Virtual Science Education
Science is arguably the most important factor in propelling modern economic development. The level of development of scientific activity is strongly correlated with economic development and no country in the modern world achieved sustained economic growth without a developed scientific community (see Article in Interciencias). This is not only due to the fact that science is considered the mother of technology, but also because of the effect on rational thinking of scientific training. The mind tricks us most of the time and the only way to advance our thinking despite a poor mind is by empirical testing of our ideas. This is the basis of biological evolution and the basis of modern rational thought (see What is Science).
The graph shows how the scientific development of the countries in Latin America (names marked in red) is below the weighted average of the world
Latin America is one of the least developed regions regarding science in the world, and is also one of the less economically developed regions. This will not change without a large effort in educating our population, providing our youth with the tools to start a successful career in science, and motivate them to make the efforts required to get this training. The best way to undertake this effort is preparing future generations of teachers so that they can meet this challenge.
Unfortunately, the number of youth who start a teaching career in our countries is insufficient to meet this challenge in the short -and even median- term. A large number of our schools do not have teachers trained in science, or the existing teachers have only a rudimentary scientific training, or the schools have an insufficient number of teachers in science. This problem is endemic in Latin America and exists even in wealthy countries with large Latino population.
The figure shows the centers of knowledge production in the world ranked by their productivity. Marked in red are those who produce little science. Highly productive centers are marked in green. (Taken from SCImago at the University of Granada)VISION OF THE PROPOSAL
We can exploit the globalization of modern society and the development of Information Technology (IT) to give modern tools to our teachers enabling them to provide first class science to students in depressed environments. These same tools may enable more gifted students to train to get access to the best universities in the world, regardless of their place of residence.
OBJECTIVE OF THE PROPOSAL
Provide free access, using the tools offered by the Internet and other modern IT, to existing educational resources (equipment, videos, books, games, experiments, films, instructional, etc.). Special attention is given to the needs of people that are unprepared to access this information on their own. These tools will be made available even to teachers and students without access to the Internet.
Complete the EduCienciaVirtual website and improve its design, facilitating its use by persons with little or no expertise in managing Internet tools. The present call for collaboration is aimed for implementation of Phase 3 of the Business Plan. Phase 1 and 2 have already been completed successfully and phases 4 and 5 will be executed after completion of phase 3.
Here resources are being requested only for phase three of this project. However, the project is intended as a long-term effort. The complete proposal for EduCienciaVirtual includes the following:
1. Sample the needs of a representative sample of schools in Latin America and test the idea of EduCienciaVirtual in classrooms of poor rural schools. This was done during my tenure as Director of Science and Education in Miranda State, Venezuela. The product of this effort, which continues thanks to the tireless work of socially committed scientists, can be reviewed in the website http://www.miranda.gob.ve/cienciamiranda/
2. Deploy a website to organize existing high-quality science-education material. This was initiated with personal funds of the promoter, and its product can be seen at http://www.cee.usb.ve/EduCienciaVirtual.htm
3. Complete the website through the search, evaluation and uploading of existing educational material not yet included. This process requires teachers to propose educational material for the website. These proposals are evaluated by scientific experts in the field. Proposals that are finally selected will be paid $ 50. The present requested for funds will pay for 100 new videos. People who want to collaborate with EduCienciaVirtual, offering videos or other material without requesting a monetary compensation, are welcome. Their names will be included in the list of contributors to EduCienciaVirtual. Financial supports, if they so wish, will be included in the list of donors and sponsors of EduCienciaVirtual.
4. Train teachers to use EduCienciaVirtual and provide them with software and intelligent pocket projectors so that they can project EduCienciaVirtual in class, even if their schools have no continuous Internet access.
5. Implement a web portal that allows providing complementary courses and classes in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology to Spanish-speaking students, adapted to the official programs of each country with more than 1 million Spanish speakers.
If less than the amount targeted is collected, we continue advancing phase 3, if more of the target is achieved, we will advance phase 4 and 5.
We invite you to participate in building the future of Spanish-speaking America