Oceanworld is an open source resource of reference material and lesson plans about oceanography built on a vision that welcomes additional contributions from all. Thus Ocean World might expand to become a work of the ocean community as others contribute. Lesson topics now include Properties of the Ocean, Ocean Currents and Circulation, El Ni?o, the Oceanic Heat Budget, and Fisheries. Included is an Open Source textbook, Introduction to Physical Oceanography, by Robert H. Stewart in both html and pdf format. Lesson plans are for group labs, hands-on activities, context-rich problem solving, independent studies and computer based activities.
The Classroom Activities are built on the common themes of: Systems and Structures, Energy, Change, Interactions, and Measurement. These Classroom Activities are intended to provide a starting point for each instructor to mold or change content to fit the needs of an individual class.
Target Student Population:
The Ocean World site proposes to serve all levels and all educators, novice techies and expert techies. This portion targets Middle and High School instructors.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Pre-requisite skills include Web Searches, Teacher Chat Rooms and Listserves, E-mail, Powerpoint, and knowledge of Educational Technology Issues, but a link at the bottom of the list of resources introduces each of these skills to novice users.
Type of Material:
The material includes lesson plans with links to primary data.
This material would be quite useful in science methods courses to illustrate how primary sources can be used to develop understanding of important content while addressing national science standards.
Many of the materials assume that students will have web-access. Navigation skills are needed since some links lead one away from Ocean World where the back button does not work. It would be useful for users to know how to open links as a new browser window.
Evaluation and Observation
This site is an excellent collection of resources for marine science teachers, who can either adapt lessons for their classes, or use them directly from the site without alteration. Each of the the common themes of Systems and Structures, Energy, Change, Interactions, and Measurement is addressed within the context of oceanography with lessons that provide Objectives, Key Concepts, a Classroom Activity with Assessment, and Resources. The content is closely aligned to national science standards and benchmarks. The site covers all the major aspects of physical oceanography, including currents, waves, the physical properties of water, weather and the oceanic heat budget. It also covers ocean ecology in a fisheries section. The lesson on El Nino (under the theme CHANGE) is outstanding in that it invites students to explore real-time data. Teams are assessed on critical thinking: how well their stance is supported by research findings and how creatively and clearly the information is presented (argument).
Other outstanding topic sections with links to real-time or near-time data include fisheries, currents, icebergs, and weather, among others.
An embedded glossary is a great feature.
An ontological organization (hierarchy) for the glossary would be helpful to novices who often learn new content as lists of terms.
The materials are weighted towards physical oceanography, though the author has called for submissions of more materials. This is not suprising, considering that the author is a physical oceanographer, but the site will be even better with additional content.
While most of the activities are outstanding,
a few seem to be busy-work (fishprints). The authors might want to add a user rating system where teachers could rate activities in terms of the degree to which they help learners meet specific standards.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Descriptions of six types of generic technology lab stations suggest pedagogically appropriate ways a teacher might structure activities into a sequence for individual units of study. The types of instruction include Teacher Introduction and Discussions (Whole Group), Independent Learning (Teams), Manipulatives (Teams), Problem-Solving (Teams), Audio-Visual or Multi-Media (Teams), and Multipurpose (Teams). Components of many example lessons built according to these models provide specific learning objectives, key concepts and references plus links to other resources useful for each unit. Teacher support materials give a detailed Description, Student Materials, Station Equipment, Activities, State Standards (Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS)), National Standards and Benchmarks, and Assessment.
At first, the topics for more info seem to be prescribed in a sequence with a prominent FORWARD button and text readings that may not be useful to many learners. The authors may want to highlight the section explaining how the topic navigation is designed for students to find the information quickly, with navigation bar quick links to jump between points in the topic pages, as well as lists of the images (by title), an interactive quiz, and real-time or near-time data links as an outstanding feature that should be useful to most students. The printable version of most pages is helpful to students who learn better when they highlight or outline. Since the printable pages lack the graphics that in many cases capture interest,
students should learn how to use the Online image links for each section while they read the print pages.
Without looking at the standards addressed, it is not immediately apparent at what level each lesson is aimed. Some seem to be appropriate for middle school science, some for high school, but the level for each lesson is not labeled.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The information organization and layout are good, the color and page graphics are appealing, and the navigation structure makes sense. The material is broken up into individual units, which are easily accessible through a topic tree.
Users can print content from the OceanWorld site with a Printer Friendly Page Icon at the bottom of most pages. This links to another page with less graphics and formatted to fit on a standard print page. The pdf version of an open source textbook link from the home page even has an index and references.
Some external links do not work, such as
http://www.accessexcellence.com/atg/released/0276-LenoreKop/index.html in the fish prints activity. Other links are unclear: one recommends the user to click on World of Density and Density Layering in the Teacher Workroom under Classroom Activities from a page where none of these headings appear.
Other Issues and Comments:
Oceanworld is an excellent site, which has both great content and a well designed interface. We welcome access to this open source textbook and links to real data. Although this site should be a primary resource for middle and high school instructors of marine science, it may be even more valuable as an example of powerful use of frameworks to provide structure for pedagogical design. With a clear structure,
we hope that the content will continue to grow and remain up-to-date.
Hopefully, additional funding and tech support will make it possible to add an index with hyperlinks to the web page version of the textbook.