WILDLABS is celebrating its five year anniversary! Throughout the rest of 2020, we'll be sharing articles, community features, and case studies showcasing the incredible projects, collaborations, and successes that this community has seen over the years.
Today, we'd like to share this guide to getting the most out of our Tech Tutors series, launching its second season this December!
We spoke with Wildlabber and Tech Tutors participant Carly Batist about what she learned from attending every episode of Season One, the collaborations she joined because of Tech Tutors, and how you can get the full Tech Tutors experience on WILDLABS!
The WILDLABS platform is built on a core belief that the conservation technology community is strongest when we come together to collaborate, share, and innovate as a diverse and global team. When we created season one of Tech Tutors, our virtual tutorial and Q&A series focused on answering the “How do I do that?” questions of conservation tech, we aimed to bring new skills and resources to community members, allowing you to explore new possibilities, learn from each other, and find new ways to engage here on WILDLABS.
Over the course of 9 great episodes featuring 12 expert Tutors, we welcomed participants from 77 countries around the world! And as the series carried on, we were blown away by the incredible collaborations and new projects that kicked off because of Tech Tutors! You can read about some of the season highlights and ongoing collaborations in our Tech Tutors Review Session.
On December 3rd, we’re excited to bring you Tech Tutors Season 2, a further exploration of conservation tech’s big questions for beginners of all skill levels! Over the next three months, we’ll bring together experts to instruct us in tech topics like remote sensing, drone usage, machine learning, and LoRa, as well as presentations on how to use your #tech4wildlife knowledge in practical collaborations and community-based projects!
To prepare for this season, the WILDLABS team has been thinking hard about how we can help you get the most out of Tech Tutors, and how this series can help you find your place in the community! We talked to Wildlabber (and Tech Tutors super fan) Carly Batist about her experiences attending every episode of season one, and about the many collaborations and connections she discovered throughout the series. Read on for her advice about getting the full WILDLABS and Tech Tutors experience.
Embrace What You Already Know….
While Tech Tutors was originally dreamed up as a way for beginners to learn the basics of brand-new skills, we came to realize throughout the first season that anyone, regardless of skill level, can be a beginner! Even conservation tech experts have areas where they could strengthen their skills, or find a new perspective to apply to their projects. If you’re already strong in, for example, machine learning, you never know what fresh ideas you might find simply from hearing someone explain the possibilities of getting started with this tech from a different angle, or from chatting with others in the community about their own machine learning experiences in the episode chat!
Carly attended every episode of Tech Tutors’ first season, even on subjects she was already familiar with, and gives our community this advice: “Even if you think you have nothing to gain from that episode, either because you already know all about this subject, or because you’re not planning to use that type of tech, you will always leave with some idea or connection or nugget of information that could lead to something else entirely.
"...Sometimes that happens by letting yourself feel like a beginner for the day.”
I went to every Tech Tutors episode and only three of them were directly related to my actual research, but you never know what you’re going to get from it! I have always taken something out of everything I’ve done in WILDLABS, and Tech Tutors was a super-charged way of making those connections and hearing other people’s perspectives and questions in a fast format. You get to know these people over time just by attending these episodes, and it starts to feel familiar, and that lets you open up to discussing totally new ideas.
Just make the time and go if you can! And keep your mind open to the fact that you can learn something new about a subject you’re already familiar with, and sometimes that happens by letting yourself feel like a beginner for the day.”
And What You Don’t Know!
Likewise, Tech Tutors is very much designed to let you expand your tech horizons and explore your options in a supportive, low pressure community environment. The old classroom phrase “There are no dumb questions” is true for our tutorial Q&As - we encourage you to bring your curiosity to these subjects regardless of your experience or previous knowledge!
While these tutorials are excellent tools for those of you who want to learn about topics that fit into your immediately practical purposes, like repairing your camera trap or applying machine learning to your current camera trap project, they’re just as handy for exploring possibilities that you may not even realize yet! You may not see how something like portable genomics or VHF tracking with drones could apply to your current work, but you also never know what collaborative ideas these tutorials might spark in your imagination, or who you’ll meet along the way who might have a need for your skills!
“You never know who you’re going to cross paths with,” says Carly, “and you never know what’ll come out of those connections, even if it’s not directly related to your research. If you’re attending an episode for a technology topic that you think you’ll never use, you’re still gaining an understanding of what’s out there. And someone else might have an idea on how it could potentially apply to your research, or how your work could apply to theirs.
Or maybe you leave with a new perspective on the workflows and the processes behind other peoples’ projects, ideas that are universal and can be applied to whatever you’re working on.
