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Thread: Astronomy Class on BAUT, perhaps???

  1. #31
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    The choice of course material will have a lot to do with the load on the instructor. So far we have, I think...

    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]


    I favor the Wiki books idea at this point. The development done here would greatly contribute there. However, this would be a fair amount of work. Yet, many of us will likely get involved. The instructor might serve more as an organizer and editor, perhaps.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fazor View Post
    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.
    I completely agree. I had mentioned earlier that multiple instructors would be the way to go so that lectures could be divided among those that have particular interest/knowledge/insight into each topic could get started on development of the more difficult topics while the basics/refresher stuff was being covered.
    Last edited by Kelfazin; 2006-Nov-15 at 09:10 PM. Reason: to add who I was responding to

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    The choice of course material will have a lot to do with the load on the instructor. So far we have, I think...

    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]

    I favor the Wiki books idea at this point. The development done here would greatly contribute there. However, this would be a fair amount of work. Yet, many of us will likely get involved. The instructor might serve more as an organizer and editor, perhaps.

    So in this setup there are multiple contributors and one instructor? Since the lessons would not be derived from an existing textbook, if the contributors had a disagreement, the instructor would step in and provide the "official" answer? I guess I'm a little confused, could you walk through the steps this kind of lesson would take?

    And just for edification, I don't think the instructors should create a new textbook, just a curriculum, similar to school teachers use an existing book to create a lesson plan. ie: read the chapter, have a lecture on that chapter, then have a question answer period about the lecture/chapter, which would actually fit with any of the above course material concepts

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelfazin View Post
    So in this setup there are multiple contributors and one instructor? Since the lessons would not be derived from an existing textbook, if the contributors had a disagreement, the instructor would step in and provide the "official" answer? I guess I'm a little confused, could you walk through the steps this kind of lesson would take?
    Here is one suggestion....
    The instructor can post all the subtopics he/she would like others to provide material and research. We students could pick and choose ones we liked and put our names down as potential helpers. Assignments would then be given out accordingly. When each assignment is complete, it would go directly to the instructor for review. It would then be edited and compiled with the other subtopics to complete the chapter. Once complete, it would then be introduced as the student material for the class.

    This allows a great deal of personal involvement with the course. Judging by the calibre of people here, I think it just might work.

    And just for edification, I don't think the instructors should create a new textbook, just a curriculum, similar to school teachers use an existing book to create a lesson plan. ie: read the chapter, have a lecture on that chapter, then have a question answer period about the lecture/chapter, which would actually fit with any of the above course material concepts
    That was how I orginally saw it and recommended a couple of good textbooks, not that there are not better ones. However, the Wiki books idea I think would be more enjoyable due to the personal involvement. Also, Wiki books would greatly benefit by our efforts, thus giving us further reward.

    We need antoniseb's thoughts on this, as well as, any other experienced teacher (even if they aren't able to get involved). It is important not to overburden anyone. Hopefully, we can figure out the maximum amount of juice we can get for a minimal amount of squeeze.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  5. #35
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    Okay, I've stickied the topic. Just to keep it visible.

    I also vote for the Wikibooks direction. No need to duplicate our efforts. They've got a good structure that we can invade and improve.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fraser View Post
    Okay, I've stickied the topic. Just to keep it visible.

    I also vote for the Wikibooks direction. No need to duplicate our efforts. They've got a good structure that we can invade and improve.
    Thanks for making the sticky fraser, I vote for the wikibooks direction as well.
    I can probably do alot of basic research on a couple of ares that we have to ourselves and maybe flesh out a couple of the sections that wikibooks has already done. I do not CGI and will need held doing any graphics.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Here is one suggestion....
    The instructor can post all the subtopics he/she would like others to provide material and research. We students could pick and choose ones we liked and put our names down as potential helpers. Assignments would then be given out accordingly. When each assignment is complete, it would go directly to the instructor for review. It would then be edited and compiled with the other subtopics to complete the chapter. Once complete, it would then be introduced as the student material for the class.

    This allows a great deal of personal involvement with the course. Judging by the calibre of people here, I think it just might work.
    So in effect the students would be writing the book? This is ok, except that means each student would only learn the subtopic they had chosen, and then it would be self-teaching with guidance. Not exactly the more formal approach to getting an education in astronomy I was hoping for. I've already been self-teaching astronomy

    Maybe a different way would be to tackle each chapter of the Wiki one at a time as a class. The instructor chooses the subject, provides the lecture/Q&A, and then as a class we write up/edit the Wiki entry? While that is happening a different instructor could be prepping the lecture for the next chapter.

    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    That was how I orginally saw it and recommended a couple of good textbooks, not that there are not better ones. However, the Wiki books idea I think would be more enjoyable due to the personal involvement. Also, Wiki books would greatly benefit by our efforts, thus giving us further reward.

    We need antoniseb's thoughts on this, as well as, any other experienced teacher (even if they aren't able to get involved). It is important not to overburden anyone. Hopefully, we can figure out the maximum amount of juice we can get for a minimal amount of squeeze.
    I like the idea of using the Wikibook for course material as well. It's the most logical approach, and makes a contribution to science education on the internet at the same time.

