University to get public tuned into science

Posted on October 12th, 2009 by Joss Winn

Original Press Release

Videos, animations and audio lectures explaining fundamental chemistry concepts will be made freely available to the public in an exciting and innovative new project at the University of Lincoln.

Chemistry.FM will enable anyone with an interest in science to access multimedia educational resources through a dedicated website and the University’s on-campus community radio station, Siren FM. An entire chemistry module from the University’s first year undergraduate Forensic Science programme will be covered.

Staff and students from faculties across the University will collaborate with expert broadcasters and producers at Siren FM to generate a rich variety of multimedia course content, which will then be broadcast and published online.

Chemistry.FM will run for 12 months, led by the University’s Centre for Education Research and Development (CERD). It is part-funded by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) with total project costs of £48,000.

The project will result in a complete course licensed and packaged for re-use by teachers and learners. This open educational resource will comprise of student-made videos, audio recordings of each lecture, presentations combining video, audio and slides, plus accompanying notes and a course reading list.

Joss Winn, Technology Officer in the University’s CERD, is Project Manager for Chemistry.FM.

He said: “The University of Lincoln is part of a new, national programme to provide open access to complete, structured course materials. The project will better the higher education community’s understanding of how broadcast media, such as radio, can help widen participation in open education.”

Chemistry.FM was born out of a project run last year at the University, internally funded by CERD through its Fund for Educational Development.

Lincoln students produced 17 high-quality videos explaining difficult chemistry concepts for first year Forensic Science students through a mixture of animation and live action. Due to the high level of interest from other institutions, these videos were made available for non-commercial re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Most are freely available to watch on You Tube.

Chemistry.FM will build on that work with Lincoln students producing learning materials for the whole Year 1 module, Introductory Chemistry for Forensic Science. The course is designed to cover all major areas of chemistry (inorganic, organic and physical).

Joss added: “This project is about making learning materials more freely available to teachers, students and the general public. The costs associated with digital publication are much lower than in traditional print. By using community radio we can introduce the local community to the ideas behind Forensic Science in an accessible way. People will be able to listen to the broadcasts on Siren FM, then go to the website and download more learning materials.”

Dr Mark Baron, Principal Lecturer in Analytical Chemistry in the School of Natural and Applied Sciences, is Principal Investigator for the project.

He said: “It is excellent that JISC is supporting this project and that we are in a position to share and showcase the chemistry teaching materials that we use with our forensic science students. I am also excited about the opportunities to work across departments in support of producing high quality audio and visual materials by both academics and students.”

In June this year David Lammy, Minister of State for Higher Education, gave a speech entitled The Edgeless University, in which he urged universities to use technology to make learning materials more openly available beyond the walls of their institutions.

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