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  • Teacher Discussion

    Connecting With Other Classrooms

    To contribute to the discussion below send e-mail to: jn-talk@learner.org

    RE: Frustration!

    Elizabeth Donnelly (edonnelly@jriver.jriver.com)
    Fri, 14 Mar 1997 14:59:09 -0500


    Thank you for expressing your frustrations. The issues you raise about data
    & quality control need to be addressed, and I'd like to let you know what
    we are doing about them.

    First some background: This is the first year we have automated the
    reporting system, and it has proven very difficult for many teachers to
    use. In past years, data was handled manually and subscribers did not see
    the data before it had been reviewed. There is an important distinction you
    may not be aware of:

    * The database contains data exactly as users have entered it. It is raw
    (See: http://www.learner.org/cgi-bin/jnorth/jn-query/)

    * The Journey North News reports contain summaries of data in the
    database. To the best of our ability, that data is screened before it is
    included in the news reports:

    * Comments are read.
    * Observers are contacted to verify questionable data.
    * Multiple sightings and inaccuracies are discarded
    * Latitude and longitude are added manually before GIS maps are published
    * Finally, students are always advised to scrutinize the data, to
    consider how it was collected and by whom. (This is why the e-mail address
    of the observer is attached to the data contributed. )

    As I'm sure you can appreciate, in order to track migrations and other
    spring events, we must strike a balance between competing needs: The need
    for sufficient quantities of data and the need for high quality data. We
    must rely on a large body of observers or the program would not work.
    However, as you accurately point out, the need for teacher training in
    protocol is evident--and will be the key to the longterm success of this

    With regard to latitude and longitude:
    Our WWW-based Field Data Forms contain a hotlink directly to the USGS
    database, so latitude and longitude can easily be obtained. Nevertheless,
    very few people add this information to their data. We do not want to
    reject data without latitude and longitude for the following reason: Of
    the 1,500 schools registered for Journey North, 1,300 receive the program
    via E-mail. Therefore, we suspect most of our participants are low-end
    technology users, do not have good access to the WWW and therefore

    We are presently exploring ways to automate lat/long look-up directly from
    our registration database. This would allow lat/long to be added to data
    without user input.

    In the meantime, we would like to hear from participating teachers:

    * Should we included lat/long values for all data in the Journey North
    News summaries?

    * Would the delay in posting data summaries in the Journey North News
    reports be worth the wait? (i.e. while latitude and longitude are added

    Dennis, thank you for raising these issues. You have good insights to
    contribute, and we will miss your participation. We hope you'll check back
    at a future time when these improvements have been made.

    We hope other teachers will comment on these issues, and on other aspects
    of the program. Your feedback is welcome and needed!

    To contribute please send comments to: jn-talk@learner.org

    Elizabeth Donnelly
    Journey North

    Journey North
    18150 Breezy Point Road
    Wayzata, Minnesota 55391

    Phone: (612)476-6470
    FAX: (612)339-7056
    WWW: http://www.learner.org
    E-mail: jnorth@learner.org