The Oregon Scholar’s Forest: Helping students see the forest for the trees.

“Because the locations of various buildings on any college campus happens to be grouped just the way they are, the Branches of Knowledge represented at each university are unique, of diverse shape and pattern. The scientists are placed near the artists and ethnographers close to athletic departments. Things take root, grow, adapt and we get used to it… and flourish. The results are interconnected patterns of life in close proximity with other academic schools of thought. One thing about campus life that seems the most fruitful has been within the boundaries between these intellectual ecosystems – those frontier zones where it’s not quite one territory anymore and still maybe not quite the other. It’s a strange and surprising mix of both sets of turf.

Walk outside and down the path between buildings on campus. See those trees? You’re going to be using your phone to call your friend in a sec, I know, but hold on – let me show you something on your phone that’s awesome about the U of O. Stand over here by this tree with me. Here, let’s open your portfolio from this campus forest app:

HEDCO Building, 50 yards
Ethnic Studies, 580 yards
Open Source Lab, 68 miles, 1,204 yards
Oaxaca City, Mexico, 2,241 miles, 30 yards

…you can tap on any of those branches there and get contact info for the faculty, their projects, presentations, scholarly papers, etc. – there’s even some cool learning games that some students and faculty teams created over there hanging on that branch. I learned about something that I might use for my journalism class over on this branch when I was here earlier. Here on the trunk they have a project that they’re asking for input from students: do you want to register with your Duck ID and play the game that goes with that survey? I really should check out that Virtual Oaxaca project you are working on. That looks really fun. Was it hard to get into? Maybe I’ll just wait to see what you guys end up putting in the Arboretum and then I’ll decide if I want to try to go one of those Virtual Learning Expeditions”

What if we tag the trees on our campuses and work with students and add data layers relevant to the geographic proximity of our search or profile preferences and settings? How might representing scholarly work using the infographic of the TREE might enable us to create new naturally developing interdisciplinary projects. This could be an interesting way to display, mix, and analyze digital content. Each program, each campus department, service, or headquarters can be represented through the tree-shaped infographics created for the arboretum. By standing next to a tree there may thus be an interdisciplinary interface – and while subject to the geographies and organization of each unique campus can nevertheless serve as a powerful and transformational context.

“Look here: if I look through this lens at the Oregon Scholars Forest app –

Architecture
BioChemistry
Ethnobotany
Civil Engineering

So… now I can see that this same tree has been specially designated to showcase the portfolio for Campus Sustainability efforts. And here are a few class projects that look like they’re not available for us to see right now. I’ll have to bookmark this with a leaf and come back later.

And check this: you can display your own Oregon WordPress MU Portfolio as a tree and use it to collaborate, record, reflect on, and display the thinking around your own experiences.

Such a simple thing – to tag all of the trees on campus and let it grow. I get it.

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One Response to The Oregon Scholar’s Forest: Helping students see the forest for the trees.

  1. Very cool development of the idea, Jonathon. We’ll use this at some point or another, on this project or another, as we were talking about. But I’m glad you developed it this way, as a teaching-moment monologue set in the near future. Stepping ahead in time far enough to look back on where we now are from one possible perspective set in where we want to be in 1, 3, 5 years–this would be a good tool to use in your proposal (in our UO proposals).

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