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Online Teaching Of "Energy & The Environment"

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.901.1 - 8.901.9

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Paper Authors

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Mark Wherley

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David DiBiase

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Eric Spielvogel

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Jonathan Mathews

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Sarma Pisupati

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2793

Online Teaching of “Energy & The Environment”

Jonathan P. Mathews*, Eric Spielvogel, Mark Wherley, David DiBiase, and Sarma Pisupati* The e-Education Institute and *Department of Energy & Geo-Environmental Engineering, College of Earth & Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University

Abstract In the Fall of 2002, the Department of Energy & Geo-Environmental Engineering (EGEE) in collaboration with “The John A. Dutton e-Education Institute” (College of Earth and Mineral Sciences) offered a 3-credit web-only version of the existing resident class “Energy & the Environment” at The Pennsylvania State University. The goal of the project was to enable students at any of the University’s 25 campus locations, including its virtual “World Campus,” to participate in the same high-quality, online, learning experience. Expected outcomes included increased enrollments (overcoming room availability issues) and, by virtue of the fact that students would be enabled to study at times and places most convenient to them, a more student- centered learning environment than is typically encountered in large classroom settings. The methodologies and techniques employed to transform an existing lecture-based resident class into a compelling and engaging web-only learning environment are discussed. The goal of this paper, then, is to report what is entailed pedagogically, institutionally, and individually in such a large-scale project in online teaching and learning. Opportunities for formal evaluation of student engagement, and of the relationship between engagement and learning, are also discussed.

Designing and creating an engaging, interactive experience, structuring content for web delivery, and maintaining the dynamic presence of the professor within a virtual environment were all important in the design decisions. The primary challenges were revising the class content to make it appropriate for independent learning, taking full advantage of the technologies and flexibility of the web environment, and enhancing the student-faculty communications despite all interaction taking place entirely across multiple-campuses via an asynchronous network. The application of numerous web-based technologies permitted more interactivity throughout the course resources. Examples of some of these techniques include: mouse-enabled dynamic text and visuals, animated images, charts, and graphs, flash animations, user-controlled 3-D molecular graphics, interactive concept maps, and various computer-based quizzing tools (enabling learning through both success and failures).

Combined, these approaches increased the level of active learning in the course, and the professor’s dynamic nature and personality remained quite intact throughout the course through the use of audio, images, movies, writing style, and various communications channels (audio emails, written emails, and threaded discussions) afforded by the course management system and web environment. Together, these approaches produced an engaging online environment for

“Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Wherley, M., & DiBiase, D., & Spielvogel, E., & Mathews, J., & Pisupati, S. (2003, June), Online Teaching Of "Energy & The Environment" Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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