Citizen Science

roundtableLocation: Salon 2
This is a roundtable in the Cyberlearning 2017 Roundtable session.

Citizen science inquiry

Eileen Scanlon
Citizen science is a growing trend in involving the public in different types of collaboration with scientists. The growth of this activity has consequences for data collection and data analysis and the way in which science is carried out. It also has a potential impact on what, and how, citizen scientists learn about science when engaged in such activities. In Open University research we are interested in the links between formal and informal learning, the growth of such learning opportunities and the approaches that have been taken to assessing informal learning associated with citizen science. Citizen inquiry is located at the intersection between ‘citizen science’ and ‘inquiry-based learning’ and refers to mass participation of the public in joining and initiating inquiry-led scientific investigations. The ‘citizen inquiry’ paradigm shifts the emphasis of scientific inquiry from scientists to the general public, by having non-professionals (of any age and level of experience) determine their own research agenda and devise their own science investigations underpinned by a model of scientific inquiry. It makes extensive use of web 2.0 and mobile technologies to facilitate massive participation of the public of any age, including youngsters, in collective, online inquiry-based activities. Citizen inquiry aims to leverage the pedagogical potential of inquiry-based learning is a productive approach to the development of learners’ knowledge of the world and the enhancement of higher-order thinking skills through opening up massive participation in inquiry-based activities. Among research questions studied: How can sustainable communities of citizen scientists be created and how can platforms to support citizen science inquiry be developed?

Design Principles for Co-created Online Citizen Science Communities

Ruth Kermish-Allen

Traditional citizen science projects have been based on the scientific community’s need to gather vast quantities of high quality data, neglecting to ask what the project participants get in return. How can participants be seen more as collaborative partners in citizen science projects? Online communities for citizen science are expanding rapidly, giving participants the opportunity to take part in a wide range of activities, from monitoring invasive species to identifying far-off galaxies. These communities can bring together the virtual and physical worlds in new ways that are egalitarian, collaborative, applied, localized and globalized to solve real environmental problems. There are a small number of citizen science projects that leverage the affordances of an online community to connect, engage, and empower participants to make local change happen. This session will share the results of a multiple case study that applied a conceptual framework rooted in sociocultural learning theory, Non-Hierarchical Online Learning Communities (NHOLCs), to three online citizen communities that have successfully fostered online collaboration and on-the-ground environmental actions. The findings lead to recommendations for design principles of these innovative communities, specifically the technological and programmatic components of online citizen science communities that support environmental actions in our backyards.
Project: Homepage, NSF Award #1530465 – WeatherBlur Next Generation