An alternative to textbooks in science

“Textbooks, ladies and gentlemen, are dead”, wrote Daniel Pikler, our Head of Education just a few weeks ago. Danny’s point was that young audiences are used to consuming information via a different medium — a social, digital, multi-media rich one that make traditional printed textbooks seem outdated and irrelevant.

For the past couple of years, Stile and our awesome partners over at the award-winning Cosmos Magazine have been working to increase the relevance of science education, both in terms of content as well as delivery. Why? We wanted to reignite the curiosity of young learners who have been opting out of STEM disciplines in secondary school.

Looking around, we were pretty disappointed with the quality of science learning resources in general. They were largely textbook driven, and even if the textbooks were available in a digital format, they still felt as dated as the books themselves. There were some great online resources, but they only covered specific topics, or only provided the coverage in say, video format — by no means a complete learning resource. We knew we could do better.

Enter Cosmos Lessons — A comprehensive collection of interactive, engaging science lessons built on Stile’s e-learning platform.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been experimenting with both the content and delivery of science resources into classrooms around the world. We’ve engaged teachers, students, scientists, academics, artists, animators and curriculum writers, and though an iterative process, have built and improved our lessons and technology. This has been a seriously eye-opening process that has taken us on a journey we never would have expected at the start of the project.

So what did we learn? Well for one thing, there are some pretty core principles in building next-generation learning resources:

  1. Relevance. Learning is fun and interesting when it is relevant to your daily life. It is mind blowing how much ‘stuff’ taught in schools simply isn’t relevance-lead, that is, you don’t understand why on earth you’re learning it. If you don’t perceive the relevance, you’re pretty likely to be disengaged — not a recipe for learning! Cosmos Lessons are relevant by design: every lesson in our science collection is based on a recent article in Cosmos Magazine, bringing the real-world relevance of science into the classroom. By the way, we’re updating and adding to our collection monthly, not every three years like a traditional science textbook.

These principles are core to how we built, and how we continuously improve, both Cosmos Lessons and Stile.

We’re incredibly proud that in a very short period of time over 300 schools (12% of Australian secondary schools) have joined our community. From humble beginnings, the interactive Cosmos Lessons collection has become substantial, with 78 units covering core topics for years 7–10 science. Every single one of those units is relevant by default — based on cutting-edge science as reported by Cosmos Magazine. And to make life easier for our comrades on the front-lines, all lessons are curriculum aligned.

We’re on a mission to re-engage young learners in science, so we’re not stopping here. Not only will we continue with our monthly releases of new units, but we’re also committed to obsessively improving both our lessons and the technology that powers them.

Keen to road test Cosmos Lessons at your school? Drop us a line!

Stile Blog

We blog about education, science, shiny new tech and where these three meet.

Stile Education

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Interactive, relevant, and engaging online science lessons.

Stile Blog

We blog about education, science, shiny new tech and where these three meet.