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Bio 2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists
development, particularly those that do not conform to what publishers perceive as fitting into the current marketplace. Publishers will step in when proof-of-principle is established. Foundations can help initiate innovative new projects and bring them to the point of commercial viability. Web sites can also play a valuable role in making interdisciplinary topics accessible to both faculty and students, and their role seems likely to grow in the future.
Second, professional societies and other national organizations can play a major role in furthering the creation of new teaching materials. They have a keen sense of the cutting edge of their disciplines. They also possess the stature to bring together prospective authors from different institutions and to enter into partnerships with publishing companies to produce and market new works (e.g., the American Chemical Society’s current development of a new general chemistry text). Third, a wealth of teaching material exists on the Internet, but information about the quality and effectiveness of most of it is not readily accessible. Too much time can be spent in searching for the right video or in deciphering a program or set of data in order to use it in the classroom. Highly selective and curated Internet sites for educational purposes are needed, such as the National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Digital Library being developed by the National Science Foundation.2 Simple uniform graphical user interfaces would help greatly in furthering the extensive and facile use of these wonderful resources. The scientific community also could increase the attractiveness of authorship by honoring faculty who have created innovative educational works. Such awards would call attention to the best new materials and highlight their value to educational institutions.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR IMPROVING UNDERGRADUATE BIOLOGY EDUCATION
The reform of undergraduate biology education is a complex task that will require substantial financial resources. Curriculum development, as-
The National STEM Education Digital Library program (NSDL) project is composing digital libraries in multiple scientific disciplines in order to facilitate the online sharing of learning environments and resources for STEM education. The digital library will serve as an effective way to hold a large compilation of STEM educational research and tools in a structured manner to facilitate easy access to its contents. Additional information is available at http://www.ehr.nsf.gov/ehr/DUE/programs/nsdl/.