Prioritising partnerships: the first 15 years of LearnSci

Dawn Bradley
November 15, 2022

In the early 2000s, the directors of LearnSci were commissioned by the University of Bristol to develop a unique suite of interactive digital learning simulations to support students in a lab setting. The project was a success and recognised as showing outstanding initiative. As a result, LearnSci was formed and officially founded in 2007.

But we always wanted to focus on partnerships rather than simply products, to work alongside educators to provide targeted solutions that would allow their students to develop practical skills, improve their engagement and free up academics’ own time. 

We’re proud to now be working with over 200 higher education departments worldwide on this mission, supporting educators and students in South Africa, Europe, Australia and, via international academic publishers Macmillan Learning and Cengage Learning, the United States. We provide them with Chemistry and Bioscience LabSim libraries and Smart Worksheets that can be integrated with their existing learning management systems, helping transform their lab-based teaching. 

We’re celebrating the milestone of the first 15 years of partnerships and products at LearnSci, and we’d love to welcome you to join our community of educators as we look forward to the next fifteen years.

Reaching global academic partners

We don’t just see the departments we work with as customers; they are our partners. Over time, we’ve built relationships; in the early days with a few contacts who shared with others how they successfully used our products, and then with increasing numbers of academics and educators as we ourselves began to present at conferences and online web meetings. These connections have led to trusted relationships forming over the years between ourselves and the academic teaching teams we work with. Each year, these relationships continue to grow and present more opportunities for innovative work together.

University academics in a room split into two groups. Each group is sitting at a table in discussion.
Academics from some of our partner institutions working alongside our team earlier in 2022.
"Our well developed trust in LearnSci (built over the last four years) helped us work with them, like colleagues, to deliver what I believe is a really innovative, engaging approach to laboratory learning."
Dr Ciorsdaidh Watts, School of Chemistry, University of Glasgow

Building our community of educators

Our partners become more than just returning customers. Over the past few years, those partners have joined a growing community led by our Community of Practice and Educational Research and Insights leads. Their roles are dedicated to understanding and disseminating examples of best practice, initiating conversations and connecting people.

4 people University of Glasgow holding their teaching innovation award trophy.
Dr. Gabriella Rodolico and colleagues from the University of Glasgow, winners of the Teaching Innovation Awards 2021

They help the community by providing opportunities for institutions to offer their peers clear ideas and examples of how to maximise the impact of our solutions. Through our Community Groups, Student Insights Survey, Teaching Innovation Awards and other events, we celebrate teaching excellence, support educational research and actively seek feedback from students and educators to help us drive innovation and improvement.

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How our team has grown

The LearnSci team has grown substantially. As of 2022, our solutions are led by 30 scientists, web developers, designers and learning specialists. Together they demonstrate a unique combination of subject knowledge, expertise in developing and delivering interactive resources, and an in-depth understanding of the role of technology in teaching and learning. 

5 members of staff from LearnSci standing and smiling.
Members of our talented LearnSci Team

Over the years, they have researched the most effective technologies to use, developing unique and innovative algorithms using advanced software. They work alongside academics to understand teaching needs and then break down the complex science in courses into content that’s easier to understand. Their knowledge and skills mean LearnSci actively creates pedagogically sound tools with clearly defined learning and skills outcomes for students across the world. See ‘Our approach’ to read more about the six principles that represent our pedagogical ethos and approach to our resources, platform and community.

Signposting solutions through our messaging

We’re committed to making resources that engage students, allow them to develop practical skills, and free up academic time. But we know there isn’t one size fits all here, and that educators (and their students) have widely differing needs. So our website now explains how we support different groups of educators (e.g. Learning Technologists), and the solutions we offer for different courses (e.g. Biological Sciences).

The next 15 years of LearnSci

Over the past 15 years, we’ve been constantly working on our mission to enable the next generation of scientists to develop the skills needed to make the world a better place. We’re now looking to the next 15 years, towards continuing to grow our community, educate more students, and overall contribute to building a world of better scientists. If you’re an educator who would like to join our community or find out more about our resources, do get in touch - we’d love to hear from you.