual outreach for audiences beyond college classes including K-12 schools, informal education, and public outreach.