Guidelines for Instructors

Thanks for your interest in using the Animal Diversity Web in your course. Student contributions are essential to the success and richness of this natural history database. Students at institutions across the country, and in other parts of the world, contribute species accounts to this database each term.

Beginning in winter 2004 the Animal Diversity Web team is proud to unveil our new, greatly expanded and documented species account template. This new template includes an expanded set of data sections to better document features of life history, a set of checkboxes that provides an important set of search terms for data mining, automatic linking to a large glossary, and a fully linked set of contributor guidelines to support the account writing process. We believe this new template facilitates student understanding of variation in life history traits, and the creation of rich, complete natural history accounts. Please consider using the species account creation process as a valuable learning tool in your course!

Once you communicate your interest in participation to Animal Diversity Web staff we will create a course workspace for you. In this workspace your students can select species to research and you can post messages to workspace members. From your course workspace you will be able to find all of the support resources designed to facilitate student account writing.

Before talking with your students, please carefully review these instructions, as well as the contributor guidelines.

Request that students in your course contribute ADW accounts

If you are teaching a course and would like your students to be able to contribute species account narratives, please fill out this request form. We may need to limit participation in order to manage the anticipated flow of information into the site. You must be willing and able to edit online all of the narratives your students generate. We reserve the right to make final editorial changes and publishing decisions.

Please visit some examples of good species accounts to better understand what the expectations are:

Set up your course page

We will set up your course page for you using the information you give us in the request form and contact you via email to let you and your students know how to access it.

Using your ADW course workspace

Log in using the name and password we have given you. If you run into any problems, check your browser preferences to make sure you can accept cookies.

You can post discussion items to individual accounts to communicate directly (and privately) with the student account authors.

Make sure that the species your students have reserved are appropriate for your course. We don't yet have authority lists for all animals, so our system may allow a student to sign up for a species with an incorrect spelling or a name that is no longer accepted. Please help us keep the Animal Diversity Web “zoo” tidy by notifying students about such erroneous or misspelled names.

You will need to make sure that students sign up for species and submit accounts according to whatever deadlines you have set. Remember, you can post Zoo News to remind them of deadlines.

Request overrides to allow students to rewrite a preexisting species narrative

While some of our existing accounts could be improved, we prefer that students either write accounts on species new to ADW or choose from our wish list, which includes accounts we've decided are in need of revision. Occasionally, we may be able to accommodate students who wish to rewrite an account that we already have (and which is not on the wish list).

You should decide in advance whether you would allow your students to rewrite existing species narratives. Keep in mind that they will have a head start by using the existing narrative and its references. The final account would most likely be co-authored. If you are willing to allow students to rewrite existing narratives, examine the specific narrative your student wishes to rewrite. If you agree that it needs serious revision, contact the Zookeeper to request an override for that species. Give us the species name and the name of the student so we can arrange the signup.

Review each narrative and suggest changes to students

Keep in mind that you need to do the best job you can to help the student write a publishable account. Your name will appear as editor.

This is where you'll need to pay attention to our contributor guidelines and our instructions for editors. It is very important that students carefully follow the directions found in the contributor guidelines if they hope to have their account published. It is especially important to enter information into every text section, completely review available keywords, and fully reference information using the reference selection tools within each life history section. The ultimate goal is to assist students in fully describing species biology.

You may ask your students to submit printed copies of their narratives and make any suggested changes and assign grades on those printed copies. We also give you the option of working with submitted narratives online from your workspace. Click on the name of the narrative to see various options. You may print the narrative yourself by selecting the Print option. By selecting the discussion button, you may suggest changes or indicate a grade online. You may also directly make changes to the narrative when it is in your workspace.

To release the narrative back to your student, choose the Return to Student option.

Approve changes and submit to zookeeper

Once all the changes have been made to a narrative by yourself and your student, and you feel it is suitable for publishing on our website, change the status of the account to "pending" using the workflow tab. We will do a final edit and publish the account if it passes our editorial review.

If you do not change the workflow status of the accounts in your course workspace within 4 weeks after your course ends we will release the lock on the species name and allow other students to sign up for the species. Yes, that means your student's narrative will be lost!

If you need help

If you or your students have questions about how to submit narratives, or if you are uncertain about the status of a particular narrative, please use the link in the Help box on the upper left of the Workspaces page to contact ADW staff.