As part of the Citizen Cyberlab Project, we will be delivering 4 Pilot Projects.
The Objective of the Pilots is to:
- Deploy and test the tools in a set of high-profile pilot projects, each with different learning modes, in particle physics, disaster mapping, synthetic biology and community projects in extreme Citizen Science
- Provide an experimental basis for observing how the platform and tools can enhance learning and the understanding of scientific concepts
- Provide means for studying how ICT can support learning through collaboration, hand-on experiment, games and community activities
Citizen Cyberscience projects provide participants with a powerful incentive for informal learning and creative problem solving about a wide range of scientific topics. There is a pathway, which anyone can follow for as far as they wish, that runs from enrolling electronically on a project, to exploring the meaning of the data that is being collected or processed, to playing a role in its analysis and interpretation, and then engaging with science at higher level to define open questions, design and carry out their own experiments.
On the message boards, people eagerly educate each other, with experts intervening occasionally with guidance and explanations. In Citizen Cyberlab, we envisage a learning process that starts with online tutorials about the science behind Citizen Cyberscience projects, progresses to guided challenges for individuals and teams, led by professional scientists, and leads ultimately to more free-form contributions where citizen scientists solve software problems, help organize their communities, and develop creative proposals for new experiments, for professional scientists to consider.
By supporting and monitoring the process, we expect to achieve a better understanding of how to stimulate creativity, and of the process of learning through research. The project will address the following questions:
- What are the essential characteristics of the software tools and environments being used in these projects that promote learning and foster imaginative thinking, either by individuals or by teams?
- What are the minimal and optimal requirements for transferability of a scientific question to a citizen science project?
- How can existing tools be further developed, using open standards and mobile-device-compatible interfaces, to create challenges that both encourage creative teams and assess their learning and creative contributions in a quantitative or qualitative way?
- How can we carry out experiments, with verifiable and transferrable results, to show that the tools are effective and the process for stimulating creative learning works?
- How can we embody these tools in a sustainable platform that can be re-used across a wide range of other learning-based projects?
- How can we ensure the platform evolves to encourage a spectrum of learning and creativity, from acquiring basic scientific knowledge to the generation of new hypotheses and experiments?
We will address these problems through a close collaboration between scientists and citizens. Citizens have already shown real enthusiasm for the idea: in the course of preparing the proposal, we asked the community in CERN’s ‘LHC@home’ volunteer project[i] what they thought of the Citizen Cyberlab idea. Comments included “Anything that can further our learning, especially for non-particle physicists, is worth while” and “Sounds like a great idea. I would be very interested, especially if it could be used as education credit as I am hoping to go into Physics and something like this would help a lot when applying to a university or on a CV.”