Wednesday, February 27, 2013

eBOL Launch

This is our week of educational activities. On Tuesday we started with our School Malaise Program
The BIOBus at King George Public School in Guelph
and we've visited three elementary schools so far. Only 57 more to go! Check out Twitter or Facebook for more info and pictures like the one on the right.

Today is the day for the next big news:
Together with our friends from Coastal Marine Biolabs in Ventura, CA and the crew from Spongelab we (BIO and BOLD) launched eBOL a new community tool developed for educators who want to use DNA Barcoding as a classroom tool. Here the official press release:

Developed in partnership with educators, bioinformaticians, researchers, and science media experts, the eBOL Community Web Portal integrates new digital resources to bridge the biodiversity knowledge gap and advance DNA barcoding as an interdisciplinary teaching and learning tool.

"DNA barcoding has stimulated a great deal of interest and excitement from high school science teachers and university instructors who struggle to bring authentic research experiences into their science labs," said Linda Santschi , Scientific Co-Director of the California-based Coastal Marine Biolabs.  The ability of DNA barcoding to bind different life science disciplines within a single scientific workflow is extremely attractive to educators who are frustrated with prescriptive and outmoded lab experiences. "Through eBOL, we have a unique opportunity to not only heighten student awareness of this powerful new technology and how it works, but to develop it as a model to innovate life science education." 

At the center of this open-access resource is a customized student interface to the world-class Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD), an enterprise-scale informatics platform that forms the framework for DNA Barcoding technology.  "For the first time since the launch of the landmark International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project, students around the world have a direct link to the biodiversity genomics community," said Sujeevan Ratnasingham, the Director of Informatics at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario (BIO).  Through the BOLD Student Data Portal (BOLD-SDP), students can utilize a centralized suite of sophisticated informatics tools that enable them to manage, analyze, and share various forms of barcode data with each other and the global iBOL community.  

In addition to BOLD-SDP, the eBOL website provides a gateway to new mobile computing technology for collecting barcode data in the field, and an extensive and indefinitely expandable library of high quality digital learning assets maintained by Spongelab, an award-winning science media and communications group based in Toronto. According to Dirk Steinke , the Director of Education and Outreach at BIO, the establishment of the eBOL website equips educators with the information and tools needed to seamlessly bridge DNA barcoding and education in classrooms worldwide. It also encourages the formation of a diverse and broadly inclusive community committed to revitalizing life science education.  "We envision a future where students working in school and university labs around the world can make lasting contributions to iBOL and meaningfully explore the value of DNA barcoding for addressing a variety of important real-world problems." 

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