05 October 2009

Science Online 2010

This year will mark the fourth annual ScienceOnline Conference. The name might be seen by some as misleading, as the conference itself is not virtual (unlike the K-12 Online Conference). Instead it is a gathering of those who advocate for science using online communications. It is "a free three-day event to explore science on the Web. Our goal is to bring together scientists, physicians, patients, educators, students, publishers, editors, bloggers, journalists, writers, web developers, programmers and others to discuss, demonstrate and debate online strategies and tools for doing science, publishing science, teaching science, and promoting the public understanding of science."

And this year, I am going. (And presenting with Sandra Porter from Discovering Biology in a Digital World and Antony Williams from the ChemConnector. And doing a "Blogging 101" session.)

Although I have a greater association with the "online" vs. "science" part of things anymore, I find myself looking for more ways to integrate the real world with the virtual one. Spending time with like minded folks will be good for my working life...and more importantly, good for kids. I realize I'm biased, but I think the sciences have the greatest potential for connection between professionals in the field and students in the classroom. Especially when I run across articles like this one describing how blogs and other online tools bring scientific research within reach:

Every school year, teachers across the country set out to make the work of scientists understandable and appealing to students, who might otherwise find it indecipherable and dull.

This fall, a New Hampshire educator was helped in that mission by a group of scientists—working from a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Those scientists were conducting research in the Phoenix Islands, a remote collection of atolls and reefs in the central Pacific. During breaks, they kept a blog on their work, which Julianne Mueller-Northcott’s students followed every day. Her students e-mailed questions to the marine scientists, who responded when they had time and a working satellite link.

That arrangement is just one of many aimed at connecting students through technology with scientists doing research in the field, an increasingly common practice in schools. Museums, colleges, federal agencies, and individual teachers have become more adept at putting students in direct contact with scientists, even those working in very remote locations—like aboard the NAI’A in the central Pacific, 6,000 miles away.

It's a very cool idea; and, one of many available to classrooms. I am hoping that the ScienceOnline conference will help uncover more ways for classrooms and researchers to connect. I suspect that at least part of that discussion will involve how we also support each group in learning to use online tools. From the education side of things, a recent survey has shown that while many educators use social networking or web 2.o tools, they believe that they could use professional development in terms of using these more effectively in the classroom. Perhaps there will be some good tips I can pick up in January to share with teachers---and maybe I can share some things with the scientists about working in k-12 environments.

See you there!

1 comment:

ChemSpiderMan said...

Thanks for linking to the ChemConnector blog..most people probably know me as ChemSpiderman and this blog: www.chemspider.com/blog. I'm struggling to keep the ChemConnector blog active in parallel with the other truth be known....