Botanic Gardens Conservation International
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Summary of BGCI's survey of its education materials

BGCI education – your views!

BGCI education department decided last year that it was time we practiced what we preached and carried out some formative evaluation of our resources.  With the 6th International Congress on Education in Botanic Gardens bringing hundreds of our colleagues from around the world together we couldn’t think of a better time to get your opinions down on paper.  A massive thank you to everyone who completed the forms at the congress and on the International Diploma in Education Botanic Gardens (run at Kew in October and November 2006), and to those who returned one of the forms sent out with the last issue of Roots.  We appreciate your input and can assure you that your responses, comments and ideas are feeding directly into our planning for the next couple of years.

What did we find out from you?                                              What are we going to do about it?

You read Roots
Happily, there is a high level of readership of Roots – with 87% of people either reading selected articles or reading Roots cover to cover.  96% of users usually read the editorial and everyone reads at least one article in Roots, with ¾ of users reading 3–7 articles on average per issue.  The resources section is also popular with 82% of people always or sometimes reading it.  Interestingly only 1/3 of readers sometimes obtain hardcopies of the recommended resources, whereas 2/3 of readers (always/sometimes) access the recommended websites. Due to this we will be increasing the number of online resources we include in the resource section; if you have any ideas, do get in touch.

Roots is useful
Roots readers find the articles the most useful (50%), followed by the whole of the journal (22%), then the resources section (17%), then the editorial (6%). This does indicate overwhelmingly that readers find Roots supports their work.  Importantly, 84% of respondents said they found the different language sections useful – indicating that we should continue with our trilingual editorial, summaries and resources section.

You want to get involved!
Over half of the respondents offered to contribute an article.  We have your details and will contact you in due course.  One suggestion was that we should make forthcoming themes more widely known (e.g. through the website, or given more prominence in Roots) so that potential authors can offer to share their experiences on the subject.  We will do this through the website, and remember if you have any news or ideas that could fit into Roots do let us know.

You want more practical ideas
On the whole, respondents think we have a good mix of content in Roots – they want to keep the amount of theory and research, external contributions and contributions from botanic garden colleagues the same.  What you want is more practical ideas.  As so many of you offered to provide articles for Roots we will follow this up and pick your brains for your favourite practical activities.

Sustainability is the top issue
There were a huge number of responses to the question about what themes you want the next few issues of Roots to cover.  The top five were: Education for Sustainability – focus on water; Marketing your Education Programmes; Interpretation; Working with School Gardens; Volunteers.  We will focus on these issues over the next few issues – keep an eye out for the topics you voted for.  We will also provide material on the other themes you selected and include this on the website. 

You enjoy surfing the web!
Your feedback on the website has been particularly useful, nearly 3/4 of you have accessed it, which is very encouraging.  Your ideas for improvements are excellent and we have been implementing some of them already.  For example, we have just loaded over 300 case studies from back issues of Roots and congress proceedings onto the website.  As requested by many of you, we are currently working on the resource section of the website and this should be ready soon.

Future developments
You gave us ideas about Cuttings, the BGCI newsletter, how many of you receive it and read it and what format you would like it in, which again will feed into BGCI’s planning

You were also very supportive of the ideas we have about creating an international e-newsletter and an on-line distance learning programme for education in botanic gardens.  Because of this we have submitted funding proposals and hope to be able to take these projects forward, we will keep you updated!

So thank you again, and if you have any other comments, queries or suggestions for us please do get in touch,

Article taken from Roots 4:1 ‘Linnaeus – still relevant 300 years on?’  Subscribe now to make sure you receive Roots, the botanic garden education review.

Click here to access the PDF of the full survey report.