Welcome to InformalScience.org


April 21st, 2014

Welcome, and thanks for visiting! The Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) launched a newly redesigned InformalScience.org in May 2013 to serve as a primary resource for informal science education (ISE) professionals. Site users can share and access project, evaluation, and research resources, as well as get up-to-date news about the ISE field and find collaborators for new projects. Nearly one year later, the site has grown to over 1,500 members who represent the wide variety of ISE sectors. Improvements have been ongoing and we are adding new content and features to the site on a daily basis.

What’s New on the Site?

We designed InformalScience.org as a site to help “tell the story” of the professional field of informal science education by documenting and disseminating the growing knowledge base, and catalyzing conversation and collaboration.

Since launch, over 25 interest groups (including some initiated by CAISE) have started on the site. We’ve run online forums that have reached hundreds of site users. More than 140 professional development and funding opportunities have been shared on our calendar. Additionally, the community has contributed new articles to the ISE Evidence Wiki, and we’ve updated the Community Portal page to make the editing process easier.

We’ve also kept users aware of new content through regular updates from CAISE. Throughout the year, we’ve also continued to send out monthly newsletters and blog series like our Spotlights series, a series on IRBs and research in informal learning settings, and a series with updates from the Building Informal Science Education (BISE) evaluation meta analysis project.

We have also been developing new pages for the site—most recently a page for outreach for scientists and directors of education and public outreach—which we’ll be featuring in next month’s newsletter.

Since the site launch, CAISE has been busy curating and cataloging user-submitted project, evaluation, and research resources on InformalScience.org, as well as other types of resources in the Informal Commons. This ongoing work is essential to keeping our collection comprehensive and up-to-date.

One of the most exciting new resources on InformalScience.org is EBSCO’s Education Research Complete database, which includes full-text peer-reviewed articles from more than 1,400 education journals. Selected resources from EBSCO are searchable through the Informal Commons. This includes articles on topics such as Makerspaces, afterschool programs, and professional development.

Next month, we’ll share a more in-depth update about new additions to our collection.

What’s Going on Behind the Scenes?

As you’ve visited the site over the last year, you may have noticed small changes to InformalScience.org. Based on a variety of feedback—including data gathered by our evaluators at Inverness Research and site analytics—we’ve made changes to the design and functionality of the site. Some examples of this include the ability to manage group forum notifications, auto-refresh of pages after user changes are made, and an updated display of the metadata categories on the lefthand side of search results pages. These improvements are ongoing, and you can expect more changes in the future to make the site more user-friendly.

How Can I Participate?

While our collection continues to grow, it is by no means comprehensive. We encourage you to submit project descriptions, research and reference materials, and evaluation reports to the collection. We also welcome updates to existing records. By contributing in these ways you play an important role in strengthening the field.

And participation doesn’t just end with the submission page. You can share your expertise and work on the site in many different ways—by summarizing emerging research on ISE by creating an Evidence Wiki article stub, running a Group forum on a hot topic in ISE, or pitching a blog post series for Perspectives. You can also make it easier for others to find you for future project work by completing your profile, and linking it to site resources.

There are many options for you to participate on InformalScience.org—and we’re always here to help. If you’ve got questions, comments, or something to share, email us at caise@informalscience.org. We look forward to hearing from you!