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Want a free course in science literacy? The University of Alberta has one for you

The folks at the University of Alberta have created a course for learning critical thinking skills where science is concerned. An Oct. 24, 2020 article by Nicole Bergot for the Edmonton Journal describes the course,

“The purpose of this course is to teach people about the process of science and how it is used to acquire knowledge,” course host Claire Scavuzzo, researcher in the Department of Psychology, said in a release. “By the end of the course, learners will be able to understand and use scientific evidence to challenge claims based on misinformation and engage the process of science to ask questions to build our knowledge.”

“With the uncertainty that comes with the current global COVID-19 pandemic we are seeing a general public distrust in science; ironically because of its self-correcting process,” said Scavuzzo.

The online course has no prerequisites, features guest lecturers, and can be completed at the learner’s own pace — roughly five weeks, with five to seven hours per week of study.

The five modules of the course are presented with practice quizzes, reflective quizzes, and interactive learning objects that are all available for free.

A University of Alberta Oct. 13, 2020 news release provides more detail,

We are often told not to believe everything we read online or see on TV—but how do we tell the difference between sensationalized statistics and a real scientific study? A new online course in Science Literacy offered by the University of Alberta is ready to help learners spot sound science—an increasingly relevant skill in today’s world of social media.

The course covers a variety of topics, Scavuzzo explained, and students will have the opportunity to learn how holistic wisdom is gained and practiced by Canadian First Nations, Indigenous, and Metis peoples, compared to the westernized process of science. They will also learn how to think critically about scientific claims from a variety of sources, learning how to differentiate science from pseudoscience.

“Students can expect to finish this course with well-polished critical thinking skills. Rather than ‘science knowledge’ students will build the skill of thinking scientifically, so they are ready to engage in the process of science,” said Scavuzzo. “It may expose some of your biases and it may also help you recognize the value of challenging your biases by being skeptical, asking questions, and evaluating evidence. It will change the way you interact with and absorb content on social media. It will make you realize that these skills can—and should—be used every day.”

Here’s the list of guest lecturers (from the University of Alberta Oct. 13, 2020 news release),

  • Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy and star of Netflix’s “A User’s Guide to Cheating Death” on pseudoscience
  • Dr. Torah Kachur, Scientist and CBC journalist on science communication (and miscommunication!)
  • Christian Nelson, citizen scientist and creator of Edmonton Weather Nerdery, on experimental design
  • Cree Elder Kokum Rose Wabasca on how traditional knowledge is used in indigenous practices.
  • Métis Elder Elmer Ghostkeeper on how indigenous knowledge informs scientific discovery.
  • Dr. David Rast, scientist and psychology expert, on uncertainty and decision making

You can get more details about this Science Literacy Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) here (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the Module Overview) and to click on the registration link. There’s one other thing, you can get certified in Science Literacy should you choose that option.