I am doing a massive open online course, (mooc) with Dundee University in Scotland. It lasts for six weeks. When I first heard about it, ten thousand people had already signed up. Massive in name and massive in number. I like to think I might have been number ten thousand and one.
An event I went to at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August this year informed me about moocs and in particular, this one. The course is called ‘Identifying The Dead: Forensic Science and Human Identification’. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, (if you drink tea). I was a week late starting and have now caught up. We are now beginning week three and I intend to stay with the time line; you won’t hear much from me while I am keeping up with it. This course has fired up the brain cells, (much needed) with new and interesting learning; a great combination! The science of real forensic investigations is not like what we see on television programmes such as CSI, Lewis, or, Waking The Dead. It is educating me, and ten thousand others, about what the forensic science specialists actually do and how they collect and collate the provision of evidence.
At least decade ago, a director of a forensic laboratory in Scotland, said, that if he were seeking trainee forensic scientists he would look for candidates who had studied a science subject, such as physics, or chemistry, in depth, because they would have the desired academic rigor. The candidates can, he said, be trained in forensic investigation to accreditation standards once in situ. There were then, and are now, many students taking forensic sciences courses, which the professor described as ‘scientifically superficial’ and which, are unlikely to take the students into the realms of the specialised scientific forensic work that the experts are expected to perform. From what I have learned so far with the mooc, I can understand why that may be so.