DEVELOPING ONLINE PHYSICAL GEOLOGY LECTURE AND LABORATORY – BEST PRACTICES
An introductory letter is sent before class starts, outlining software and hardware requirements and course expectations. Ideally, all course material is available online when the semester starts. Short screen-capture videos map the course delivery system. Students learn the new technology in low stakes situations; initial assignments do not contribute toward final grade.
Learning takes place on the textbook website and through course delivery system. Lectures and demonstrations are recorded with audio and visual components. Final grade percentages are calculated using: exams 45%, discussion 20%, quizzes 15%, text learning modules 5%, and group/individual assignments 15%. Digital feedback is provided for every aspect.
Laboratory materials (minerals, rocks, testing equipment, etc.) are sent or picked up, then returned. Lab manual exercises are completed, scanned and uploaded within 2 days; digital feedback is provided quickly. Weekly topical quizzes evaluate learning, as do midterm and final exams.
Discussions give students a chance to feel connected, provide an opportunity to learn from each other, and display understanding through engagement with and application of course material. Discussion forums include questions, topics, and role-play (example: XL Pipeline pro and con teams worked well). Weekly discussion grading-rubric criteria for full credit is: participant made at least 4 postings, 1 in response to a classmate; comments were responsive to discussion threads; referred to or showed evidence of having read or completed relevant assignments; postings were constructive and differences of opinions were expressed in respectful manner.
Cheating online is minimized with timed exams to limit opportunity to look things up, and by lowered exam weight. Questions are randomized and drawn from a pool. Short-answer questions are included; questions easily answered by Googling are avoided.