Where science and tech meet creativity.

I hope to be attending the ASP’s EPO and a Changing World conference in Chicago. My abstracts are in, and now all I need is funding.

Proposed Workshop (Approval Pending)

Your Face(book) and MySpace: Let’s hook up
Pamela L. Gay and Thomas Foster (SIUE)
In the public social network venues of MySpace and Facebook, individuals of all ages and nationalities look for like-minded online denizens with whom they can build relationships. Through social networking sites, it is possible for E/PO programs to bring together diverse individuals to laugh, learn, and socialize around pet projects and favorite topics. Astronomy is popular among these people, with over 5000 members of the MySpace community listing “astronomy” as an interest. By building interesting MySpace and Facebook profiles for your programs, you can plug into the intellectual and social hunger of these individuals.In this workshop, we will discuss the tricks for creating an interesting profile, how to hide such weirdnesses as age and zodiacal sign, and the proper netiquette for nurturing large friends lists and building large communities. Specific emphasis will be given to using Facebook to build one-on-one relationships with program volunteers and students, and how to use MySpace as a way to distribute program announcements to large populations. We will also address the issues of contacting minors, and coping with stalkers and crazies. Come learn how to the people already want to learn and love the cosmos, and are just waiting to hear what you have to share.
Proposed Poster(Approval Pending)

It Takes an e-Village
by Pamela L. Gay, Thomas Foster, Fraser Cain, and Phil Plait
Online discussion groups, such as the popular BAUT Forum, bring together astronomy enthusiasts with amateur and professional astronomers to discuss astronomy news, views, and dreams. Within this digital community, we look to discover if an e-village can raise an astronomer. In this pilot study, we follow 3 individuals as they go from forum newbie to community elder. We examine their posting habits to determine if it is possible to quantify learning within the bulletin board-based forum environment. We specifically document how the difficulty levels of user questions and the patterns of their responses to questions can be used to document growth in knowledge base and confidence in material.In this poster, we put particular emphases on the creation, validation, and evaluation of our interpretive rubric used to track the development of our three users along the previously identified dimensions. In effect, can we create an objective tool to measure learning from participation in an e-village?

The rubric will allow E/PO evaluators to judge the effectiveness of forums in meeting both educational and community needs given limited finances. The rubric will also open up new avenues for educational researchers exploring the impact of internet-based learning tools. This tool is the first step in a broader study to assess learning within the BAUT Forum, the largest online astronomy forum. We strive to achieve a statistical significant sample of life-long learners.