Jack Interviews Andrea Novicki of the Duke Center for Instructional Technology

By Jack

In January, eight Extreme Biology students will travel to Science Online 2011, an international conference where scientists, educators, journalists, and students come together to discuss the way the web is changing science and science education.  As part of their preparation, the students have conducted interviews with conference organizers, presenters, and participants.  This is the second in the 2011 series.

As a lead in to my preparations for Science Online 2011, I interviewed Andrea Novicki, a staff member of the Duke Center for Instructional Technology. Andrea and other members post on Duke CIT’s blog, mostly with tips and lessons for teachers to effectively use technology to improve their teaching. Seeing as we also are looking to incorporate technology, especially blogs, into teaching, I thought she would be a perfect choice.

Why are you attending Science Online 2011?

I’m attending Science Online 2011 because I think it’s a way to see into the future of science communication – professionally (how scientists communicating with other scientists and the importance of publications and sharing data), to the public (for example, outreach methods like citizen science, blogs aimed at the general public) and especially how the different ways of communicating about science can be used for education – both within formal courses and more informally.

Have you attended Science Online before? If so, what about Science Online has made you want to go again?

I have attended every Science Online conference since the beginning.  The main reason to go is to listen to the others who are there.  They have diverse interests (different fields in science, or journalism, or librarianship) united by a drive to communicate, love of science and fearless experimentation. I think attending Science Online is the best way to see into the future – or futures.

I understand that you (and others at Duke CIT) use a blog to convey information about teaching. What major advantages do you see in using a blog to convey information?

A blog is a fast easy way to publish on the web, and we can repurpose the information easily  to respond to faculty questions, create a newsletter and pull out information we need to address a variety of inquiries.  It’s fast and flexible.

Lastly, what do you think is so important about having scientists worldwide publishing information on the web?

Our society and the health of the planet require science and technology to survive.  People need to know about science, be able to evaluate data and evidence in context and find more information to make well-informed choices about their own well-being, as well as that of their children and grandchildren and the future of the planet.  People need access to information to identify areas where more research is needed, and to be able to evaluate the research currently available.  Scientists and science writers openly discussing results at all levels – between scientists, for students and for the general public – will make science more approachable, more personable, and increase progress by removing barriers to access.  And, science is beautiful – learning about the world around us adds joy and depth to being human.

Thank you Dr. Novicki! We look forward to seeing you in January!


  • http://blog.coturnix.org/2010/12/13/quick-links-108/ Quick Links | A Blog Around The Clock

    [...] Jack Interviews Andrea Novicki of the Duke Center for Instructional Technology [...]

  • Anonymous

    That was a great interview, Jack! I was actually wondering as I read this about how science was distributed to students and the general public before the World Wide Web and the convenient exchange of information we have now online existed. Dr. Novicki, would you say that the Internet has substantially helped students and the general public understand and appreciate science or is it still a work in progress?

  • http://extremebiology.net/blog Ms Baker


  • Andrea Novicki

    Hi Naseem, Great question. Yes, I definitely think the internet has substantially helped students and the general public learn more about science – but it has also helped spread misconceptions, especially when people do not consider the sources of information available on the internet. The openness and availability is double-edged, as we can read both scientific information and about someone’s strongly held opinion, and people often just seek out information that agrees with their preconceived notions.

    My hope is that science education (for both students and the general public, which may not be different) becomes more about how science is conducted, and how to consider information, and about building a useful conceptual model of whatever you are researching that you keep testing with new information, and less about memorizing facts. When I was a student, there was no internet, and often classes were focused on transferring knowledge from a book to our brains, because we could not easily look up details. Now, you still need the knowledge, but more importantly, you need to know what to do with it, and you can always verify details.

    But, back to your question – the various uses of the internet have pointed out the need for all citizens for information (or media) literacy; certainly, before the internet, it was important to evaluate sources of information and look at whether the information was selectively presented, but it was less of an issue because, well, there was less information available and often it went through a review process just to get published.

    Thank you for your question and your interest.

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