A ‘Community of Learning’ – the UWS Nepean Science Virtual Resource Centre

Sharon Fraser, Elizabeth Deane


The Science Virtual Resource Centre (VRC) (http://edtech.nepean.uws.edu.au/science/vrc/) has been modelled on web sites that are already successfully engaging students, notably The University of Sydney’s Biological Sciences site (http://fybio.bio.usyd.edu.au/sobsfyb/fyb_StuRes.html) and Hypertext Books at the College of DuPage (http://www.cod.edu/dept/KiesDan/).

The site was established with six main aims:
• to provide level one science students with greater access to learning resources and information, and encourage the use of technology as a learning tool;
• to free staff from being seen solely as information providers, enabling them to have access to a venue through which they can experiment and develop rich and interactive learning resources;
• to establish a site where collaborative learning is encouraged and supported, and where teaching staff can challenge and stimulate students;
• to assist students to develop the skills of independent learning, encouraging them to take responsibility for their own learning;
• to help students develop their computer skills and familiarity with the web, via an easily
accessible, low technology site; and
• to begin the development of a ‘community of learning’ (Hough and Paine, 1997) whereby students and staff share common learning interests and purposes.
The VRC site was launched in first semester 1999, and is thus in its infancy. Subject Resources, Further Tools for Learning, and the Discussion Forum, are still being developed. The process by which the site has developed, and continues to evolve and the manner in which we hope to achieve our aims will be the focus of this paper.

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