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Thread: Astronomy Class on BAUT, perhaps???

  1. #1
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    Astronomy Class on BAUT, perhaps???

    Yes, an astronomy class right here on BAUT is the idea at hand. What are your thoughts about it?

    The goal is to establish a semi-formal approach in learning about astronomy by dedicating a thread to be used as a class-like learning experience. Since many here do not have the time or money for formal schooling, maybe a dedicated BAUT thread can serve as a great alternative.

    Just how this could be done most effectively is now "on the table". Perhaps those interested would all purchase a selected textbook to use and we would go through it chapter by chapter, maybe one chapter a week. Having tests are certainly a possibility, too.

    What if some university someday allows advanced placement? This would allow folks who already have a degree - which means they may have completed all the non-astronomy course requirements - a chance for advance placing through the easier courses and enter at the appropriate level. Maybe this is already happening; I am too long out of college to know.

    Anyway, what say thee?
    __________________________________________
    Updated from subsequent posts.....

    Considerations and Recommendations Summary, thus far….
    [Note that some are just ideas and may be mutually exclusive with others]

    Course Speed and Time:
    ..... Take it slow, half the normal rate [antoniseb]
    .......... Assign time frame per chapter [George]
    .......... Let chapter test dates set pace [George]
    ….. Hours? [Tobin Dax]

    Course Level:
    ..... Establish one [Tobin Dax]
    ..... Introductory level (minimal math) [danscope/Moose/
    ..... Two course levels offered [Kelfazin]

    Course Material:
    ..... Web based [antoniseb/George]
    .......... Wiki books (similar to or upgrade these “books”) [Fraser 17/davidlpf 20/Tobin Dax 21]
    ..... Actual textbook [George]
    ..... Create a new one [George]
    .......... Parcel out the lesson creations [Kelfazin 19]
    ….. CGI [Argos 24]

    Format:
    ..... One master thread [George]
    ..... One thread per chapter [George/antoniseb]
    .......... Single thread for teaching text, then separate discussion subforum for discussion threads [Nicholas Bostaph]
    ......... Allow only instructors to answer questions [Kelfazin 19]
    ......... Each chapter on separate web page [antoniseb 65]
    ….. Subclass (eg math) [Serenitude 23]
    ..... Mini course first step [Fraser 65/Swift 70]

    Tests:
    ..... Yes [George/
    .......... Post scores [George]

    Class Membership:
    ..... Limit to subscribed members only [Fazor]

    Equipment requirements:
    ..... Keep to a minimum (eg binoculars) [Moose]
    ..... Be mindful of limited computer capability of members

    Course Recognitions:
    ..... Certificates for completion [George/Serenitude 23]
    ..... Gold stars for high test scores [Fazor]
    Last edited by George; 2006-Nov-18 at 03:51 AM.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  2. #2
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    College board advanced placement has 37 courses and exams across 22 subject areas, but not astronomy. Coming soon: Chinese, and Japanese.

  3. #3
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    I would recommend doing the course at one half the normal pace as normal instructor lead training. There are probably better people on the forum to teach this class, but as a fallback position, I am willing to teach it. We'll need to get a list of who is interested, and identify a text-book. It would be a plus for some if the text-book was on the web.

    Question for would-be students: What should we assume for your level of understanding of math, chemistry, and physics? This strongly affects the content of what would be presented.
    Forming opinions as we speak

  4. #4
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    This is an interesting idea. I like it. antonioseb's half-pace suggestion is a good one. I would be willing to help with the teaching and administrative stuff if I'm not too busy. My biggest question is what level are we teaching at?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by hhEb09'1 View Post
    College board advanced placement has 37 courses and exams across 22 subject areas, but not astronomy. Coming soon: Chinese, and Japanese.
    Hopefully that changes and when it does, some of us will be ready.

    Except for the two Australian on-line programs, there is no on-line degree program that I know of either. This should change, too, hopefully.

    Quote Originally Posted by antoniseb
    I would recommend doing the course at one half the normal pace as normal instructor lead training.
    Yes, most of us are busy with other irons in the fire. Perhaps a stated time frame for chapters or maybe a test date will be a delineator, if tests are given.


    There are probably better people on the forum to teach this class, but as a fallback position, I am willing to teach it. We'll need to get a list of who is interested, and identify a text-book.
    Thanks for the support.

    Hopefully, many will be interested in doing this.