There’s much more to it than just learning one new skill and going on your way. It really is about this network of trading ideas and skills, and finding where everyone fits into the bigger picture.”
Connect Beyond the Tutorials
Every episode of Tech Tutors has a live chat where participants are encouraged to share a bit about their #tech4wildlife experience, in the hopes that members will find new collaborators, mentors, or friends.
To get the full experience and make the most of the Tech Tutors network, we encourage you to use tools like the collaborative docs accompanying each episode, and the WILDLABS Tech Tutors forum threads that correspond to each episode, to keep track of the people you meet, ask further questions, and explore the resources shared by each other!
I've been working on an easier way to apply #MegaDetector to #cameratrap images to help filter out the empty images. Check out this @GoogleColab notebook that I worked on with @yangsiyu_ and released today on their github repo.— Al Stewart (@alsnothome) July 1, 2020
Thanks @WILDLABSNET @sarameghanbeery https://t.co/ctVUulCavD
Many of last season’s spontaneous connections in the live chat led to ongoing collaborations, including Carly’s! By discussing their interests or finding common connections between their work and social networks, Carly became involved in the creation of a Master’s project using her “bycatch data” from her research, multiple research papers, discussions surrounding a potential primate acoustics consortium, and even a possible team-up between Carly and our Tech Tutor Dan Situnayake (returning in season 2 for a second episode!), a big lemur fan who reached out to her about collaborating after she mentioned researching lemurs in his episode’s live chat!
“Don’t be afraid to reach out to people!” Carly tells us, “I have never come across someone who said no when I asked them to collaborate or help me with something. And on the other hand, you should also be open to the idea that someone might be looking for your help, and the idea that you have more to contribute to conservation tech than the things you work on in your own bubble.
"...Be a master in your area of expertise, but part of a team that, together, is a jack of all trades."
That’s the great thing about this community - everyone really wants to work together, and Tech Tutors is a great way to get to know people who you otherwise may never meet, who all have something to offer to each other! If you’re thinking of these episodes as a one-time event, you’re missing out on a deeper layer.”
Carly finds it helpful to think of Tech Tutors and its accompanying resources, chats, and forum threads as an entry point to overcome any knowledge barriers you may face, all with the support of a team. “We all want to be jack of all trades, master of none, and it’s great to expand your own skills! But what you should also be aiming for is to be a master in your area of expertise, but part of a team that, together, is a jack of all trades. In this community, we have many masters and many jacks. The trick is in building that team through learning new skills and building a place where all of our skills fit together.”
Use Your Resources
Lastly, but certainly not least, make sure you make the most of the additional resources that come along with the Tech Tutors program!
Many resources are shared by our Tutors themselves on each episodes’ WILDLABS page, and by participants in the collaborative documents compiled during episodes and shared afterwards (you can find both of these things by clicking episode titles on our pages for seasons one and two). There are also, of course, the aforementioned Tech Tutors forum, where you can connect with what Carly calls “the ultimate hive mind” of conservation technology.
But beyond the episodes themselves, WILDLABS also shares content like case studies, interviews, training and career opportunities, and more in our Resources tab. This season, we’ll be compiling content from other experts in our tutorial’s subjects, to bring you a wider, fuller perspective on the technologies and community-based ideas covered by our Tutors. By the end of season 2, you’ll have a web of resources available to you, allowing you to branch out in new directions based on the skills and projects you’d like to explore further.
To get the most out of WILDLABS' content, Carly recommends making the platform itself part of your regular working routine. “I bookmark the WILDLABS Resource page and check it every morning so I’m not missing anything, and it doesn’t feel so overwhelming to take in massive amounts of information. I take a couple minutes out of every day to check - just five minutes each day to stay on top of an influx of information, and see if there are new resources I want to read later, or chats happening that I can contribute to. Make it a routine, and you’ll feel very in touch with what’s happening throughout the community.”
To find more ways of fitting the WILDLABS community into your routine, check out our Getting Started in the WILDLABS Community guide.
See You in Season 2!
We hope you’re just as excited as we are to dive into Tech Tutors Season 2! Whether you were a regular participant last time around, or you’re new to the Tech Tutors family, we hope you’ll find something in this season that will spark your interest and bring you closer to the #tech4wildlife community!
Check out the full season lineup here (and bookmark that page for continuous updates and links to new episode pages), and make sure you’re subscribed to the WILDLABS community mailing list to get updates on upcoming episode registrations as they go live!
Find every Tech Tutor episode's Q&A thread and resources in our forum!