Crafting an online learning journey for citizen scientists
Thursday, June 30 3:05-3:25 PM
The advent of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has extended the reach of universities to very large audiences. The Open University (OU) MOOC ‘Introduction to Ecosystems’ incorporates a practical element that is designed to encourage learners to take on the role of citizen scientists. Each learner is asked to post a minimum of four observations of organisms from a local habitat to an OU site (iSpotnature.org), identifying them with the help from the iSpot community. Learners finishing the MOOC are encouraged to continue contributing to iSpot and are directed to other free online learning on the OU OpenLearn website. Practical projects involving the use of iSpot are built into undergraduate modules which are also signposted to learners. Using practical activities to motivate life-long learning is central to this work. The extent to which experience with iSpot during the MOOC encourages further engagement after it ends has been evaluated.