Three undergraduate-level courses are being offered this year, that are run completely online and are available to students from any discipline. Members of the public can also enrol as nonassessed participants through the Community Continuing Education (CCE) programme.
Dr Rebecca Priestley, a well-known science writer and historian, and Dr Rhian Salmon, a science communicator with a background in Antarctic research, are members of the Science in Context group at Victoria, created to help bring discussion about science to different audiences.
They have been working together to develop the new courses, SCIE 302 Revolutions in Science; SCIE 201 Energy, Society and the Future; and SCIE 211 Contemporary Issues in Science and Society, which are designed to examine the history of science, the relationship between science, scientists and society, and the communication of scientific ideas and issues.
Rebecca says a major benefit of online learning is that people can watch lectures and complete course assessments at their own pace, with each course broken down into manageable two-week modules.
Pre-recorded lectures are presented by a range of researchers, with course materials, tutorials in the form of discussion boards and assessments all facilitated online—so students can be based anywhere in the world.
“It has been really interesting observing interactions between learners through the discussion boards—we have students from all kinds of backgrounds completing the course alongside learners from outside the University, who are engaging with the content for their own personal benefit,” says Rebecca.
Sally Rawnsley, programme manager for CCE, says the new courses reflect the tremendous breadth and depth of scientific knowledge at Victoria.
“We’ve been working for several years to include more science content into the range of courses we offer, so this is a really exciting development for our programme.”