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New online library aims to ‘equalise’ science education
November 25, 2014, 10:13 am

The World Library of Science (WLoS), launched by UNESCO and two partners on 10 November, will give students and teachers around the world access to the latest science information and the opportunity to create a global community for science education, according to the developers.

The library contains more than 300 articles, 25 eBooks and some 70 videos, as well as a digital platform that provides a community hub for learning, according to UNESCO, which created the site jointly with the international Nature Education publishing group and the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche.

The United Nations agency says it will dedicate special attention to training teachers and students in least developed countries on how to use the WLoS, so as to “equalise” and “accelerate” science education.

For people who cannot afford to travel and attend conferences, WLoS also provides a means to connect with their peers and exchange information. The professors can create a network among themselves, and this is very important for developing countries.

The library will be accessible to internet users everywhere in the world, at no cost. The majority of the content is for university-level students, giving them resources to complement their learning. For educators, meanwhile, it will provide support and concrete ideas on how to present complex scientific concepts. It also offers a searchable database of content that is peer reviewed.

A preview of the site shows a homepage with information about Dengue Fever, the mosquito-borne disease, and tips on how to communicate science information in a public presentation. A ‘Working in Science’ topic room gives relevant resources, while one can download eBooks on basic genetics and other subjects. Another section provides in-depth information on alternative energy, with clear definitions and descriptions.

Users can also create classrooms and their own specific groups, or utilise customized learning tools embedded in the platform to make science education open to all.

The project is expected to grow, and new partners may be sought. Current funding comes from Roche, which has contributed US$1 million for the development and launch of the library, but if the contents are to be translated into other languages and expanded, a new group of donors will be necessary.

For UNESCO, this is one means of highlighting its science and education mandate, in comparison to its more noted profile in the culture sector. For the other partners, the library brings attention to their sector and activities, even as it enlightens users.

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