by Jessica Roberts, postdoctoral research fellow, CMU
After several months of development and redesign in response to feedback from user testing on the demonstration version of the site, we have begun testing the alpha version of the expanded macroinvertebrates.org.
On July 21 we traveled to Maryland where our partners at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources hosted an introduction to benthic macroinvertebrates training. Participants gathered at the science lab of a local community college to learn about and practice identifying some of the most common orders in the area.
Trainers Dan and Sara introduced participants to the website as they practiced noticing key diagnostic characters on preserved and live specimens.
They also used the site to identify a "mystery specimen" in an unmarked vial.
Though it was pouring rain, some intrepid participants went down to the stream to try their hand at sampling and sorting specimens streamside.
We were able to observe participants using macro.org individually and in groups as they learned about the common macroinvertebrates in their area. Through thinkaloud interviews, an identification quiz, and focus group feedback we were able to take away key insights for how we can continue improving the site to work for a variety of users.
An interdisciplinary team