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What is the best way to learn about bioretention systems?

Believe it or not, it’s not this training course. Ok, before you demand a refund, let us clarify that. The best way to learn about bioretention systems (and the way that we learnt) is to visit them in the real world. Actually go and poke around in them. We learnt by visiting literally hundreds of bioretention systems over nearly a decade. But that’s not actually very practical is it? Hence, this course attempts to bring hundreds of bioretention systems to you. Yes, you still need to invest the time to watch the videos. It still takes time. But not as much time as it took us!

There’s so much content. where do i start and what do i watch?

You’re right. There are a lot of videos in this course. In this video we propose a couple of different options for how to approach the training (depending on your experience). Take a look at the video and use it in conjunction with pages 8, 10 and 11 of the written guide.

What is the difference between modules and elements?

Modules and elements are the names we give the sections and sub-sections in the course. Its one way we divide the course up to try and make it somewhat manageable. Modules are the main divisions within the course. There are seven modules within the course. Some are short modules and several (modules 3 and 6) are quite large. Elements are divisions within modules. Module 3 for example is further divided into 10 separate elements based around the individual components of bioretention systems (filter media, plants etc).

What is the difference between the four video types?

The course contains four types of video. Lessons, demonstrations, interpretations and reflections. Each severs a specific purpose and format.

Lessons - are the most common type of video in the training (we tried to make it otherwise, but it still happened). In lessons, we explain and teach directly.

Demonstrations - a less common type of video. In demonstrations we show rather than teach. Demonstrations are full of images. Use them to quickly observe lots of different example of a particular bioretention facet.

Interpretations - the real gold in this training. Interpretations are actually comprised of not one, but two videos; a question and then the interpretation itself. In interpretation exercises we show you a real bioretention system and pose a question. Its your job to answer it. We then give our opinion to allow you to compare and contrast. Why this is so important is that it makes you think. The more you think, the more you build your own coherent picture of how bioretention works. If you do nothing else with this training course, do the interpretations.

Reflections - these occur at the end of each module. They provide an opportunity to reflect on what you’ve learnt to date, and what you might still need to learn.

How does the notation work?

So you spotted the code attached to all the videos. Something like M03 E08 L01. With so many videos in the course we needed a way to identify them all and their place within the course. We figured they’d help you navigate too. The first three digits refer to the module (M03 = Module 3). The second three digits refer to the element (E08 = Element 8 of module 3). The last three digits refer to the specific video (L01 = video 1 of module 3, element 8 and that video happens to be a lesson). The only spot where this varies is that the four different video types have a different letter associated with them. For example, L01 means lesson 1; but you might also see D’s, I’s and R’s. These refer to demonstrations, interpretations and reflections respectively. One more thing. The numbering of the lessons, demonstration, interpretations and reflections is sequential regardless of type. If the first video of a given element is a lesson and the second video is a demonstration then the codes are L01 and D02 (not L01 and D01). Clear as mud.

The videos mention The WSUD Map. What is it?

The WSUD Map is something we started building a few years ago. It’s an open source project to identify various WSUD elements (including bioretention systems) so that anyone can visit and learn about them. Find out more at www.ideanthro.com/the-wsud-map.


It’s easy to say what its not. It’s not a certification that you’re a bioretention wizard who can’t do any wrong. It is however certification that for 20 interpretation exercises you demonstrated the ability to understand and think critically about the bioretention system in question. As an individual it might be useful to you to demonstrate that you have completed this course. If you’re an employer, it can be useful to ensure that you’re staff complete the course!



Certificates of completion are available for people signed up under our Content and Certificate or Enterprise plans. If you’re not currently on one of those plans you can upgrade and obtain the ability to apply for a certificate of completion. If you are already on one of those plans then you need to select 20 interpretation exercises (at least 15 from Module 6 and another 5 from any module) and provide a written response to the question posed in each. The response should be 200 to 300 words long. In it you must demonstrate an ability to understand and think critically about the bioretention system in question. Upon completion, submit your answers here. We’ll take a look and get back to you within 5 business days with either your certificate or a request for you to clarify your response.

I have a question. How do I ask it?

Assuming that you’ve checked this FAQ first, then contact us at jack.mullaly@ideanthro.com. We’ll answer you directly and depending the question, maybe even add it to this FAQ to help other people out!

What is your favourite bioretention system?

Ok, that’s not actually a frequently asked question, but we wanted to answer it anyway. We have a few favourites. As of May 2019 they are:

B00129 - This was the very first bioretention system Jack ever saw in real life. It became his first teacher. Jack visited it over 30 times in a two year period from 2010 and early 2012 and continues to drop in every now and again. By no means is this system perfect, but it never had to be.

B00005 - The Hoyland St bioretention system. The second oldest bioretention system in Australia, it was built in 2001. This system has taught many people over the years and will continue to for many more. There’s a lot to be learnt from the canopy in this system, as well as from how little it has been maintained since 2005.

B00081, B00043 and B00529 - Three systems that teach a lot about the power of treating bioretention systems like ecosystems rather than gardens.

Check all of these systems out on The WSUD Map.