Cynthia Cudaback
Oceanographer & Marine Educator
Home Science Education Policy

Bootkext: An educational resource for Ocean Literacy

© 2008 Cynthia Cudaback
Philosophy Global Issues, Personal Action Regional Issues, Community Action


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.