The term "citizen science" means different things to different people. To some it is simply a new word to describe amateur scientists engaging in data collection - possibly for use in traditional research project. This is certainly not a new concept. To others it is a recently recognized process whereby an interest in participating in organized group activities via crowd sourcing - activities that are often distributed over wide locations - can be coordinated to result in useful data and observations that might not be possible if traditional approach is used.
Citizen science can include coordinating the observations of amateur astronomers around the world, crater counting on moons across the solar system, or using one's computer to search raw data for SETI signals. Done properly, citizen science allows a larger portion of the population to make a contribution to science. It also affords researchers a chance to gain large, diverse datasets and little or no cost from an enthusiastic cadre of volunteers.
Space College aims to provide anyone, anywhere with access to the tools needed to pursue a career in space exploration. Some people may only want to participate in a subset of the broader range of skills needed to get a degree. Others may want to create activities that engage citizens so as to facilitate education and public outreach. In communities lacking in resources and funding, a citizen science approach may be the best way to provide citizens with access to the basic aspects of a career in space exploration.
Regardless, citizen science, as it is currently practiced, can be a natural part of the open source, diverse participant, crowd sourced approach that Space College seeks to take where people become an active participant not only in learning but creating the resources by which to learn. It can also serve as a potent framework against which education and public outreach can be performed.
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