Technology has completely transformed the process of learning in the modern society. Students, professionals, and teachers themselves no more limit themselves to the school system. While, some educational institutions are rising to embrace this new trend and take of it, many are standing firmly in the system established as far back as the medieval times. These emerging media, riding on the wave of the digital revolution, have developed tools to offer a more holistic approach to learning. One of the triumphs of the emerging media is the role it has played in igniting the interest in science and disseminating the subject across the corners of the world.
Digitization of Scientific Research
In the era before the Internet, a simple act of “searching” for relevant research was a challenge for researchers. With thousands of research articles appearing in hundreds of journals, it was not an easy task to find useful material. Even with access to a large library meant hours and days’ worth of mining through tomes. All of this now happens at the click of a button on the internet. Various databases such as JSTOR, Science Direct, Sage Journals, and more provide access to mountains of research and bring the most relevant scientific information to anyone in need, within a matter of milliseconds.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
Access to world-class education is not limited to a chosen few, who are also ready to shelve hundreds of thousands of dollars. Coursera, Khan Academy, Stanford Online, edX, and more, have laid the foundation for a system which brings affordable to free education for everyone and everywhere. These MOOC platforms include lectures from some of the best professors, professionals, and entrepreneurs in the world with strong credentials. The courses range from intense to mild, depending on their technical depth. Therefore, based on their proficiency in the subject, students can choose the courses that are best suited for their level of understanding of the subject. While some of the courses are free, others are affordable in general. These MOOCs are an excellent tool for dissemination of scientific knowledge across the globe.
Chalk Boards to Smart Classrooms
Science as a subject demands a lot of active imagination from students for it to be understood. There is growing research evidence that the growing addiction to various entertainment options such as video games, movies, TV shows, and so on, is hampering people’s ability to assimilate difficult concepts. While the entertainment requires passive attention from people, science requires active involvement. This puts off a large number of people from pursuing scientific knowledge.
Modern classrooms are designed to address these problems. Teachers do not limit themselves to sketches and words on a chalk board. They are using videos from the internet to explain scientific principles and concepts in a way that is easily understandable by students. Students are even suggested various online sources to get a better grasp of various concepts relevant to their syllabus. They can get online with several Internet service providers. Time Warner Internet offers great deals in many parts of the USA.
eBooks are changing our reading habits in a big way. No more is there a need for carrying heavy books, or the fear of losing them. There is a huge convenience factor attached to eBooks. People can carry thousands of books in their pockets, wherever they go. They can get back to their textbooks whenever they like – while travelling, during lunch, and so on.
Similarly, animations, videos, assessment tools, and other interactive media are a great way to learn. Interactive animations indulge students to try and experiment with various aspects of the scientific principles to get a better grasp of the topics. Based on how much they have studied, students can take online assessment tests to ascertain their level of understanding of the subject, and even get a highly personalized report on what needs to be improved.
Rise of Science Channels
The emergence of YouTube as the world leader of all video platforms, gave birth to a huge number of vlog channels, which are dedicated to science. AsapSCIENCE, MinutePhysics, StarTalk Radio, SciShow, and many others bring scientific answers to questions that most of us don’t even know to ask. These channels no more serve as encyclopedias that we visit every once in a while. Instead, they command a huge and ardent fan following that is ever ready to learn, understand and rediscover science. The most charming aspect of these channels is that they offer content in various formats that are guaranteed to capture the minds of people. The channel owners pursue everything from stick animations, whiteboard animations, and demonstrations. In fact, they even offer videos that are 1 minute long, 2 minute long, or an hour long, to meet all kinds of expectations of the visitors.
Influence of Social Media
Social media is an important game changer in the knowledge generation, dissemination and consumption process. Considering the amount of time people spend on various social media platforms on a daily basis, it is not surprising that the most of them are learning about science from these platforms. In fact, these platforms also brought a lot of like-minded people together in quite an informal setting to share their knowledge and grow together. Evolution, Popular Science, Physics Today, Neuroscience, and Science Geeks, are some of the Facebook pages that were the result of such a shared interest in science.
People are more forthcoming to discuss science on digital media than in the real world. It certainly has something to do with being called a geek, but the term has grown to become a matter of respect in the digital world. This is the reason why people do not hesitate to share their wonder and awe when they come across some scientific marvels of the universe. This wonder is shared, admired and spread by fellow social media users. As a result, scientific advancements, innovations and news are now reaching far more eyes and ears than ever before.
Communities and Forums
We have all had experiences in our school days when teachers for asking difficult questions, which they could not answer, chastised us. At least, most of us did. At a young age, it could be surprising to us to discover that our teachers, whom we consider walking encyclopedias, do not always know everything. Also, it is not in all teachers’ ability to accept that they do not know something, and will get back to students later after finding answers to their questions. The result is an awkward classroom moment, which may destroy a kid’s curiosity even before it begins to take shape.
The Internet has rendered this problem a thing of the past. Numerous forums dedicated to every field of science now populate the digital world. Supported by a thriving community of the curious and learned, these communities are great sources of answers for practically every question that a child, or an adult for that matter, can come up with. People’s curiosity to learn should not be dependent on one person’s ability to provide that information to them, and these platforms, make sure that it remains so by bringing together a huge number of “experts” from various fields.