Bootkext: An educational resource for Ocean Literacy
© 2008 Cynthia Cudaback
You are accessing a new type of educational resource, designed to promote ocean literacy. Ocean
Literacy has been defined as the ability to understand ocean science, communicate
clearly about the ocean and make informed decisions that affect the ocean. My research with
college students reveals that they connect with the ocean on a deep personal level, and are very
concerned about environmental issues. They are especially interested in learning about human impacts on
coasts of their home states.
Catching students' attention is the first step to promoting understanding; the regional
issues discussed here have generated quite a bit of buzz among my students. In-class discussions and
daily writing assginments promote students ability to communicate; discussion prompts are
scattered throughout this resource.
This resource addresses two aspects of decision-making, on the personal and community level. To
make a personal decision, such as recycling or driving less, some students need only be told that these
simple actions can make a difference. I have developed an exercise in which students access the suggestions of
various conservation organizations and consider which actions they personally might take. These small personal
steps can be taken by anyone in the world, and are therfore presented in the same section as discussions of
global issues. Making a community decision, such as whether to upgrade a sewage treatment plant or change
coastal development zoning laws, requires more in-depth study. Students need complete information
about the issue, and a chance to reflect on their own priorities and decision making-process. The case study
of sewage transport and treatment in Huntington Beach, California is the best example of this process.
Why "bootkext"? This resource turns the concept of the textbook inside-out (as the word "bootkext" turns the
word "textbook" inside out. Where a textbook is a heavy physical object, rather rigid, information-driven, and
based on global oceanography, a bootkext is electronic, flexible inquiry-driven and
based on regional oceanography and local human impacts. In a standard textbook, the last chapter may cover
human impacts, but most courses never get that far. The bootkext encourages study of regional and global
issues, and is intended to supplement a standard textbook.