Students play an active role in their learning through the timely, but self-paced, completion of online virtual expeditions in which students take on the role of a research oceanographer. Students participate in electronic discussions, often problem-based and issue-oriented, with other students on issues based on reading assignments and research activities.
Approximately 120 enroll in class each semester with another 200 students enrolling in the winter and summer special sessions.
College Lower (13-14) Introductory Level
The course does not serve as a prerequisite for other courses. Typically, 90% of the students take the course to satisfy an upper division general education requirement and 10% of the students take the course as pre-service elementary teachers. This course is currently taught only in an online format, although it has been taught in a "face-to-face" format on the past.
1) appreciate the methods and limitations of scientific investigations of the global ocean; (Learning Outcome #1)Students will also:
2) distinguish between science and pseudo-science; (Learning Outcome #2)
3) apply the methods of science to a problem involving the earth and environment; (Learning Outcome #3)
1) increase their knowledge of the oceans and its life forms;
2) understand that oceanography is global in nature and of special interest to diverse societies of the Pacific Rim, including the multicultural population of
Adaptations have been made that allow this course to be successful in an online environment
- Having students be participants in multiple web-based research expeditions to take advantage of "role-playing" in a virtual environment.
- Offer audio track with written text for every webpage.
- Generate video and audio segments, including introductory presentation before class begins, and weekly introduction to material.
- Develop a "hardcopy" workbook for students to document their learning in each virtual expedition.
- Provide well-organized, complete descriptions with clearly stated learning objectives of all required assignments and performance expectations.
The most successful elements of this course are:
- Having students participate as scientists in virtual research voyages and required participation in focused electronic discussions. Documentation is through scores on learning assessment tools and unsolicited feedback from students.
Recommendations for faculty who teach a course like this:
- Be strategic in role of online work in faculty merit system, which varies from institution to institution.
- Start small and evolve to build a growing library of exercises though a multi-year plan to move from classroom to hybrid to online formats.
- Be selective in choosing specific course to offer online. Learn to leverage a single, dedicated effort to cover multiple roles of faculty (teaching, scholarship and service).
- Have clear and consistent dates for students to complete each assignment, including weekly work, for example Tuesday at 10 AM each week, and specified well in advance (in course schedule in syllabus provide to students at beginning of term). Build in a mechanism for students to confirm to you each week that they have completed the work.