Monthly Archives: January 2010

2 What is science communication in the information age?

For this activity I read ‘Science and the online world: realities and issues for discussion’, by Scott L. Montgomery (2009). This passage positioned e-science in relation to the history of science communication. There was lots of information in the passage which and I chose to make my notes in the form of a mind map which can be found at the following link;
Montgomerey did comment that worldwide access to the internet is limited as computers were required for internet access and these were not available in poorer parts of the world. I would say that although computer access in limited, in many parts of the world internet access via mobile devices is becoming increasingly important.


SH804 Week 0: Activity: Reflecting on your experiences of science communication

Even thought the course doesn’t start for a couple of weeks, in the preparation material we are asked to think about ways we have communicated science.  Well personally, I haven’t.  I assume that the majority of people on this course are professional scientists, although I am not.  I have a Degree in Environmental Biology and a HND in Applied Biology, however since gaining these qualifications I have never had a job as a scientist.  I currently work as an elearning advisor in which I support Further education and Sixth Form colleges in their use of educational technology.  I guess the only way I can think that I have communicated science is in teaching materials I have developed such as the short learning object on speciation I created for one of my previous OU courses.

So I will tackle this question a little differently.  I will look at ways I have received science information;

Television; Ranging from the high brow BBC4 programs such as ‘the Secret life of chaos’  to low brow science entertainment shows such as the Gadget show and Brainiac.

Online Videos:  The TED videos have become a fantastic resource on a whole range of subjects, not just science.  For me they seem to be an evolutionary leap from the royal society Christmas lectures which have virtually disappeared from the TV schedules.

Podcasts:  I am a fan of podcasts and I’m currently signed up to the weekly science podcast from the Guardian.

Websites:  I get RSS updates from sites such as and the New Scientist.

Magazines: I am currently a big fan of the Magazine Wired which covers a range of topics including advances in science

Newspapers:  I follow the science stories in the news and do my best to dig a little behind the headlines to find out what is really going on.

Books:  I’m personally more likely to listen to an audio book than read the hard copy, however I have enjoyed a number of science books including those by dawkins and Bill Brysons Short History of nearly everything.

Well that’s my list for the moment. I know it wasn’t the question that was asked but I would be interested to see how this list will change by the end of the course

SH804 Communicating Science in the information age…in a box

I m off work today, trying to get my ECA completed for my H808 course, which is due in next week (21st Jan) however I have been slightly distracted by a box which has arrived from the OU for my next course SH804 ‘Communicating Science in the Information Age’ which starts 30th Jan (no rest for the wicked).

In studying for my Masters in Online and Distance Education (MA ODE) I can take this unrelated course to make up the points I need as I have the required number of points from modules which are core to the MA ODE. This is quite scary for me as this will be the first course which is really out of my comfort zone.

The course moodle page is already open and i am relieved to see it contains the materials online in a similar way to my H8xx modules, however unlike my H8xx modules I have also received this material in the post as well. My box of goodies include 2 books, a dvd and 2 folders of printed sheets. Ok, maybe not the best thing for the environment if its online as well, but it makes a change from the basic letters I received for my H8xx modules. There is also a day school planned in March which I didn’t know about until i went into the moodle page. No idea what that will be like. There is already some discussion on the course moodle forums which is promising. I hope there are some fellow tweeters on the course as I have found twittering with fellow students to be invaluable to my studies/sanity on the H8XX courses.

Unit 10: Evidencing practice-related competencies

For this activity I have produced a two sided briefing document for the Biology Department of a Sixth Form College which explains what Wikis are, how they can be used for education and how to set them up.

Click here to view the Wiki Briefing paper.

Core Activity 9.1: Desktop research

The evidence of research-related competency produced for this activity needs to demonstrate:

  • the ability to research a topic by accessing a range of information sources
  • an understanding of that topic
  • analysis of the information sources.

For this activity I have researched the use of blogs in education and come up with the following categories, descriptions, examples and notes.

Practitioners reflective Blog

Blogs which are kept by learning professionals in which they reflect on their experiences, and any issues relating to their profession.  These are usually individual blogs and can form part of their personal development plan (PDP) as part of a larger eportfolio (Institute for learning, no date)


Reflecting via a blog can provide practitioners with a diverse audience however a lack of personal contact means that blogging can be seen as a lonely experience.  The Edublog awards have attempted to address this by praising the work of bloggers and show them that they ‘ “are not entirely at home in the ‘blogosphere” Dr Sabine Little from the University of Sheffield as cited by O’Hear (2007).  Although blogging may seem a lonely experience for some, the blogosphere can provide a feeling of community with many blogging practitioners commenting, discussing and debating ideas on each others blogs (Becta 2006)


Elearning stuff- James Clay

The Scholastic Scribe

The Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Student Blogs

This is a very broad group as it can include individual blogs for personal reflection as well as group blogs for collaborative learning.  I will be specifficly discussing blogs which learners use as part of a specific course and are likely to be initiated by the teacher.

If a student blog is made available over the internet there are a number of important safty issues to be addressed, particularly for younger students.  These issues can be addressed with solutions such as acceptable use policies, the use of pseudonyms and ensuring learners are aware of how to report issues (Richardson, 2006).  There are advantages to having students work published as a blog, as it allows others to join the conversation.  An example of this is the blog used by learners in New Jersey as a book review of the secret life of bees.  Having the review online meant the author could contribute and answer any questions (Guardian Online, 2004).

Although a teaching practitioner may be keen for their learners to use blogs, as a way of reflecting on development, the attitudes of learners towards the value of blogs may vary with some avoiding the process, some using blogging for personal reflection and some developing online communities. For these reasons it may be wise for practioners to ensure blogging activities are flexible and possibly voluntary (Kerawalla, et al.2008)

The secret life of Bees
A collaborative book review by students

Moo- Photography Blog

Eric’s Blog

Organisation Blogs


This refers to blogs which are produced as part of an organisations website.  This may include a learning provider or support service.  The blog may include personal reflections from individuals working for the organisation or they may be used to promote or provide news about the organisation.


A blog may be an effective way for an organisation of delivering news and standard information, however these blogs do not appear to initiate much discussion in the form of comments ( Organisational Blogs which include reflections, analysis and opinions of individuals within an organisation may lead to more debate, however there is a danger that there is confusion between the opinions of individuals and the organisations they represent (  There are some organisational blogs that include a combination of news and opinion (

The Mortarboard Blog from the Guardian

JISC Digital Media




O’Hear (2007 )’The Best of the Blogs’ Guardian Online. 9 January. [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Richardson, W. (2006) Blogs Wikis Podcasts and other powerful web tools for the classroom [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Guardian Online (2004) ‘Logs prepare to go on a roll’ Guardian Online 8 June. [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Kerawalla, L. Minocha, S. Kirkup, G. And Conole, G. (2008) ‘Characterising the different blogging behaviours of  students on an online distance learning course  ‘Learning, Media and Technology. Volume 22, Issue 1, Pages 21-33. [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 23 May 2009)

BECTA (2006) Emerging Technologies for Learning. [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Institute for learning (no date) Case Study: Thanet College [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 5 January 2010)