BACKGROUND Information on science is becoming increasingly accessible via the WWW, though problems of reliability and authenticity are well recognised. A number of universities have now made part of their high‐quality teaching resources freely available on the web, as open source material.

OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS To assess the type, quality and value of open source educational material as a resource for new forms of science communication.

METHODS The web sites are all freely available. Analysis involved detailed assessment of the current material, information‐gathering from personnel involved and the assessment of likely future needs of science learners and communicators.

RESULTS Science e‐learning is likely to become an increasingly important element in encounters with science, for both lay and professional purposes. One attraction is the potential for interactivity, via the use of blogs and e‐journals for example; this opens up the prospect of new dynamics between users and experts. Universities involved in this imaginative initiative, include; • MIT, which has an extensive OpenCourseWare project – the aim is that by 2007, it will have representative material from all 2000 of so of its courses. Its ambitious aim is to‘further MIT’s aim of further advancing education around the world’.

• The OPEN UNIVERSITY, UK, which since October 2006 has made more than 5,000 hours of high quality reaching material freely available.

Open Source provision is beginning to increase awareness of and participation in higher education, by offering material for independent or group study. This paper argues that comparable on‐line resources can be made available for the purposes of science communication, in ways that would increase participation from groups normally less able to participate in ‘live’ events and also allow teachers of science communication to share good practice.

CONCLUSION Science communication, for both teachers of the subject and for those who are its recipients, will in future become increasingly delivered on‐line; professionals involved in its delivery need to commit more of their energies to that purpose.

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PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Using open source material for science communication

Jeffery Thomas   The Open University UK

BACKGROUND Information on science is becoming increasingly accessible via the WWW, though problems of reliability and authenticity are well recognised. A number of universities have now made part of their high‐quality teaching resources freely available on the web, as open source material.

OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS To assess the type, quality and value of open source educational material as a resource for new forms of science communication.

METHODS The web sites are all freely available. Analysis involved detailed assessment of the current material, information‐gathering from personnel involved and the assessment of likely future needs of science learners and communicators.

RESULTS Science e‐learning is likely to become an increasingly important element in encounters with science, for both lay and professional purposes. One attraction is the potential for interactivity, via the use of blogs and e‐journals for example; this opens up the prospect of new dynamics between users and experts. Universities involved in this imaginative initiative, include; • MIT, which has an extensive OpenCourseWare project – the aim is that by 2007, it will have representative material from all 2000 of so of its courses. Its ambitious aim is to‘further MIT’s aim of further advancing education around the world’.

• The OPEN UNIVERSITY, UK, which since October 2006 has made more than 5,000 hours of high quality reaching material freely available.

Open Source provision is beginning to increase awareness of and participation in higher education, by offering material for independent or group study. This paper argues that comparable on‐line resources can be made available for the purposes of science communication, in ways that would increase participation from groups normally less able to participate in ‘live’ events and also allow teachers of science communication to share good practice.

CONCLUSION Science communication, for both teachers of the subject and for those who are its recipients, will in future become increasingly delivered on‐line; professionals involved in its delivery need to commit more of their energies to that purpose.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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