Biodiversity Conservation Society Sarawak
Pertubuhan Konservasi Biodiversiti Sarawak

bcss wildlife stats trainers area

Workshops planned for 2020

January 12-23 - UNIMAS, Kuching - registration open.

February 3-14 - Sunway University, Kuala Lumpur - registration open.

March - Cebu, Philippines - tentative

April - Bogor, Indonesia - tentative

June - Thailand, JAGS workshop - funding applied for

July - Bangladesh - tentative

August - Suranaree University of Technology, Thailand - regular!

September - Bhutan -confirmed.

Who has helped with workshops since the Elf Camp?

Codes are date (YYMM) and location, see Past Workshops for details.

Participants in the Sept 2019 Elf Camp:

  • Tashi: 1909 Bhutan
  • Sherub: 1909 Bhutan
  • Lungten: 1909 Bhutan
  • Ugyen: 1909 Bhutan
  • Yadav:
  • Ngwe:
  • Yan Ru:

Participants in the Jan 2018 Elf Camp:

  • Chee Pheng: 1803 JAGS@KL, 1803 Data@KL, 1803 GIS@KL, 1806 Kuching
  • Colin: 1806 Kuching, 1808 SUT, 1907 Mandalay, 1908 SUT
  • Jeevan: 1808 SUT, 1810 Nepal
  • Shyamala: 1801 Sunway, 1808 SUT
  • Wee: 1801 Sunway, 1901 Sunway
  • Areth: 1801 Sunway
  • Chris: 1801 Sunway, 1901 Sunway
  • Pang: 1806 Kuching, 1901 Sunway
  • Sheema:
  • Suprio:
  • Ratana:
  • Reuben:

Participants in the Dec 2015 Elf Camp (post Jan 2018 in red).:

  • Fen: 1601 RRI, 1603 GIS@PJ, 1607 GIS@KMUTT, 1609 Bhutan, 1803 GIS@KL
  • Sylvia: 1604 Baluran, 1611 Kuching
  • Lukmann ("Bob"): 1607 NUS, 1707 JAGS@KMUTT, 1709 Bhutan, 1809 JAGS@Bhutan, 1908 SUT
  • Dusit ("Soy"): 1607 Graphs@KMUTT, 1610 Jogjakarta, 1703 XTBG, 1707 JAGS@KMUTT, 1808 SUT, 1907 Manadalay
  • Win Sim: 1612 RRI, 1703 XTBG, 1810 Sims@NUS, 1901 Sunway
  • Elan: 1612 RRI, 1801 Sunway, 1901 Sunway
  • Akchou: 1708 SUT
  • Sri: 1712 Kuching
  • June: 1607 GIS@KMUTT
  • Ange:
  • Wai Yee:
  • Horng:
  • Boon:

Alumni of previous Elf Camps who are still active:

  • Ngumbang: all of them! (That's his day job.)
  • Joshua: 1302 KCH, 1303 Sims@KL, 1402 Bayes@KL, 1306 VTE, 1408 SCB, 1503 ATBC, 1806 Kuching

Trainers workshop, Bhutan, 17-22 September 2019

We are expanding into South Asia and in particular Bhutan has funding for workshops for several years, so this Elf Camp targeted potential elves in S Asia. Unfortunately, only seven of the invitees could attend; several had to drop out because of health issues - their own or close family.

We had 4 participants from Bhutan and folks from Nepal, Myanmar and Singapore. Four of the newly-minted instructors helped with the Bhutan Boot Camp.

The outline of the workshop was similar to previous editions, with lots of emphasis on learning principles. But it continues to evolve, and this time the teaching practice sessions led to more emphasis on the practical aspects of facilitation and the instructor as a performer.

Trainers workshop, KL, 9-13 January 2018

We held another "Elf Camp" in Jan 2018 with Ian Signer as the lead facilitator. See photo here.

We followed the same format at in 2015: learning principles, a framework for assessing lessons, and facilitating techniques in the first two days, then participants practicing lessons in the last three days.

Twelve participants came, most from Malaysia but with folk from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal and Thailand (see the new additions to Who We Are), so we are moving further towards an international instructor team.

The Elf Camp was followed by the Boot Camp at Sunway University (15-26 January), and four of the Elf Camp alumni - and Ian - stayed on to help with the Boot Camp, and to look critically at ways to improve our teaching.

Strategies for the future

Towards the end of the 2015 Elf Camp we had an open discussion on future strategies of the Boot Camp, in the context of increased demand from potential participants. (We had done 5 Boot Camps in the previous 12 months.)

Some of the main points from the discussion were:

  • Aim to develop "satellite" teams of elves in each country in the region, eg, Lao-Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia.
  • Need for quality control: participation of "HQ" in all Boot Camps; exchange of elves between countries; centralised elf training (plus feedback from satellite teams); don't expand too quickly; limit participants to 20 to 24; provide more documentation (Green Cards are good prompt, but more background needed); elves meet for ~2 days before Boot Camp to review material.
  • Funding needed for regular elf training and support, cost should not be passed on to participants.
  • Filtering participants: Main target for Boot Camps is young researchers actually doing wildlife research; many postgrads fall into this category. Current methods seem to work pretty well, though we have less control over workshops outside Malaysia.
  • Credibility issues (ie, phasing out the white-beard): Profiles of elves on the web; emphasis on team rather than 'guru'; having a "driving licence" scheme [in Malaysia we have 'L' then 'P' then full licence, something like bronze-silver-gold may be better internationally].
  • Online versions of Boot Camp discussed briefly, but it's popular because it's hands on. Also lots of resources online already.

Trainers workshop, KL, 7-11 December 2015

We had 12 participants for the 5-day "Elf Camp" plus Ian Signer, Ngumbang and Mike as facilitators. See photo here.

The first 2 days were devoted to learning principles, a framework for assessing lessons, and questioning techniques. Most of the time in the last 3 days was taken by practice lessons run by participants followed by feedback from the rest of the group. This brought up lots of suggestions for ways to improve the activities.

The 5-day format was much better than the 2-day sessions we have run for elf training in the past, and will be the format of choice for the future.

Apart from the official curriculum, participants made a video "All about that Bayes" which is now on YouTube.

Why Bayes first?

We scrapped NHST in 2013 and confidence intervals were downgraded after Dec 2014. In Bangkok in July 2015 we ran a revamped Boot Camp introducing Bayesian analysis before frequentist and information theoretic (AIC) methods. All Boot Camps since then have used this "Bayes First" approach.

Frequentist methods seem simple and intuitive, but the intuitions are wrong: a p-value is not the probability that null hypothesis is true, a confidence interval is not a credible interval. For details see Gigerenzer, Hoekstra, Morey...

The Bayesian approach is intuitive and the intuitions are correct. It can be taught at elementary level, eg Albert & Rossman. The impression that Bayesian methods are difficult comes when people turn to Bayesian analysis when they encounter problems that cannot be solved with frequentist methods: the Bayesian approach works, but it's not going to be simple.

We no longer have to worry about Bayesian methods being criticized as "unscientific". A bigger worry is that a tradition of using uninformative priors seems to have taken hold in ecology.


Updated 4 Nov 2019 by Mike Meredith