Center For Ocean Sciences Education Excellence COSEE Alaska
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Other Media and Internet

While a website has almost become a standard required outreach feature for research projects, it takes considerable time and skill to design and support a website that will be used as a source of information, particularly by educators. Many scientists and scientific institutions have an “if we build it, they will come” attitude about websites, which is a Web 1.0 website. The Web 2.0 environment is all about interactivity and changing, current content.

Explore a variety of websites to learn about or consider the types of features you could include in your website that would attract users to linger on your website and return to find out what’s new. If you don’t have web design and maintenance skills, be sure to include the cost of professional services in you grant proposal.

Install tracking software, such as Google Analytics, and check it periodically to find out what people have been most interested in and what has attracted them the least.

Update with new information often and use some of the “new media” methods such as blogs, podcasts, videos, and linking information to sites on Google Earth.

Blogging is a means to provide updates on research as it unfolds and allows for a considerable amount of personal expression by individual scientists. It has been effectively used onboard oceanographic cruises and from field locations provided Internet access and sufficient bandwidth exists. A free blog website can be set up easily at Blogspot (you will need to set up a gmail account) and text and images can be uploaded as often as you like.

Podcasts can be created as audio podcasts with a good microphone or as video podcasts, or as vodcasts, with a video camera with sufficient resolution. You will need to invest in editing software if no professional support is available. Both can be uploaded to the Internet or distributed via CD or DVD.
Posting videos to the Internet
Uploading a video requires three things: a compressed video, a high-speed internet connection and a hosting web site. YouTube is one of the most popular hosting web sites, but if your audience is K-12 teachers and students, be aware that many schools block YouTube. Some research institutions have their own YouTube channels, which are easy to set up.

Google Earth and Google Earth (Ocean)
Google Earth is a virtual globe, map, and geographical information program. It maps the Earth by the superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography, and a GIS 3D globe. Google Earth Ocean consists of layers within Google Earth that bookmark georeferenced sites with marine data or special features. Google Earth is available on Iphones and Ipad Touch.

Scientists can create their own data points, using GPS coordinates, and attach data tables, images, videos, and other comments. The coordinates are in 3-D, so you can also get “below the surface” view where seafloor mapping has been uploaded. The Google Earth (Ocean) support staff will post this in response to an email request.

To schedule a training workshop or learn how you can add content, contact Charlotte Vick at the Sylvia Earle Foundation.

Social Networking
Social networking is proving to be an effective method to develop and sustain a group interested in a specific type of research. Networks thrive and grow when there is a fairly constant flow of new, interesting content, so if you want to create a network, you need to be prepared to communicate frequently.

Facebook is primarily a social network with capability for sending short messages which are also suitable for sending out at the same time via Twitter. You can upload images, videos, and links to your Facebook page. People receive your messages as soon as they check their Facebook page. Like all message programs, older messages may soon be less accessible as more recent messages are received.

Facebook and Twitter have been used very effectively for outreach and education about studies of tagged animals. Stelephant Colbert, a tagged elephant seal, accumulated thousands of Facebook friends, was featured on the Stephen Colbert show, and provided the means for many educational messages as people followed the migration pattern revealed by the satellite locations. Facebook is free of charge but not of Google ads. Some people are wary of Facebook security which is complicated to set up to avoid the sharing of your email address in various ways.

Ning provides a means to set up a social networking group and subgroups, a calendar, a blog, and other text blocks that can easily set up and updated. Images and videos can also be uploaded and maintained as galleries. Group and sub-group members can interact and, if given permissions by the moderator, upload their own content. Ning can also be synced with Twitter.

Access to the content can be open or closed to the group, and open security can result in spamming and unwanted email contacts for group members because member email addresses are also available. If you are primarily intending to send out messages, a blog may be a less complicated option. Ning has several fee-based plans which provide additional features at higher rates.