PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Digital Developments
Online science communication courses for training, professional development and life-long learning

Marina Joubert  

This workshop will reflect on the opportunities and challenges of delivering online science communication courses for training, professional development and for the exploration of science communication as a life-long learning experience. Universities are responding to the challenge of providing online education and professional development in the field of science communication in different ways. The University of Edinburgh offers an online MSc in Science Communication and Public Engagement; Stellenbosch University is pioneering online science communication teaching via short courses and the Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England has recently completed the first online professional development course created to offer professional development for people new to science communication who want to develop their skills and knowledge in science communication practice. These digital developments offer an exciting opportunity for science communication: What are the unique advantages of online science communication courses, how do we create appropriate and relevant content, how to deliver the content in novel, accessible and interesting ways, methods for marketing and recruitment of participants, participant retention, effective assessment and challenges for the future. Online education is a relatively youthful practice and its boundaries are more fluid unlike bricks-and-mortar education which are, to a very great extent, widely accepted across disciplinary and even geographical boundaries. It is highly likely that issues of quality - whether quality of design, materials, teaching or assessment - are important threads in the development of online courses. Using materials and evaluation data from Stellenbosch, Edinburgh and UWE, this session will draw out the issues of learning to teach online, supporting online students and continuing to create new and the challenges of continuing to develop new and appealing courses and materials in an environment noted for rapid turnover and low boredom thresholds.

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