    It would be a plus for some if the text-book was on the web.
    Are there any? [If not] I would be willing to order one if necessary.
    Last edited by George; 2006-Nov-13 at 10:47 PM.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  6. #6
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    I would also highly recommend proofing it in at least two ways--once for fact and once for grammar/spelling. The simple fact is, I don't even proof my own stuff, because I tend to see what I meant to be there instead of what is. I'm no good at the former, as we all know, but I'm willing to volunteer for the latter.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by antoniseb View Post
    Question for would-be students: What should we assume for your level of understanding of math, chemistry, and physics? This strongly affects the content of what would be presented.
    I would expect to be capable of handling a college sophmore or junior level course. A lesser level would still interest me but would be less enjoyable.

    There are likely some great benefits to doing a course here. Asking questions here are much easier than in a real classroom, as well as, answering them when more time and thought is allowed. As for graphics, as one Apple IIG salesman once said about his computer, there are "limitless capabilities" here.

    I would be glad to assist any teacher.

    Some other questions to ponder....
    1) Will this class be all on one thread, or a thread per chapter, or what?
    2) What ways can tests be done? Is annoymity - like we don't have it already - desired or do we post test results? [The only course I ever had that posted my grades on the wall for all to see was chemistry where I once scored a -8 (out of 100), so my feelings have been indifferent ever since. . BTW, I am a little weak in chemistry.]
    3) Will certificates of accomplishment be issued?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillanren
    I would also highly recommend proofing it in at least two ways--once for fact and once for grammar/spelling. The simple fact is, I don't even proof my own stuff, because I tend to see what I meant to be there instead of what is. I'm no good at the former, as we all know, but I'm willing to volunteer for the latter.
    I would assume this would already be done if we find an internet textbook or if we all purchase an existing course book. Nevertheless, it would be fun to write one from scratch with everyone's help, but it would be a much slower process, I expect.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by antoniseb View Post
    I would recommend doing the course at one half the normal pace as normal instructor lead training. There are probably better people on the forum to teach this class, but as a fallback position, I am willing to teach it. We'll need to get a list of who is interested, and identify a text-book. It would be a plus for some if the text-book was on the web.

    Question for would-be students: What should we assume for your level of understanding of math, chemistry, and physics? This strongly affects the content of what would be presented.
    Hi, I should welcome this class. My astronomy background has been
    formed over the years in parts, fragmented as such, a past time hobby.
    It would be wonderfull to polish it a little, with the guidance of gentlemen
    schooled in the disciplines, and with patience for the novice.
    A good reading list would help. Television and the odd magazine have been my primary influences. Thank you for your interest, and kind generosity.
    Your efforts will be greatly appreciated.
    Best regards, Dan

  9. 2006-Nov-14, 12:16 AM
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    Bugger it I'll just start over..

  10. #9
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    Yeah, I'd definitely be interested, so long as the math isn't too far over my head. I can handle freshman college math and physics without too much assistance. Past that, I'll need some remedial.

    The other thing to remember is not all of us have access to hardware for practical work. I have a pair of general-use binocs and a reasonably sheltered back porch, but the weather's been lousy this entire season. I'd rather not throw money into a junk scope, and that's all I could hypothetically afford this year.

    Antoniseb's suggestion of half-pacing such a course is a very good one.

  11. #10
    What about me? I read alot about physics and chemistry so I've got alot of the basics of a some concepts worked out already. Which is a bit vauge but I'm not entirly sure what I'm not aware of otherwise I would be, if you know what I mean...

    I've got a bit of a handle on astronomy anyway(can never remember the angle of orbits and such like though). I've got a fair few parts of the visual observing sussed out(been amatur astonoming for 3 years). Not sure so much about the optical side ot thing (like how to build telescopes).

  12. #11
    I am able to help whoever is teaching this course, I have taking some 2nd and 3rd year astronomy courses.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.

  13. #12
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    I would really welcome a course like this. I think the math would have to be relatively basic for many of us. I personally never even took calculus in school. I'm sure many others did, but over the years you tend to forget a lot of this stuff...




    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    1) Will this class be all on one thread, or a thread per chapter, or what?
    If we could get the support of the mods I think the best format would be to have a single sticky thread with each post covering a chapter. Then, setup a seperate subforum solely for this class and post a thread for each chapter. As a chapter is covered students could post comments and questions to that chapter's thread. This keeps the 'classroom' all in a single place and easily accessible, yet still allows everyone to comment and question.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas_Bostaph View Post
    If we could get the support of the mods I think the best format would be to have a single sticky thread with each post covering a chapter. Then, setup a seperate subforum solely for this class and post a thread for each chapter. As a chapter is covered students could post comments and questions to that chapter's thread. This keeps the 'classroom' all in a single place and easily accessible, yet still allows everyone to comment and question.
    This seems like a good idea. Another benefit I see with your idea is the quality of those textbook threads as they get modified by the teacher due to the subsequent posts in those other threads. One simply needs to read the locked textbook thread without digging through many posts for answers.

