Evolutionary Biology - Fall 2013

Welcome to the BIOL/GENE 3000 wiki.

For more information about the course see the Syllabus.

The class website starts with What is Evolution?

REMINDER - Include your thoughts about the class wiki in the course evaluations!

You also may want to look at these additional resources, posted to help clarify some of the concepts discussed in this class. There is also a link to all of the Wiki Pages that you've created. Keep this up-to-date to make your lives easier! Please make an effort to tag pages extensively; especially with tags other than evolution.

PLEASE READ: Commenting on the wiki pages do not count as participation credit on the wiki. The directions in the syllabus are clear on what does count as participation, and we will continue to follow these criteria.

spiny-rayed fish phylogeny, image by Ron Eytan
spiny-rayed fish phylogeny, image by Ron Eytan

Why does this class have a wiki?

Look around. There are too many people to effectively discuss things in class. It is difficult to find ways to work as a community on learning a topic as complicated as evolution. What you will be doing this semester is using this webpage to review, reinterpret, and redirect the material presented in lecture so that you - as a class - have a single place to go to learn and explore the material more deeply, and can actually adjust the content of the course to fit your interests.

How can we, the students, direct what content we are learning?

Dr. Wares will be lecturing based on the textbook (Zimmer and Emlen 2012), augmenting this information with his own experience and interests. The idea is that you can learn more if you try to re-state what is in the lecture, using resources from the web, your textbook, etc. or your own summarization. More importantly, the class will find a tremendous number of published papers, summaries, websites, wikipedia entries, etc. if they search for a given topic (e.g. Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium) as it relates to something more interesting TO YOU (e.g. human mating behavior). Your interests as a class can direct how evolutionary biology is presented on this website. If sufficient input is put into the website, then, Dr. Wares will use the wiki pages as the resource for some or all of the exam questions. That means that you would be selecting at least some of the material on which you will be graded.

How will this work?

This is experimental. I don't know anybody who has tried this. There is not an easy way to grade the effort of 160 or more students on something like a wiki, because sometimes your contribution will be major, perhaps expanding a definition or linking out to useful web resources, and sometimes it will be less major, cleaning up or reorganizing text. Think this won't work? Well, Wikipedia is nothing but a self-organized information dump from many thousands of users; it is very useful to most of us. And your own classmates generated an amazing website in the GENE 3000H Evolution class in Fall 2012, with only 14 students.

What we will try is to have you agree to make 2-3 updates each week: one after each lecture, and another some time during the week. Your TAs in the Discussion section will help show you how to do this, and how to log your updates and ensure this participation is recorded as part of your participation grade (20% of total points). So now by participating, simply putting forth the effort to explain and organize what we are learning, you get some easy points toward your grade - and you help determine what information you will be tested on!

If very little is put on the website, of course Dr. Wares has plenty of material from the textbook, and that's fine: that is the way things have been working for many years. However, if you want to set the course of your own education, thus making the material more germaine to your life, this is your opportunity. You can interact more with fellow students; it is important to recognize that you aren't each setting up little web territories and summarizing what you know. That is boring. You will be modifying each others work, editing it, linking to pages others create, finding information on the web, videos, papers, images. This is what wikis are for!

Does this mean that you will be putting yourself in the situation of having twice as much material to study for? Not necessarily. First of all, if you add to or study the wiki, the material on there is a reflection of the same principles and mechanisms we will talk about in class. I may lecture on mutational diversity in HIV, and somebody may get interested in the evolution of influenza and post that on the wiki, but both are about changes in allele frequency through time. Second, if you are more engaged in this material, you are learning it better anyway. Please note the exams are not meant to be about trivia, but about general principles and concepts. Also be aware that - like Wikipedia - I cannot assure 100% truth on the resource you, the class, are generating. If an idea or fact is not referenced, it is up to you to figure out if it is supported by evidence (and provide that evidence to the rest of us). Your participation in the class wiki may just be cleaning up after a previous writer: fixing grammar, providing references, or reorganization.

How do we start?

Dr. Wares will try not to contribute anything to the main wiki that you, the class, will develop (however, he will probably post news and other information on the blog associated with the class). You will start with the page "What is evolution?" and use your ideas on related topics, organizing principles, and so forth to create a resource that all of you can use! We may choose a short list of topics to focus on, to help you start your search (for example, evolution + agriculture, evolution + medicine, evolution + mate choice, evolution + conservation).

Please note: we can see the user ID of anybody who edits the page. No graffiti, spam, or indecent/inappropriate material. Always cite the source of your information, in accordance with the University Honesty Code. Be respectful of what others are trying to do, be respectful with your comments and questions. But hopefully: have fun. Learn a little bit more than you expect to. And then, you might end up teaching somebody something they haven't heard of before.

For more information about using the wiki, click Help (further information appears on any new page). On some mobile browsers (e.g. Safari on iOS), it is not possible to edit the wiki. In order to bypass this, you will need to use a browser that can set its "user agent" so it appears to be a desktop browser. Mercury is a good option on iOS and lets you change the user agent easily. On Android, both Chrome and Firefox allow you to edit the wiki without modifying any settings.