Fostering digital and scientific literacy: Learning through practice

Patricia Dias da Silva, Lorna Heaton


Despite the rapidly growing body of work on public participation in citizen science, what and how participants learn by participating has received limited attention. This paper uses a digitization project underway at the Marie-Victorin Herbarium to explore the learning process of adult volunteers and show how scientific and digital literacies are constructed simultaneously and socially. In the process of digitizing the Herbarium’s collection, volunteers draw on existing resources, including digital tools and sources, as well as create and share their own intermediary resources, thereby facilitating future work and enhancing informal learning. Individual goals — such as acquiring new skills or extending knowledge — are connected to the goals of the community — the production of a quality reference that will be available to everyone online. Volunteers are learning by doing, however, the lessons they learn extend beyond their local, situated context and may have a global and future impact.


Adult learning; volunteers; citizen science; science literacy; digital literacy; Canadensys

Full Text:



A Great Cities Initiative of the University of Illinois at Chicago University Library.

© First Monday, 1995-2019. ISSN 1396-0466.