The COSEE NOW team has done a lot of leg work to help us plan the development of this site, and answer the question… If we build a collaborative website where scientists and educators can exchange information, collaborate and share education/outreach techniques about OOS… will they come? Will they use it?
All in all, our evaluator extraordinaire Chris Parsons, has conducted six online surveys including our COSEE colleagues, aquatic scientists (in particular ocean researchers) and educators (in particular classroom teachers using ocean data with their students).
In January 2008 we were fortunate to partner with the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) to launch an online survey to explore scientist’s opinions on our planned virtual community center website. Please read the full report in the resources section of this website. It is a truly interesting read about scientists and their overall involvement and engagement in education and public outreach.
Shortly following the ASLO survey, we launched a tailored version of the survey to the education community. We used numerous list serves of educators including the Bridge, managed by COSEE NOW’s own Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and the Oceanlist managed by our COSEE-West colleague, Peggy Hamner. Finally, in the early spring 2008 we launched a survey to our COSEE center colleagues through the ALLCOSEE list serve.
Overall results indicate that the majority of our audiences think there is a need for such a virtual center (67% to 79%), that such a center could help them with education/outreach activities (59% to 85%), and that they think they would use such a center (51% to 79%). The greatest barrier to the center’s use is lack of time (61% to 84%). When we asked two of our audiences (COSEE colleagues and educators) how they might use such a center, top choices were: learning more about ocean observing systems and searching for real-time-data lessons or activities.
Although we have our work cut out for us, these results are encouraging news for COSEE NOW. Next I will be posting some thoughts on our design choices and usability of the site.