Jon Houseman has taught descriptive courses in Biodiversity at the University of Ottawa for over 25 years. He is among the few that can be described as a pioneer in teaching. His accomplishments parallel the emergence of e-learning and the Internet. Far from fad, he is strongly engaged in finding the best solutions to instructional challenges in Biology. His excellence in teaching and an early recognition for the powers of computing and new technologies in teaching has resulted in his unique transformative vision; a vision that has had an impact beyond his classroom at the University of Ottawa extending around the world. His digital photos were downloaded 1.5 million times in four years by the 6,000 BIODIDAC registered users who teach courses with a combined enrolment of over 9 million students.
Jon teaches descriptive biology and he argues that students have become increasingly isolated from a natural world they may no longer be capable of effectively studying. Jon's digital teaching materials have given his students the chance to understand the discipline and explore the natural world in the lab or online. His innovate use of digital cameras allows his students to photograph rather than draw the specimens under the microscope. Jon's Digital Diversity, an online digital atlas and textbook includes specimens similar to those the students dissect in the laboratory allowing for easy comparisons and understanding during the lab and in the lecture hall. Jon's story continues with the ongoing search, not for perfection, but for the next step in the development of a technology that will enhance the quality of student learning. More, Jon's life work is dedicated to the continuing inter-dependence of what he calls the triad of teacher, learner, and world observed.
His excellence in teaching has been recognized at the University of Ottawa, Provincial and National levels; including the prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship and the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association Teaching Award.