    As for those concerned with math, Hester's textbook seems to go out of the way to avoid math and atempts to get the reader to experience what scientists see. This may be only a freshman level course, however.
    Last edited by George; 2006-Nov-15 at 02:19 PM.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  15. #14
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    I definately like the idea. Of course, I love free (or relatively free) learning. Wouldn't mind a textbook, altho most cost between $80 and $140 USD. Just wondering, is there any way to limit the thread to suscribed participants? Definately don't want to exclude anyone, but "hit and run" posters, and people who aren't serious about the thread could be a serious detrement.

    ...PS. if you give tests, you better mail out gold star stickers so i can show them off on my fridge! YEAH!

  16. #15
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    If we are taking a vote, I would be interested too.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  17. #16
    I like the idea as well. Perhaps if there are enough of each of us with different levels of knowledge in the subject matter you could consider a "basic" astronomy course and an "advanced" astronomy course. Those of us with little math experience could certainly reap the benefits of a freshman course while those already deeper into the subject could be working at a junior level. You could just post the prerequisite skillset for each class and let us select which forum to subscribe to.

  18. #17
    I just wanted to lend my support to this idea. Let me know if you need additional software installed, configured, etc. I'm also happy to promote this in all my available channels (UT, Astronomy Cast, etc).

    Perhaps a Wiki might be a good format to do this? Maybe something similar to the Wikibooks.
    http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Astronomy

    There are a lot of unwritten sections in their book which we could complete, since it's open for editing by anyone. We could then integrate the wikibook entries back into this forum as part of the course. That would probably take a lot of hassle off everyone's hands, and encourage other people to contribute.

  19. #18
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    I like the wiki idea for a textbook. I think that works in a lot of ways. That does lead in to my next question, which is what exactly the chapter threads would be? Would they be lectures? (If so, how would they different than the textbook chapters? Spoken lectures aren't easily done here.) Would they be "office hours," the posting and answering of questions? Either way, they should include links to online animations and demos where possible. These would be things that exist on the web, but shouldn't be included in the wiki for whatever reason. Those are my thoughts on the topic.

    (That book also has *a lot* of holes and articles that are severely lacking.)

  20. #19
    Have the instructors develop a curriculum and then parcel out the lessons among themselves. This would give each instructor a chance to put together a lecture with any links/animations/pictures that may be needed and then when the time comes they can either open the thread they've been workin on to the class or they can post to the pre-existing thread, however the system is set up. Since the first few lectures should mainly be covering basics (or refresher stuff for the more advanced class, if you do indeed to go with a two-class system) they won't need to be particularly intense and should be fairly easily written up. Then it would be open to questions.

    On the point of questions, I think it would be beneficial to restrict answers to those that are labeled as instructors rather then shotgun-style answers from the general public/classroom. That way the students would know the answer they were receiving was "official."

  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin Dax View Post
    I like the wiki idea for a textbook. I think that works in a lot of ways. That does lead in to my next question, which is what exactly the chapter threads would be? Would they be lectures? (If so, how would they different than the textbook chapters? Spoken lectures aren't easily done here.) Would they be "office hours," the posting and answering of questions? Either way, they should include links to online animations and demos where possible. These would be things that exist on the web, but shouldn't be included in the wiki for whatever reason. Those are my thoughts on the topic.

    (That book also has *a lot* of holes and articles that are severely lacking.)
    Well with the book some of instructors will take some of missing parts and build a chapter from different sources at least that is what Fraser is referring to in his post and afterwards we post our chapter to the wiki. Also there is an astrophysics wiki and we could build up as well for the people looking for a more advanced level. At least this an idea what we could do.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidlpf View Post
    Well with the book some of instructors will take some of missing parts and build a chapter from different sources at least that is what Fraser is referring to in his post and afterwards we post our chapter to the wiki. Also there is an astrophysics wiki and we could build up as well for the people looking for a more advanced level. At least this an idea what we could do.
    I understood that the instructors would add to the wiki. It was just a lot less developed than I had hoped. I was definitely thinking about what to put in certain sections and about the subject headings and their order. But I see what you're saying: the chapters posted here would be posted to the wiki as well (modifiied appropriately, if necessary). That's also what we'd post for each chapter thread. That makes sense. That probaly is the best way to do it.

  23. #22
    The thing the people that will be the instructors probably have plenty of material draw on for there subjects. And each lecture would probably start of with a post with the material in that chapter but we still have plenty of things to discuss. I think is the fair thing because not everyone has high speed, may have diffeerent configurations on their systems.
    Last edited by TheOncomingStorm; 2006-Nov-15 at 06:49 AM. Reason: grammer
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.

