The Animal Diversity Web team is excited to announce ADW Pocket Guides! Pocket Guides leverage the power and reliability of ADW's extensive animal database to create attractive, customized mobile applications that engage and inform visitors at natural areas anywhere. With just a list of species, we can automatically generate a guide to the wildlife of a park, museum, zoo, or any natural area, including a rich media library. Information on the natural area is included and can be illustrated with images and maps. Pocket Guide "Trails" can be designed to support interpretation, education, and outreach goals, such as interpretive trails, habitat explorations, ecological interactions, or virtual tours.
This mobile app development marks a transition of the Animal Diversity Web from a grant-funded university project to a self-sustaining social and educational enterprise. The ADW project has been fortunate to receive generous support from the National Science Foundation since 2000 for a variety of education research projects. As a result, the ADW grew from a small, innovative natural history database and online encyclopedia to one of the most widely used and reputable animal diversity resources online globally. ADW serves 2 million pages to 500,000 site visitors monthly from nearly every country in the world. ADW has over 6,300 species in the database and continues to grow rapidly through student contributions that promote literature synthesis and writing in the discipline experiences for students across North America. Our audience is largely educational, with 70% of visitors coming as part of a formal or informal learning experience.
A hallmark of the ADW since its founding in 1995 is its leadership in structuring data for re-purposing and innovative uses. Although ADW pages are rendered as web pages, they are actually put together dynamically from the database through a scientific name, such as that of a species. The result of this structured format is that we can re-purpose and re-present the data in many ways. Our earliest experiment with this was the BioKIDS site, a version of the Animal Diversity Web that focuses on North American animals and presents information in a kid-friendly context. We then used the data structure to design a querying mechanism that allows students to ask and answer scientific questions using real data, our Quaardvark project. ADW's Quaardvark querying is now used by dozens of biology courses and hundreds of students. It is one of the few ways that biology students can dynamically interact with real data in an accessible format to test hypotheses about evolution, ecology, and natural history in classrooms.
The development of our mobile application represents another innovative use of our exceptional, structured database. We've created a framework that dynamically extracts data from the Animal Diversity Web into an attractive and professional mobile app (Pocket Guide) that is completely customizable to an area (such as a park) or purpose (such as a biology curriculum). This includes customization of all content, media galleries, reading levels, and providing data specific to the area or purpose. We think this approach will transform opportunities for engaging people with nature and we are gearing up to explore those opportunities thoroughly!
Contact us at ADW.Staff@umich.edu to learn about creating a mobile Pocket Guide for your park, museum, zoo, natural area, visitor center, school district, or backyard. We've created a framework that makes the production of these customized mobile pocket guides simple and affordable. In addition to providing them with a resource that they can use for an enormous variety of educational purposes, we share revenue with organizations that partner with us to create and promote Pocket Guides for their area.
We are also looking for partners and sponsors to support our continuing efforts to provide excellent information and educational experiences to people worldwide. Contact our business director, Tanya Dewey (firstname.lastname@example.org) to sponsor the site or invest in our new efforts to improve engaging people with natural areas through our innovative mobile app framework. We will happily share our business plan and financial statements with interested parties.