A murder mystery is at the centre of the University of Strathclyde’s first free course available to learners around the world.
Strathclyde's first Massive, Open, Online Course (MOOC) – offered in partnership with education provider FutureLearn, and reported by the BBC – features footage of a staged crime scene and the investigatory techniques used by forensic scientists. The course is being offered by academics in Strathclyde's world-renowned Centre for Forensic Science, providing participants with a realistic introduction to the field.
The Centre's Professor of Forensic Science Niamh NicDaeid said: "Learners will get to see videos and still photographs of the mock crime scene and some of the subsequent forensic science approaches that typically takes place following a murder. They will be encouraged to take part in discussions about the evidence presented and to engage with the video-based case scenario they are evaluating.
"What we're trying to do is to dispel some of the CSI mythology in a realistic and positive way, and to enthuse people about science, while highlighting what science can do in the service of the criminal justice system."
The six-week "Introduction to Forensic Science" MOOC launched on January 6 2014, featuring modules on core aspects of forensic science casework, such as DNA and fingerprint analysis.
The Centre's Dr Katy Savage said: "Our MOOC will be an introductory course and participants won't need to have a background in forensic science.
"One of the unique selling points will be the case study at the centre of the course – a staged murder at the University's Ross Priory house, on the banks of Loch Lomond."
Prof NicDaeid added: "The Centre for Forensic Science holds a special position within the University and in Scotland, having been established in 1967 and offering the UK's longest continuously-running postgraduate qualification in Forensic Science.
"Our Centre is extremely well-positioned in terms of its first-class research and its engagement in the development of policy and practice in the field. Our academics also boast significant expertise as casework practitioners.
"This gives us the credibility to offer a MOOC that is a realistic reflection of the forensic science domain."
Howard Ramsay, Learning Enhancement Manager at Strathclyde, said: "This MOOC will bring together significant expertise from across the University, provided by both professional services and academic colleagues."
FutureLearn's first courses open to learners will cover a range of topics, such as Literature; History; Social Sciences; Computing & IT; Environment & Sustainability; Marketing; Psychology; and Physical Science.
Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn, said: "We're looking forward to introducing FutureLearn to learners around the world. Our partners have developed a wonderful range of high-quality courses to launch the service and I have no doubt that our learners will find the content compelling."
FutureLearn is being designed to enable people all over the world to enjoy learning through free courses accessible on mobiles, tablets or PCs.
FutureLearn was created in December 2012 as the UK's first provider of free, high-quality MOOCs. Its partners and course providers comprise leading UK and international universities and cultural institutions including the British Library, British Museum and British Council.
18 September 2013