Initial Publication Date: May 25, 2017

Denise Bristol, Hillsborough Community College

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

I have found that using a combination of short introductory video clips to demonstrate the concepts in combination with interactive data activities and virtual field trips that mimic FTF labs lead to excellent online learning because they help to develop critical thinking skills. I have found that 2YC students often need additional instructions and screen prints for navigation in the online setting. I also find that I have to provide additional instructions as to how to "describe" the data that they are reviewing, as the younger students are seeking to simply "google" an answer to the questions rather than completing the activity and thinking about what they are looking at in the data layers or graphs. Introductory activities are often needed prior to using some of the online activities developed by various groups, so I often slightly have to modify the activity for the level of student at the 2YC.

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

Every year I incorporate more and more online data sets or activities into both my online and FTF courses. I use Google Earth to teach the lab component of my Oceanography Course. I incorporate activities and layers from "Google Earth for Onsite and Distance Education (GEODE)" [ ] starting with Pangea Breakup and then Exploring Marine Sediments. I also incorporate data from the Ocean Observatories Initiative where I can link the Marine Sediments to Primary Productivity in the oceans and SST. In addition, there are various NOAA tide data that I have the students use within the course as well as introduction NOAA video clips/activities for oceanography [ ].

Other than online data activities, students discuss current oceanographic topics such as ocean acidification, sea level rise or other ocean issues, where they have to conduct a literature search and post to an academic discussion board within the LMS.

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

I'm still working on increasing student engagement as it tends to decrease during the semester in online classes.

Assessments include quizzes, exams, discussions and lab activities (data and/or virtual field trips).