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Real-Time Weather Education through AMS Online Weather Studies

submitted by

Ira W. Geer American Meteorological Society
Author Profile

Online Weather Studies is an introductory college-level course that leads students through a real-time, semester-long exploration of the atmosphere. The turnkey course package is developed by AMS meteorologists and offered locally at colleges in a variety of instructional settings.
GSA Poster (PowerPoint 2MB Oct29 03)

Learning Goals


Higher Order Thinking Skills:

observation, prediction, data analysis, inference, critical thinking

Other Skills:

teachers and students collaborate to negotiate understanding, application of information-age technology to retrieving and interpreting real-world data


Instructional Level:

undergraduate entry level

Skills Needed:

algebra, basic physical science concepts; basic geography, map, chart, and graph analysis

Role of Activity in a Course:

The Online Weather Studies activities constitute a full semester-long course. All course activities use real-world weather data.

Data, Tools and Logistics

Required Tools:

Course instructors and students need use of a computer, Internet access including a web browser and email, and possibly access to a fax machine and/or scanner. Course instructors may need to design or have their institution design a course management homepage.

Logistical Challenges:

Challenges may include setting up and maintaining a course management homepage, guiding students through various course components, especially if students are not comfortable with the Internet, and communication with students if instructor offering the course completely online.


Evaluation Goals:

Course instructors who used Online Weather Studies in our Spring 1999 pilot course offering evaluated general student response to the course and learning through survey questions such as "How would you compare student success in this course to other introductory-level weather-related courses you have taught?" At the close of our Spring 2000 course offering, 23 instructors evaluated topics such as overall satisfaction with the course and the effectiveness of Online Weather Studies and its impact on teaching. Beginning- and End-of-Course student surveys are available for optional distribution to students. Students are asked questions such as "How would you gauge your current ability to use weather-related content (meteorology) to meet your needs in daily life" and then answer a series a general meteorology content questions.

Evaluation Techniques:

Average values and individual responses from distributed surveys


The American Meteorological Society (AMS), with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), nationally offers Online Weather Studies, an introductory college-level, online distance-learning course on the fundamentals of atmospheric science. Fall 2003 marked the ninth semester of the course offering, with over 150 institutions having used course materials. The principal innovation of Online Weather Studies is that students learn about weather as it happens by utilizing learning materials written in real time and delivered using the course homepage. The AMS Education Program designed and services this course and makes it available to colleges and universities as a turnkey package with electronic and printed components.

The AMS delivers Online Weather Studies partially over the Internet. Students have hands-on learning experiences by completing two laboratory investigations each week based on current weather. Course components include a textbook, a study guide containing the first part of each twice-weekly laboratory investigation, and a course homepage providing the second part of each investigation and current weather links. The AMS designed the course for offering in a variety of instructional settings, by professors with a range of meteorological experience.

The AMS received NSF support to provide students at 100 minority-serving colleges and universities with access to Online Weather Studies over a 4.5-year period beginning in 2002. Through this Geosciences Diversity/National Dissemination Project, the AMS invites faculty members at participating minority-serving institutions to a course implementation workshop at the National Weather Service Training Center and a Diversity Session at the AMS Annual Meeting. Fifty-one undergraduate institutions are already participating in the Project. As part of this project the AMS has added a weekly critical thinking/diversity component to the course homepage, which explores critical thinking and its applications to course content and diversity topics, and a student resources page with education and career information.

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