Tongue-in-cheek humor aside, Foundations of Science is intended to help students improve critical thinking skills and empower them to make intelligent decisions. If they happen to laugh along the way, that’s all the better, said Stephen Thomas, MSU assistant professor of zoology and one of the course creators.
“Science isn’t just for nerdy people wearing white lab coats; it’s useful for everybody,” he said. “Results from the traditional course offered by our collaborators Matt Rowe and Marcus Gillespie at Sam Houston State University showed highly significant improvements in students’ critical thinking skills as well as their understanding of science.”
. . . The course will offer multiple types of media and exercises to give students experience applying critical thinking to different scenarios involving pseudoscience, such as psychics, homeopathy and ghosts. Students also will be able to participate in group discussions, compete for badges and interact with members of the scientific community.
“MOOC”s on critical thinking at Michigan State and on genetics and evolution at Duke
I hate the acronym “MOOC” almost as much as I do the word “blog.” But what it stands for—”massive open online courses”—are innovations that promise to make education widely available to those who aren’t near universities or lack the time or exorbitant tuition that modern universities demand.
My ex-student, Mohamed Noor, is again running a sort-of-MOOC at Duke, teaching “Introduction to Genetics and Evolution” beginning January 4. It’s ten weeks long, FREE, has no “prerequisites” (i.e., it’s for beginners) and, judging by the enthusiastic reaction of students in the earlier incarnations, I’d urge you to take it. Watch the short introductory video at the site. (Full disclosure: my book is recommended but not required. I’ll also be Skyping in some time during the course to answer students’ questions.)
And here’s another that looks intriguing: a course at Michigan State University on critical thinking and the Foundations of Science. This one begins in May 2013, and runs through June. Sign up here; again, it’s free. You’ll have to enter your name and email to get more information, and you can also read this blurb about the course at the MSUToday news:
There you go! If you don’t have a background in evolution and genetics, Mohamed’s course will help you navigate my own site as well.