This site boasts a collection of science-based materials from soil to the solar system. It is an actual science course that can be taken for graduate credit (for a reasonable fee). Registering and participation is free. You must register in order to get a certificate of completion. This course and website are designed for K-6 teachers as they attempt to master their knowledge and understanding of Earth and Space Science. There are 8 separate sessions that each include sub-sections titled Introduction, A Closer Look,Children, Ideas and Featured Classroom. The 8 separate sessions include material like Earth's Solid Membrane, Every Rock Tells A Story, Journey to the Earth's Interior, The Engine that Drives the Earth, When Continents Collide, Restless Landscapes, Our Nearest Neighbor, and Order Out of Chaos.
Learn the basics of earth and space science
Target Student Population:
This material is designed for graduate level classes in college. It works well with Teacher Ed as well as educator professional development. This is also a good site for curriculum development instruction (for teachers).
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Learners should have background knowledge of science, teaching standards, and the effective design of lesson plans that teach science.
Type of Material:
The material is lecture, direct instruction throughout. It does involve student interaction through interviews with K-6 students about their understandings. The video component adds a quality visual element to the online course.
This program would be ideal for many teachers (especially those in more remote areas of the country without easy access to a higher education institution) to learn the basics of earth and space science. It should be useful in helping teachers become NCLB compliant and more competent to facilitate student learning in the earth and space sciences. The focus is on teachers of K-6 grades, but this reviewer sees this resource as equally valuable to many middle level grade science teachers.
Web browser like Safari or Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player or Quicktime; printers to print any applicable resources, high speed modem/DSL, PDF reader.
Evaluation and Observation
Content is accurate, complete, and up to date. Content appears to be reliable and is well organized into a 4-tab system. Content is especially important throughout and is presented with numerous Videos on Demand and hyperlinks to supporting sources.
With any online course, the interactive field component is lacking, but the authors come as close as possible to providing a real life experience through the video element included.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Very effective threaded discussions (channel-talk). The support materials are valuable and pertinent to the goals/objectives of this site and course. This site is current and well-organized. It appeals to different learning styles and kept me focused with little time to get lost in the site content. The different videos and workshops offer an array of possibilities for any student/educator.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Search engine browses by grade level and discipline. Website is well organized and there are links that are clearly defined. Although the site map is almost intimidating, it is very effective as it maps the website for any explorer's benefit. Site is easy to navigate and moves with fluidity from concept to concept. FAQ section is an effective resource for the person who needs instant answers to their questions.
Some difficulty getting Safari web browser to play the VOD.
Other Issues and Comments:
Wonderful resource for educators. Take the time to explore this resource in order to fully benefit from its effectiveness.