Recommendations: Future Development of Web Resources in the Geosciences

Picture from workshop

Before the close of the meeting, workshop participants generated a list of resources and information they currently need for development of web resources. This list has been distilled into the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1: Foster Further Interdisciplinary Interaction

Participants recognized the need to continue and grow the collaboration and interactions begun at the workshop, as well as to expand the network of geoscientists, educators, and web design specialists. An important means of fostering further work will be the creation of a network of individuals in this group, maintained through 1) creation of a list serve; 2) posting announcements of collaborations and calls for interest through DLESE; 3) development of a web site listing of individuals interested in developing future collaborations.

Recommendation 2: Improve the Technical Quality of Geoscience Education Resources

Many of the most effective resources that workshop participants viewed, and after which they might model their own resources, required programming skills at a higher level than html. Only a few participants felt they were adept at creating resources in Java, php, and other programming languages. While it is understood that only a few participants have the resources to learn these programming skills themselves. From this, two recommendations emerged:

  1. Increase the number of geoscience educators who also possess technical programming skills, offer a series of workshops on web design at the programming level. Creating a group of earth scientists who are proficient at programming is critical to increasing the number of high-quality resources. We initially recommend a two-week workshop for ~20 geoscientists in technical aspects of web programming and design.
  2. Engage students in design and review of web resources, in order to encourage a new generation of scientists and science educators who are adept at both geoscience content and web resource development.
Recommendation 3. Create Systems for Recognition of Web Design as an Important Contribution to the Profession

Design and implementation of web resources for learning is time-consuming, high-level work. Unfortunately, review systems for tenure and promotion rarely recognize the significant effort put into these activities, despite their importance in supporting high-quality education. Unlike publications in refereed journals, web publications lack the mechanisms to qualify them as significant contributions to the designer's field. The DLESE Review System begins to address this lack of mechanism by providing a measure of the quality and significance of contributions to the field. We recommend a further enhancement of the DLESE Review System through the creation of a review board, a network of more-senior colleagues able to comment on the importance and utility of others' web resources. Letters from this group could, for example, be added to tenure and promotion packages.

Recommendation 4: Develop broad recognition of design principles
A final recommendation is to bring the lessons learned at the workshop to a much broader audience. Outreach and dissemination of the workshop content will be accomplished in the following ways:
  • Creation of a web resource that replicates the major content and ideas of the workshop (this project is currently underway at SERC) for those who did not participate.
  • An annotated list of exemplary web resources that clearly demonstrate each of the principles of instructional design that were explored in the workshop.
  • A series of articles in print (to be published in the Journal of Geoscience Eduation) that provides the same principles of instructional design for web resources, that will directly reach a broader audience than the workshop website.