Initial Publication Date: May 25, 2017

Cynthia Hall, College of Charleston

From your experience, what practices make for excellent online Earth Science learning?

I have only taught hybrid classes thus far; Fall will be my first time strictly online. In a hybrid course, the students get to know each other the first face-to-face session. To me this is one of the biggest challenges for fully online courses. As such, developing strategies that help students build relationships and trust with each other and with the faculty are key for making an excellent course. These might be utilizing the discussion space, utilizing technology that allows for hangouts, collaborative work, blogging, etc.

How do you utilize technological tools (Google Earth, topical databases, blogging, etc.) in your online courses?

There are so many amazing data collections online from NOAA, NASA, USGS, etc. that allow for and promote data analysis and interpretation, where students can begin to "feel" like a scientist and experience the work of a scientist. Technological tools now allow for students to work collaboratively online, through hangouts and the like. Google resources, such as scholar, allows students to access peer-reviewed research, and Google Earth allows students a broad, as well as detailed view of places to visit virtually. In addition, Google Earth has layered information on many geologic content areas, such as plate tectonics, watersheds, etc. I intend to use these and more in my course.

How do you manage student engagement and assessment in your online courses?

This to me is one of the trickiest. I am planning to have students creatively introduce themselves to the online class. By doing so, each student will gain some background about the other online students. I also intend to heavily use the discussion spaces, hangouts, etc. to have students working together. I will use engaging resources and problem-based/real-world activities to keep students engaged. Assessment will be done through creative projects, as well as online quizzing tools and discussion.