Engaging Students in Geoscience through Fully Online Courses

Wednesday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms
Poster Presentation Part of Best Practices in Online Courses


Audeliz Matias, SUNY Empire State College
Students are increasingly turning to the web for quality education that fits into their lives. As a result, higher education institutions are expanding their offerings through online courses. Nonetheless, online learning brings challenges as well as a fresh opportunity for exploring pedagogical practices not present in traditional higher education programs, particularly in the sciences. Online learning, supported with hands-on and minds-on activities, actively engages student with critical thinking skills and higher level of learning such as analysis and evaluation of information. This presentation will focus on examples from a series of geoscience and environmental science courses currently offered fully online at SUNY Empire State College.

Taking advantage of the proliferation of tools currently available for online learning management systems, we will explore how we approach course development based on best practices in online learning to create an interactive learning environment. Tasks employed during the development phase of our courses focus on the instructional design and organization of the course. Students learn through case studies, article reviews, group projects, problem-based exercises, data collection and the use of scientific data among other activities. This approach allows students to enhance their understanding of real-world issues and learn important concepts. The sequence of activities, required resources, and timing of the learning modules maximize the use of different learning styles. In this presentation participants will learn about our approach to develop the courses, examples and challenges as well as discuss how they could use our approach.