Over the past decade, the use of online courses in post-secondary education has gone from an experiment to an all out explosion, as institutions look at new ways to engage their students.
Studies have shown these courses can have positive effects on students’ learning, problem-solving skills, and critical-thinking skills. Recently, a partnership between instructors in the Plant Biology Department and multimedia designers at Arizona State University has developed an extensive website designed for a course in plant biology.
As a fulfillment of the natural science requirement at Arizona State University, this internet-based biology course for nonmajors, called Concepts in Plant Biology, helps students explore how plants live, grow, and reproduce; plant diversity; plants’ contribution to the biosphere; and their relevance to human life. An evaluation has been published in the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education.
The objectives of the course are to provide an introduction to the fundamental behavior of matter and energy as related to plants and their role in the biosphere, as well as to teach students how plants function and how they can be utilized to address global problems such as hunger, pollution, and global warming. An asynchronous strategy towards teaching was developed to meet the needs of students who were reluctant to enroll, either due to scheduling constraints or a more general intimidation of science curriculum.
The course creation was divided into two stages: an 18-month long planning phase followed by a 12-month design and development phase. During the planning phase, the creation of a website with multimedia learning modules was selected due to its flexibility, the ability to track data on student usage, and the ability to update. Faculty served as the supervisors for the design phase of the project. They were responsible for the course outline and written content, and also identified concepts to be animated.
A diversity of programs was utilized to create the website content. These included Flash animations to illustrate processes such as the carbon cycle, global warming, and how enzymes work; Director-Shockwave drag-and-drop exercises to engage students in the discovery process, as well as to test their understanding; and QuickTime videos, which were used in multiple ways, including demonstrating cellular activity, and illustrating plant growth through time-lapsed photography. At the end of the design and development phase of the project, an instructional website was created with 259 content pages, including 237 illustrations and images, 124 interactive animations and 11 videos.
The lecture content was transformed from a traditional on-campus lecture to a distance education website for use both as a stand-alone course and as an adjunct to the on-campus course. A total of 109 students surveyed in three separate years rated the course on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very poor and 5 being very good, and the mean score as a whole was 4.16. Ninety-eight percent of the students said they would take another online course.
Several difficulties were encountered in the implementation of the web course. Some students had difficulty down-loading the large file sizes of audio and video components, as no minimum specifications for computer hardware, software, and internet access speed were required for students to enroll. In addition, obtaining funding to edit and improve the site has been difficult, which is an essential component of the interactive tools provided by the site.
The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at http://www.jnrlse.org/pdf/2009/E08-0003n.pdf. After 30 days it will be available at the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education website, www.jnrlse.org. Go to http://www.jnrlse.org/issues/ (Click on the Year, "View Article List," and scroll down to article abstract).
Today's educators are looking to the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, http://www.jnrlse.org, for the latest teaching techniques in the life sciences, natural resources, and agriculture. The journal is continuously updated online during the year and one hard copy is published in December by the American Society of Agronomy.
The Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), founded in 1955, is an international scientific society comprised of 6,000+ members with its headquarters in Madison, WI. Members advance the discipline of crop science by acquiring and disseminating information about crop breeding and genetics; crop physiology; crop ecology, management, and quality; seed physiology, production, and technology; turfgrass science; forage and grazinglands; genomics, molecular genetics, and biotechnology; and biomedical and enhanced plants.
CSSA fosters the transfer of knowledge through an array of programs and services, including publications, meetings, career services, and science policy initiatives. For more information, visit www.crops.org
Sara Uttech | Newswise Science News
Microjet generator for highly viscous fluids
13.02.2018 | Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
Sweet route to greater yields
08.02.2018 | Rothamsted Research
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
20.02.2018 | Life Sciences
20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering
20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy