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Paper: Trench Report of Teaching Intro Astro Online for 20 Years
Volume: 531, ASP2020: Embracing the Future: Astronomy Teaching and Public Engagement
Page: 277
Authors: Lahaise, U.
Abstract: Teaching Intro Astronomy online asynchronously for non-science majors for 20 years at a non-residential 2 year college with a diverse, non-traditional student population starting in 2000, going through multiple updates of technologies, online teaching standards and methodology, learning management systems, the most important factors are still, on one hand, the student's personal situation (preparedness, motivation, life circumstances) and interaction with the teacher (by email, discussion comments, assessment feedback, live web sessions) and their classmates (discussion comments, study groups, social media chat groups), and, on the other hand, their ability to interact effectively with the course structure, material, assessments, and support resources through the added layers of technology and isolation, in order to succeed. Historically, online classes have much higher DWF rates than face to face classes which is the most pressing challenge to overcome now that the majority of teachers and students are forced to conduct at least part if not all of their teaching and learning online. My mostly non-traditional students are a good representation of the general population in terms of complex and challenging life situations (family, work, technology access, finances) which often make it difficult for them to allocate the necessary amount of time, cognitive energy and confidence, technological preparedness, and social support to be able to persist in and successfully pass the course. This is especially true for non-science majors taking the more quantitatively and technologically challenging Astronomy Laboratories which forces them to directly engage with their STEM-phobia isolated in space and time and by technology. What has worked to improve student success? What has not worked? On the course level? On the college level? What is Georgia State University doing right now to establish itself as a high quality/high standard regional leader in providing online education?
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