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VOLUME 15 TEACHING ISSUES AND EXPERIMENTS IN ECOLOGY
PRACTICE

Visualizing a Disease Outbreak Using ESRI Story Maps

Sneezing is a form of direct disease transmission via droplet spread. By James Gathany (CDC Public Health Image library ID 11162) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

AUTHOR

Sophie T. Breitbart1 and Emily Weigel2

1Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3B2, Canada

2Department of Biological Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332

Corresponding author: Sophie T. Breitbart (sophie.breitbart@mail.utoronto.ca)


THE ECOLOGICAL QUESTION

How can we harness geographic information systems (GIS) to understand how the magnitude and spatial distribution of disease changes over time?

ECOLOGICAL CONTENT

Disease ecology, viral infections, spatio-temporal spread of disease, geographic information systems (GIS), epidemiology

WHAT STUDENTS DO

Students transform tabular epidemiological data into a series of dynamic maps to narrate a disease outbreak spatially and verbally.

SKILLS

  • Format, clean, manipulate with functions, and practice quality control of raw data
  • Create ESRI Story Map and learn basic GIS skills to organize spatio-temporal data
  • Synthesize principles of disease ecology to analyze and predict areas of high risk to public health
  • Practice clear communication of scientific data by developing and justifying strategy to handle outbreak

STUDENT-ACTIVE APPROACHES

Brainstorming, Think-pair-share, Group work, Student presentation

ASSESSABLE OUTCOMES

At the end of this activity, students will demonstrate their ability to understand basic principles of disease transmission, convey real epidemiological data as visual stories, and develop a plan to handle a “real” outbreak. Instructors may evaluate students’ knowledge and comprehension of the basic principles of disease transmission by analyzing how students’ initial and final hypotheses changed throughout the exercise, as well as by assessing the introductory section of their presentations. Students will demonstrate their ability to apply their understanding of disease ecology to a real situation by reporting how an outbreak evolved over time, expressed through dynamic maps in their presentations. Instructors may assess the students’ presentations for both Story Map accuracy and ability to synthesize information in order to create a plan to handle the outbreak. The “Guidelines for Student Assessment” in the Faculty Notes section explicitly link the initial skills outcomes with the learning objectives by providing several ways for students to demonstrate their learning of the skills.

SOURCES

DOWNLOADS

Description of Resource Files:

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We would like to thank Georgia Tech Stamps Health Services for the dataset that inspired this lab and the QUBES network for valuable feedback on its design. We thank Mitchell Irving, Lindsay S. Miles, Samreen Munim, Madeleine Oman, and Felipe Torres Vanegas, as well as our many students for their feedback on the lab.

CITATION

Sophie T. Breitbart and Emily Weigel. February 2019, posting date. Visualizing a Disease Outbreak Using ESRI Story Maps. Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology, Vol. 15: Practice #1 [online]. http://tiee.esa.org/vol/v15/issues/data_sets/breitbart/abstract.html