Characterizing Complex Marine Systems and Technology Using Visualized Vocabularies

TitleCharacterizing Complex Marine Systems and Technology Using Visualized Vocabularies
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsdeCharon, A, Smith, LM, Companion, C
JournalMarine Technology Society Journal
Type of ArticleJournal Article
Keywordsmarine technology, ocean observing, ontology, vocabulary

The next decade will usher in significant changes in ocean observational infrastructure and how students engage with marine sciences content. Faced with the challenge of helping undergraduate students make sense of very complicated marine systems, a computer sciences-based organizational structure (i.e., ontology) has been employed to characterize the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). Five interlinked vocabularies that include terms, descriptions, and images define the overall system from high-level science themes to specialized data products. Given the importance of visual representations in learning, particularly for novices, an associated interactive tool called the “Vocabulary Navigator” has been developed. Created in tandem, the design of the vocabularies and their visualizer is based on principles related to the needs of the target audience such as placing information in a broader context and promoting self-directed discovery. Overall, this effort has resulted in not only innovative online resources for learning about the OOI but also, perhaps more importantly, valuable “lessons learned” and transferable software that could be used by other marine technology endeavors.