Practice Makes Perfect: A Biodeterioration Diagnostics Database that Makes Practice
J S Schilling
Replacement of bio-based materials deteriorated by pests costs billions annually and wastes natural resources. Wood replacement rates have remained relatively stable despite significant advances in wood preservation. This may be explained, in part, by poor end-use by uninformed users and by inadequate pest management once products are in service. This problem may be exacerbated by two opposing facts: 1) bio-based products are diversifying, leading to novel issues and a wider array of problems, and 2) students and professionals in biodeterioration fields rely primarily on hands-on diagnostics experience. This experience accumulates slowly for most, especially those who are not yet called upon as experts. There is a growing knowledge gap. I am developing a biodeterioration database as one potential technology-enhanced solution, aiming to create a continuously-updated teaching tool for students and to give diagnostics practice to professionals, including young faculty. The Biodeterioration Diagnostics Database (the ‘Rot Bot’) acts as an online compendium of real-world biodeterioration case studies and was built using a web-based wiki prototype. Unlike an operable wiki site, however, the database allows for a review process both to provide control by the site manager and to give contributors an incentive with an authored, printable, and citable document. The working database design, with tables and relationships, is constructed first (back-end forward approach). The web front-end is created second with optimization of site navigation via PHP scripts (11 total scripts). An image upload feature to standardize pixel size is set up, along with an automatic email notification when new contributions are made. The site is housed on the University of Minnesota server, and is intended for international users to share case studies, to learn, and to strengthen the expertise within our field of wood protection.
Keywords: technology, social learning, teaching, biodegradation, IPM