Teaching Sustainability through Blended and Online Learning

Wednesday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms
Poster Presentation Part of Sustainability and the Environment


Tim Bralower, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
The blended and online arm of the InTeGrate STEP center is in the process of developing five courses, Coastal Processes, Hazards and Society, Water Science and Society,
Climate, Energy, and Our Future, the Future of Food, and Earth Modeling. These courses add to an existing blended and online course, Earth in the Future that has been taught at Penn State for three years. The courses are designed to support a new Minor and Certificate of Excellence in Earth Sustainability offered in online format through the Penn State World Campus and in blended format on campus. Combined, the courses include 72 weekly modules. When finished the materials will be available on the InTeGrate website and faculty anywhere can customize courses via the Common Cartridge. In our presentation we will provide examples of how different types of courses can be constructed from the modules.

The lecture part of the courses is online. Students take weekly multiple choice quizzes. The courses are all active with blended sections meeting once a week to do laboratory activities. These activities are hand graded in blended sections. Online students do many of the same activities, however assessing these activities is challenging. Students enter answers to fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice questions in the Course Management System. Because the online classes may become large, we are developing large test banks of questions. We are structuring these questions according to Blooms Taxonomy with blocks of questions involving lower and higher order skills. All students blog once a week to assess metacognition. Finally all of the courses have capstone activities.

The online courses have the potential to reach non-traditional students. The World Campus courses have proportionally large numbers of adult learners as well as US Military. Finally, the blended courses are suited to small colleges and universities without earth science faculty.