Science students learn about parasites through ABEL videoconferencing


Above: Ken Davey, onscreen during the videoconference with students in the top inset screen

Grade 11 workplace science students at Middlefield Collegiate in York Region recently had an opportunity to learn about “Insects, Worms and Health” from a York professor emeritus during an exciting videoconference on parasites between the University and the school.

Ken Davey, research professor emeritus of biology in the Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, videoconferenced with students at the school when he delivered his presentation with the help of ABEL (Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning) tools.

“Conducting a presentation to school students by videoconferencing is different from being in the same room, but one can see the students and take questions from them, and they are seeing your visual aids,” said Davey.

“The technology is still under development in ABEL, but once it is fully operational it will be a powerful tool for bringing a good deal into the classroom that might not otherwise be available.”

Organizers of the videoconference used Macromedia Breeze Live to share PowerPoint across the network using flash technology. They also used interactive chat as an added form of communication between the two sites.

Right: Videoconference screen

High-school science teacher, Camille Hunte, was one of the organizers of the successful event. She noted that her students enjoyed the experience and appreciated the knowledge imparted by Davey, who was one of the presenters of the York-based Science Speakers Series, a distinguished professor who was named Officer of the Order of Canada in 1997.

In their feedback about the videoconference, students showed strong indications that they would like to do it again because the experience felt “real” and the professor was “very knowledgeable”. They said they enjoyed his interesting explanations and visuals through the videoconferencing technology.

Right: Some of the Middlefield Collegiate students listening to Ken Davey

ABEL is funded by the CANARIE (Canada’s Advanced Internet Development Organization) e-Learning program, which is housed at York and supported by the Office of the VP Research & Innovation. An interactive, collaborative learning model for teacher and faculty professional development and education delivery, ABEL is currently for users in Ontario and Alberta. It interconnects the faculties of education at York University and the University of Alberta with six schools in Toronto and Edmonton.

For more information on ABEL, click here or visit the Sept. 18, 2003, edition of YFile.

The information in the above article is from Dara Forberg, ABEL Communications.

More about Ken Davey

Davey, who has been recognized on behalf of his work for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Science, taught at Montreal’s McGill University and served as director of McGill’s Institute of Parasitology from 1964-1974 before coming to York.

At the University he was Chair of the Department of Biology, dean of the Faculty of Science from 1982-1985 and vice-president (Academic Affairs). He has approximately 180 publications in the scientific literature, including the book, Reproduction in the Insects (Oliver and Boyd, 1965), with a Spanish edition published the following year.