Academic journal article Teaching Science

Queensland Museum Online Learning Resources

Academic journal article Teaching Science

Queensland Museum Online Learning Resources

Article excerpt

This article evaluates three online educational resources on the Queensland Museum website in terms of their use of ICTs in science education; how they relate to the Queensland Middle School Science Curriculum and the Senior Biology, Marine Studies, Science 21 syllabuses; their visual appeal and level of student engagement; the appropriateness of the accompanying worksheets; and their ability to develop scientific enquiry methodology and scientific literacy. One web resource shows how science is being used to solve an ecological problem and another demonstrates how scientific thinking and practices solve problems of commercial and biological significance. Teacher feedback about these online resources is also provided.

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There has been an impetus over recent years for teachers to incorporate ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) into all key subject areas. The 'Smart Classroom' initiative of the Queensland Government encourages teachers to apply advanced ICT pedagogical practices within their classrooms. As outlined In Education Queensland's paper on Smart Classrooms Professional Development Framework (2008), this involves experimenting with "new ICT and teaching and learning methodologies to meet individual learning needs and to develop students' higher order skills and creativity". Teachers are charged with the task of creating experiences for students to work in groups and independently on projects requiring the selection and use of ICT tools.

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The Queensland Museum has produced several award-winning online learning resources for Middle and Senior school students. These resources incorporate the use of ICTs in science education, as well as targeting several of the Queensland Middle School Science Essential Learnings, and the Key Concepts and Key Ideas in the Queensland Senior Biology syllabus. In addition, the web resources cover sections of the Marine Studies and Science 21 syllabuses and are applicable to Junior and Senior Science courses in other Australian States.

The three web resources, Wild Backyards, Mangrove Challenge and Disease Detectives, critiqued and analysed in this article, can all be accessed via the following URL:http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/ education/learningresources.asp

1. WILD BACKYARDS

This resource is aimed at Middle School students (Years 5-9). Teachers have commented that it has a significant field trip component with a range of hands-on activities. It is therefore also appropriate for Senior School students of lower academic ability. The resource has had marked success with students, especially those in rural Queensland. A quote from the Innisfail-Babinda Advocate (Fig. A) documents how one school in northern Queensland has been using this online resource.

One of the student tasks is to produce a digital story of their own school grounds, incorporating ecological concepts developed using the booklet of activities. This task covers several ICTs and requires careful planning using design, storyboarding and layout principles. Students are involved in preparation, camera operation and editing. Students can opt for making their digital story using still images with a Photostory program, or take on the challenge of a full-scale video production. Students gain skills in digital still imaging and desktop publishing while resizing and cropping their images. They also have to add text to images and voice-overs and critique their work. The finished product could be uploaded to the school website, or students in different schools could share their digital stories. Some schools have set up a blog for discussing unusual organisms found in their local habitats.

Through the Education Queensland site, The Learning Place (http://education.gld.gov.au/learningplace/), some upper Primary and lower Secondary teachers signed up their schools to be involved in the Backyard Explorer activities in 2008. …

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