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Nature Makes Foray into Online Science Education

Scientists all over the world dream to have their research published in the pages of the journal Nature. Now the brand is expanding to bring science education to the masses with the site Scitable, a sort of online textbook with articles that probe everything from the basics to supplemental material that students typically venture to Wikipedia to find.

The Nature education experiment launched with the "Essential of Genetics," a subject area for which the journal has featured many seminal findings. The study guides, articles, animations, and videos on Scitable are enriched with links to the Nature papers that announced many of the discoveries discussed.

Among the goals of the site is to provide a resource to people in developing nations who want to learn about science. Another is to find ways to improve science education around the world.

To that end, as reported on Ars Technica, Nature surveyed 450 faculty members at universities around the world to determine where they put their priorities: on teaching or on research. While more than 75 percent of the academics said they valued both, a majority also believed that the schools they worked for were more interested in research than in teaching when making hires.

The study concludes that the institutional overvaluing of research over teaching may be costing students a chance at higher quality instruction in the sciences—a possible reason why the U.S., where the "publish or perish" mantra is still alive and well, has lagged behind in training advanced science students.

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