E-learning initiatives in forensic interpretation: Report on experiences from current projects and outlook

A. Biedermann, T. Hicks, R. Voisard, F. Taroni*, C. Champod, C. G. G. Aitken, I. W. Evett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reports on the purpose, design, methodology and target audience of E-learning courses in forensic interpretation offered by the authors since 2010, including practical experiences made throughout the implementation period of this project. This initiative was motivated by the fact that reporting results of forensic examinations in a logically correct and scientifically rigorous way is a daily challenge for any forensic practitioner. Indeed, interpretation of raw data and communication of findings in both written and oral statements are topics where knowledge and applied skills are needed. Although most forensic scientists hold educational records in traditional sciences, only few actually followed full courses that focussed on interpretation issues. Such courses should include foundational principles and methodology - including elements of forensic statistics - for the evaluation of forensic data in a way that is tailored to meet the needs of the criminal justice system.

In order to help bridge this gap, the authors' initiative seeks to offer educational opportunities that allow practitioners to acquire knowledge and competence in the current approaches to the evaluation and interpretation of forensic findings. These cover, among other aspects, probabilistic reasoning (including Bayesian networks and other methods of forensic statistics, tools and software), case pre-assessment, skills in the oral and written communication of uncertainty, and the development of independence and self-confidence to solve practical inference problems. E-learning was chosen as a general format because it helps to form a trans-institutional online-community of practitioners from varying forensic disciplines and workfield experience such as reporting officers, (chief) scientists, forensic coordinators, but also lawyers who all can interact directly from their personal workplaces without consideration of distances, travel expenses or time schedules. In the authors' experience, the proposed learning initiative supports participants in developing their expertise and skills in forensic interpretation, but also offers an opportunity for the associated institutions and the forensic community to reinforce the development of a harmonized view with regard to interpretation across forensic disciplines, laboratories and judicial systems. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-7
Number of pages6
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2013


  • Education and training
  • E-learning
  • Forensic evaluation
  • Reporting and communication

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