Designing for Social Paleontology: An Exploratory Study of Citizen Mental Models

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Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

E-Learn: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education


Chesapeake, VA

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Last Page



Designing for social learning implies understanding the perspective, interests and needs of intended participants. Our goal is to design an online environment that supports a community of practice for paleontology that includes amateurs and professionals. This online space will be designed to support shared practice related to the domain of knowledge that we delimit as: understanding the natural world through the collection, preparation, curation and study of fossils and the science of paleontology. We call this practice social paleontology—an inclusive form of computer-supported collaborative scientific inquiry. This study sought to understand the expectations of citizens as intended users of such a space based upon their experiences with and conceptions of social media. The results inform the theory of social learning while building our capacity for achieving a successful design.

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