Sunday, November 17, 2013

Update on teaching on-line

This semester I started an on-line course for ecosystem ecology.

We're about 80% of the way done in the semester and a few things stand out.

First, we have a test every 3 weeks. The students tend to binge-watch the lectures.

Here's the pattern of minutes viewed over time. You can tell where the exams are.

Second, it might not seem to be the best way to do this, but empirically, the students are learning. Multiple choice questions, they do well. When I give them an open ended question like, "What is something interesting you learned about spatial patterns of ecosystems?" they have picked up on interesting points that go beyond bullet points you study to. 

In all, you can never truly compare among approaches and I'd always want on-line ecology lectures to be coupled with field experiences, but this is an approach that should scale. The upside of providing content in this manner far outweighs any negatives, or positives of the classroom lectures. 

Official evaluations come later, but so far this was a promising experience.

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