UniServe*Science News: Newsletter of the Science Software Clearinghouse Vol 1, July 1995

From the Director

Why read yet another newsletter?

If you are like many of the teachers in our universities, you would like to use the new information technologies to improve your teaching, but maybe you don't know how. You have plenty of ideas, but just not enough time to develop them yourself. It is quite possible that what you want to do has already been done somewhere else, but how do you find out about it?

That's where this newsletter comes in.

Earlier this year, the Committee for the Advancement of University Teaching (CAUT) set up a nation-wide network of clearinghouses. The idea was modelled on the Computers in Teaching Initiative (CTI) project in Britain, which in 1991 estab-lished a network of centres throughout the country, one for each of 27 disciplines taught in their university system. Our network is smaller and tighter, and groups of disciplines are collected in multi-disciplinary centres.

A clearinghouse to cater for all sciences taught at first year level Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Geology, Physics and Psychology has been set up here at the University of Sydney, called UniServe*Science. The others in the net-work are: Engineering at the University of Wollongong, Health at the University of Newcastle, Law at the Australian National University, Humanities and Social Sciences at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and a coordinating centre at the Australian National University.

Here at UniServe*Science, it is our brief to find out about what is going on in the area of Information Technology in university science teaching, and to let you know. As time goes on we will prepare catalogues and reviews of available teaching materials, and make them available on the WWW But right now, this newsletter is the first of a regular series in which we will keep you up to date on what is happening in this area, as it happens.

Who are we?

The key players in our organization are: Ian Johnston (director) who is Senior Lecturer in the School of Physics, has had a lot of experience in bringing computational physics into undergraduate courses, and has been a member of several international software writing consortiums. Mary Peat (co-director) is director of First Year Biology in the School of Biological Sciences, and has been instrumental in introducing Macintosh computers into the first year laboratories and since 1993 has been involved in the development of computer-based learning modules. There are two deputy directors, who are responsible for academic reviewing standards. They are Tony Haymet, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry and lecturerer in first year; and David Patterson, Head of the School of Biological Sciences, and was recipient of a DEET Evaluations and Investigations Program grant to study the use of `New Technologies in Biology Teaching, Nationwide'.

The day-to-day business of the clearinghouse is done by two Educational Technologists: Dianne Chambers is responsible for the biological sciences and has lectured in biology, developed educational software for biology and was involved in the `New Technologies in Biology Teaching, Nationwide' project. Mick Pope is responsible for the physical sciences and has been involved in teaching courses in popular science.

What are our plans?

We see our role as being very simple. We believe that you, as teachers, want to know (1) what materials are out there that you might use in your teaching? and (2) is it any good? We will try to find out answers to those questions, and in order to get the information out to where it is needed, we have set up network of personal contacts throughout the universities of Australia. If you work in a department of biochemistry, biology, chemistry, geography, geology, physics or psychology, then there is one person in your department whom we are in contact with. They know the state of our information databases, and they will keep us informed what is happening about computers in teaching in your department, and they will keep you informed about what we are doing. But we will also keep giving you information through these newsletters.

So, keep reading.

Ian Johnston, Director


* collecting and disseminating information about ...;

* advising on and promoting the use of new technologies in ...;

* publicizing new develop-ments in ...;

* encouraging communication about ...;

Information Technology in tertiary science teaching

Correspondence to:
UniServe*Science News
UniServe*Science (F07)
University of Sydney NSW 2006
Tel: (02) 9351 2960
Fax: (02) 9351 2175

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