LSC’s Online Curricula Combine Flexibility and Quality

14su_LSC online classesAs the world of education continues to become increasingly digital, LSC is investing in the development of three new online courses, with two offered this summer.  The three courses are all covering cutting edge content in science communication.

LSC 251 (Science Media and Society) is taught by Professor Dietram Scheufele. The course looks at the increasingly complex relationship between science, media and society, as modern science across disciplines is faced with often controversial public debates surrounding its societal applications.  Genetically modified organisms, stem cell research, synthetic biology and nanotechnology are just a few topical issues discussed in the course.

Scheufele was awarded a grant from UW’s Division of Continuing Studies to develop this course this summer. “This is a great opportunity for us to move one of our core offerings online and do three things at the same time,” says Scheufele, “expand the reach of our curriculum beyond traditional on-campus audiences; reduce time to degree by allowing students to take the course while interning off campus or studying abroad; and help alleviate bottlenecks we have with required courses for our majors because of shrinking budgets for instruction.”

LSC 350 (Visualizing Science and Technology), is currently taught online by Professor Shiela Reaves. In this course, students study the visual brain to understand media messages in science communication as well as marketing, documentary storytelling and visual communication. Students apply core principles from neuroscience across all genres of media imagery.

This is the first online teaching experience for Reaves who developed the online component while consulting with DoIT experts.  Reaves has enjoyed her experience with the consultants.  She says: “UW technology experts really support instructors by pointing out how to avoid landmines that confuse online students, but more importantly how to maximize student–instructor interaction.”

She adds: “This is an exciting adventure, some of my students are 13 hours ahead of our UW Central Standard Time. We have a Thursday deadline for teams voting on best imagery to illustrate a theory – but it’s now a global classroom — so students can remain an active team member regardless of their work schedules or international status.”

LSC 432 (Social Media and the Life Sciences) will be taught online by Faculty Associate Don Stanley during the summer of 2014. The course looks at how social media and emerging technologies are impacting how we communicate, learn and connect on life sciences related issues in an increasingly digital work. Students explore all major social media platforms as well as specific communication strategies used for each platform,

An expert on digital platforms, Stanley relied on his own expertise to move the course online .  Stanley is a firm believer in the power of distance learning and comments: “We know from the rise of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) and sites like Khan Academy, students are turning more and more to online resources to supplement their education. Teaching a class online, in particular on social media, is a wonderful opportunity to better understand how we can enhance our LSC students educational experiences.”

LSC Chair Dominique Brossard is really excited by these new online offerings. “Having these courses online will allow LSC students and other interested ones get access to important material in a flexible way. We need to take advantage of what the digital environment has to offer to help innovative and quality higher education.”