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Paper: Astro 101 & Beyond: Online Undergrad B.S. Degree
Volume: 533, ASP 2021: Sharing Best Practices – AstronomyTeaching and Public Engagement
Page: 192
Authors: Knierman, K. A.; Ashcraft, T. A.
Abstract: In Fall 2020, the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University began its 100% online undergraduate degree in Astronomical and Planetary Sciences. This degree is one of the world's first online astronomy Bachelor of Science degrees. Offered through ASU Online, this innovative degree will prepare students for many careers including K–12 STEM teaching, technology and science journalism and writing, public outreach, science communication officer, science policy, statistical data analysis, and computer programming. The degree program includes groundwork in mathematics and physical sciences, topical courses focused on diverse fields within astronomy and planetary science, and exposure to the engineering and computational tools and techniques used to carry out research. Students who are interested in going to graduate school in Astrophysics would need additional advanced coursework not currently offered online. We have developed new online courses and redesigned existing ones in support of this degree. By utilizing innovative learning techniques and technologies for the online realm, we are able to provide an interactive experience for online students. Our existing online AST 101 courses, also taken by many non-majors, have been redesigned and feature new online adaptive and interactive laboratory experiences created with the ASU Center for Education through eXploration (ETX). New project-based courses include the topics of Science Communication, Stellar Astrophysics, and Problem Solving using Python. Solving the problems of collaborative group work in online upper division courses has benefited from piloting new tools and technology in remotely taught in-person courses during the pandemic. We are also developing research opportunities for our online students including remote and short on-campus experiences. Currently, over 230 students in our degree program are enrolled in courses this semester with numbers steadily increasing each week.
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