Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Dolan DNA Learning Center (DNALC) has been named one of the new collaborators to be included in a project aimed at increasing the number of high-quality digital libraries for use by high school and college biology teachers.
Spearheaded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the BiosciEdNet (BEN) Collaborative is a cooperative of a dozen professional societies that are making their content available through the BEN portal. Since 1999, the BEN Collaborative has produced six digital libraries consisting of some 3,700 carefully selected scientific papers, illustrations, images, lab exercises and other teaching materials deemed particularly helpful for teachers in the biological sciences. A recent four-year, $2.8 million grant from the National Science Digital Library of the National Science Foundation (NSF) will allow BEN collaborators to expand the number of available items to more than 27,000 and build seven more digital collections for various purposes.
“ As part of our ongoing effort to decompose its eight Internet sites into content ‘atoms’ that can be searched for and viewed independently, the DNALC will use our $250,000 grant to catalog and make over 100 hours of our proprietary Internet content available through the BEN portal,” said David Micklos, Executive Director of the DNALC.
The aim, Yolanda George, deputy director of Education and Human Resources at AAAS, said, is to get more biological sciences educators to both contribute high-quality materials to the digital libraries and use them in their own work. While university scientists receive recognition—and credit toward tenure—for publishing articles in scientific journals, George said, it also is important for them to receive tenure and promotion recognition for peer-reviewed online resources that improve science education and literacy.
The BEN Collaborative's work has become more important as the number of students taking high school biology has increased in recent years, along with a rapid expansion in the number of advanced placement (AP) biology courses. Teachers of introductory and AP biology courses need better access to peer-reviewed resources that meet state science standards and that also foster inquiry-based learning rather than memorization of facts and "cookbook" lab experiments.
" The whole purpose," George said, "is to have one-stop shopping where they can get high-quality materials for use in their lectures and laboratory classes."
A survey of BEN users last year found that they included not only college faculty—the primary target audience—but also a sizeable group of researchers and K-12 teachers. The users viewed materials on all of the BEN partner sites almost equally, suggesting that the goal of a truly interdisciplinary resource is being realized. According to the survey, the users downloaded materials for use in teaching and incorporated new ideas into their lectures. They also sought materials for student assignments.
About the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal Science, (www.sciencemag.org). AAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million. The non-profit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society) through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.
About the Dolan DNA Learning Center (DNALC)
The Dolan DNA Learning Center – an operating arm of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory – prepares students and families to thrive in the gene age by providing 5th through 12th graders with hands-on laboratory experiences and offering them educational opportunities that are unavailable in their own schools. Each year, more than 30,000 students and teachers from Long Island, all five boroughs of New York City, and around the country benefit from the labs, lectures, field trips and workshops provided by the Center's teaching staff. The Biomedia Group was formed in 1997 to take advantage of the DNALC’s resident expertise in genetics education. The group consists of a unique mix of scientists, science communicators, writers, designers, and computer programmers who combine their skills to create multimedia educational resources for the Internet. The DNALC’s Internet portal, Gene Almanac (www.genealmanac.org), and family of content sites (DNA from the Beginning; DNA Interactive; Genetic Origins; Inside Cancer; Your Genes, Your Health and others) received 4.9 million visitors in 2003. For more information, visit www.dnalc.org.
For more information, visit www.cshl.edu.