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    I am ultra-excited about a course like this.

    As a sort of trial run, one could run a remedial maths class, as a refresher, and use it to work out the kinks, etc.. in the system. And I know I could use a refresher. That way we also know to what minimum standard we can teach to ;-)

    I would, besides taking all of the classes, be willing to do anything needed to enable them. My wife is good at doing the certificates - she's a schoolteacher, and does hundreds per year. We own the hardware and software, so it wouldn't be a problem at all. Honesly, anything at all I could do, I would do. Count my BIG in!

  25. #24
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    I´d also be willing to contribute to an BAUT astronomy tutorial. We could use CGI to spice the "classes" (there´s a lot of software out there, and Celestia is really your friend when it comes to this). I have a prototype - a skeleton - for an astronomy tutorial over the web. If you think that kind of material should be of any help on this project, let me know.

    My proof-of-concept - In Portuguese and in Flash (choose the 'sistema solar' tab and play the videos by clicking the button on the bottom left).

  26. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fraser View Post
    Perhaps a Wiki might be a good format to do this? Maybe something similar to the Wikibooks.
    http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Astronomy

    There are a lot of unwritten sections in their book which we could complete, since it's open for editing by anyone. We could then integrate the wikibook entries back into this forum as part of the course. That would probably take a lot of hassle off everyone's hands, and encourage other people to contribute.
    Yes, I had not seen this before. I like this idea. Most of us can likely contribute something to this.

    It is possible to have a basic level and an advanced level for each topic in a Wiki book. Once the basic statements for a given topic are made, a separate section (highlighted or colored or boxed, etc.) could be included to go deeper into the subject. This would be more work, but why have multiple Wiki books, one for each level, on the same subjects?
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  27. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Argos View Post
    I´d also be willing to contribute to an BAUT astronomy tutorial. We could use CGI to spice the "classes" (there´s a lot of software out there, and Celestia is really your friend when it comes to this). I have a prototype - a skeleton - for an astronomy tutorial over the web. If you think that kind of material should be of any help on this project, let me know.

    My proof-of-concept - In Portuguese and in Flash (choose the 'sistema solar' tab and play the videos by clicking the button on the bottom left).
    Yeah, I'm a CGI artist and would love to lend my skills. So when this thing materializes and a lesson plan/lecture series starts to fall into place, just let me know what you need as far as visualizations. Not too much of a chore for me to do.

  28. #27
    Ok so since this seems like something we all want to proceed with, we should start making a list of what needs to be done. A list of instructors, a list of students, a list of skills each person has, a course curriculum, forum setup, get articles written and uploaded, get the CGI people working on whatever needs to be CGI'd, etc. Is there somebody that could spearhead the project? It was your (brilliant) idea George, are you going to take the reins?

    I'm stoked. I want classes to start tomorrow

  29. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelfazin View Post
    Ok so since this seems like something we all want to proceed with, we should start making a list of what needs to be done.
    Yes. As for how it will be presented, I will try to summarize everyone's new ideas into the OP for all to consider. It will be updated as we progress.

    Is there somebody that could spearhead the project? It was your (brilliant) idea George, are you going to take the reins?
    [I assumed luminaries would be exempt. ]

    Let's all stay involved until we have established the plan. From there, the instructor can take control. He/she may have many of us helping on text and cgi, etc.

    At this point, I would recommend this news go out to other forums to attract all who would be interested. Obviously, this thing is going to happen one way or another; the more ideas we generate now, the better we can make this class.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  30. #29
    At the very least this thread needs to be stickied until we get something else in place that's permanent.

    As one of the potential students my skills are more geared towards home equity mortgages and banking compliance laws, so I don't think I'll be that helpful with anything other than ideas.

    I think there should be two additional threads started. A "Who wants to be an BAUT astronomy instructor?" and a " Who wants to be a BAUT astronomy student?" By compiling this initial information you can then begin to break down existing skillsets and interests and find who is strongest in which areas to help guide the formation of the lesson design and the assignments.

  31. #30
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    Well, seeing as it takes a lot of time to correctly and professionaly run a "class" of any kind, i think we should focus more on instructors, plural, than finding one instructor. Think it's a lot to ask of someone for no compensation. More feasable with multiple people. Maybe someone to kinda dirrect the whole thing. I was think'n maybe a seperate instructor/lecturer for each topic. instructors could do more than one, but that way they could take the load that each one could personally handle, and not get stuck doing too much.

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