March 11, 2010
On 12 January, Oksana Hlodan, editor in chief of ActionBioscience.org, presented the Webinar "Thinking Like a Scientist: Teaching and Learning with Current Science Issues." Hlodan's guest educator was Brian Shmaefsky, of Lone Star College in Kingwood, Texas, president-elect of the Society of College Science Teachers. The Webinar was sponsored by the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) on the Webinar site of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and was coordinated by Robert Payo, of NSDL's Outreach and Professional Development office. Hlodan's Webinar was a rewarding hour of learning and discussion designed for high-school teachers and educators of undergraduate-level introductory science courses. More than 100 educators participated in the live event.
The NSTA's Web seminars are free, 90-minute professional development experiences that use online learning technologies to allow participants to interact with nationally acclaimed experts; NSTA Press authors; and scientists, engineers, and education specialists from NSTA partner organizations. Participants in the ActionBioscience.org Webinar communicated directly with Hlodan and Shmaefsky through message boards, responded to poll questions, and posed questions during the question periods.
Hlodan focused on two questions: (1) Can issue-based activities make science come alive? and (2) Can the process of science work in concert with the context of science through issues?
In the first part of the Web seminar, participants explored how to use the Web site ActionBioscience.org to incorporate issues into their teaching and extend its resources to activities that illustrate "thinking like a scientist."
In the second part, the discussion examined how to use topical and historical cases to illustrate their application to issue-based activities. In this segment, Shmaefsky talked about factors that complicate teaching with issues, accuracy of information and pedagogy, and his experiences using case studies and ActionBioscience.org with his students at Kingwood College.
In the final, hands-on component, participants learned how to teach students to evaluate Web resources using the 5Ws strategy (who, what, where, when, and why) and discussed ways to use this and other tools for thinking critically about online resources. Worksheets for sample lesson plans and evaluation of online resources were available to download.