The best way to learn how to do something is (to borrow a marketing catch phrase) to just do it. Yet when you’re talking about complicated scientific experiments, it is just not that simple. So one website is helping users do the next best thing: watch the experiments being performed. Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) is a peer-reviewed PubMed-indexed journal devoted to the publication of biological research in video form. JoVE allows scientists to upload video of research techniques and experiments in order to more efficiently capture the intricacies of life science research. This visual form attempts to create a better understanding of biological experiments, as well as cut down on the amount of time it would take to learn new experimentation methods via text only.
This scientific visual journal recognizes the growing complexity of biological research as well as the importance of rapid transfer of knowledge within the scientific community and to the general public. With this growing complexity comes a growing time commitment to learn new techniques. Instead of sitting and reading about an experiment, while glancing at still pictures every now and then, JoVE provides a way for scientists to actually view the process from beginning to end.
What’s a university to do when its students are constantly connected to and distracted by social media? Some say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Purdue University is “joining the conversation” with Mixable. Using Mixable, students can build their own personal learning environments, either within Facebook or in a web application. Either way, the tool uses open applications most college students are familiar with, such as Twitter and Dropbox. And it’s all available via smartphone. Mixable acts as a social overlay that students can use to connect with Facebook friends who share the same courses and learning communities. Students can choose to connect with one or all of their classes, or they can simply follow the conversation. Students have access to lecture podcasts and a variety of other media, which Mixable filters by examining link details—automatically building lists of bookmarks, images, video, and files. The tool builds connections by blending the students’ course enrollment information with their networks of friends that already exist within Facebook. These connections enable students to scale learning networks across courses or with small groups.