  8. #38
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    I'd be interested in the course.
    I have fairly good basic math but would have to relearn calculus if that enters into it.
    I did take freshman physics too but that was 30 years ago as well.
    As far as astronomy goes I can identify Casseopia, Orion and the Big Dipper but have no idea what time of year they are visible or where to start looking for them in the sky, so I am basically illiterate about it.
    I inherited a small tripod mounted telescope with az. and el. gearing but I use it for looking at deer and other animals on the far shore of our small lake.
    So yes, I'd be interested but a little nervous about handling it.

    If this is a go will we get an e-mail notice in advance of the start?

  9. #39
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    Well the instructor or contributors will probably will do most of the work and everyone can ask questions or point out flaws in grammer spelling or see something wrong (like editors). Some people are better in some areas then others would be, so we can of teach each other to a point as well.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelfazin View Post
    So in effect the students would be writing the book? This is ok, except that means each student would only learn the subtopic they had chosen...
    No, because no one would see the chapter material until the chapter was compiled and edited by the instructor; the students would not offer their work to the rest of the class.

    Somehow the instructor will need to receive help as a good class text with images and illustrations is typically 300 to 400 pages long. It would be unfair to burden any instructor, or group of instructors for that matter, with such a daunting task. Wiki books for astronomy is only about 20 or 30 pages long, though I only glanced at it, far short of a class textbook.

    The Wiki route will not be easy but I still vote for it, also. Here is one outline scenario to help...
    1) The instructor could issue a list of subtopics in a thread dedicated to this task.
    2) Students could volunteer their name for the subtopic they would like to assist the instructor in preparing for the final presentation.
    3)The instructor would assign the subtopics out to the students of choice. Maybe even several students could help prepare a subtopic. [This is strictly volunteer effort.]
    4) The students would submit their material only to the instructor and by a given date.
    5) The instructor, along with competent others, would edit the material as necessary.
    6) All the subtopic material would be compiled into a coherent chapter.
    7) Only now would this entire new chapter be presented to the class for study.
    7b) There could be multiday transitionary period to allow final input from others, including students.
    8) Test time. [Just how this is done needs some thought, too.]
    9) go back to step one for next chapter.

    Maybe a different way would be to tackle each chapter of the Wiki one at a time as a class. The instructor chooses the subject, provides the lecture/Q&A, and then as a class we write up/edit the Wiki entry? While that is happening a different instructor could be prepping the lecture for the next chapter.
    Yes, that is an alternative as well.

    I like the idea of using the Wikibook for course material as well. It's the most logical approach, and makes a contribution to science education on the internet at the same time.
    Agreed.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaydeehess View Post
    If this is a go will we get an e-mail notice in advance of the start?
    Maybe it is time for a sign-up thread, antoniseb. We each could state which would be a first choice in a course level (100, 200, 300, 400), then a second and third choice.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    The Wiki route will not be easy but I still vote for it, also. Here is one outline scenario to help...
    1) The instructor could issue a list of subtopics in a thread dedicated to this task.
    2) Students could volunteer their name for the subtopic they would like to assist the instructor in preparing for the final presentation.
    3)The instructor would assign the subtopics out to the students of choice. Maybe even several students could help prepare a subtopic. [This is strictly volunteer effort.]
    4) The students would submit their material only to the instructor and by a given date.
    5) The instructor, along with competent others, would edit the material as necessary.
    6) All the subtopic material would be compiled into a coherent chapter.
    7) Only now would this entire new chapter be presented to the class for study.
    7b) There could be multiday transitionary period to allow final input from others, including students.
    8) Test time. [Just how this is done needs some thought, too.]
    9) go back to step one for next chapter.
    Ah now I see. Yea that works for me

    Re: testing. You know how people have those blog quizzes? Like "Which Lord of the Rings Character are you?" Well I wonder if there is a website that lets you design your own test. Those tests often have html code results that you can post to your blog, maybe we can upload the results to the thread or something. That idea locks you into public test results, though, and I'm not sure we want that. And since the point of this class is to learn, the fact that it would be essentialy open book won't matter.

    Just a thought

  13. #43
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    Let me make one thing clear right off the bat -- I'm not trying to step on anyone's toes here. I throw this into the mix solely to inform my fellow BAUTers of what's out there...

    Prof. Richard Pogge teaches astronomy at The Ohio State University.

    Prof. Pogge is currently teaching Astronomy 161 -- and the class notes AND CLASS LECTURES are available on the web! The lectures are MP3's, and iTunes will work quite nicely as the subscription/download tool [/Voice Of Experience]

    Prof. Pogge taught Astronomy 162 in January of 2006 -- and last year's class notes AND CLASS LECTURES (as MP3's) are on the web too! It's unknown at this time if he's going to update this part in January as he's done with the Fall class.

    Use it for a guide in setting up a Doctor of BAUTology degree, or just listen for fun (162 is already on my mp3 player, and 161 is going on soon), or just fill up your hard drive to convince the boss you need a new one...

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie in Dayton View Post
    Prof. Pogge is currently teaching Astronomy 161
    While I haven't listened to this lecture, it seems likely that it is better prepared than anything I'd be presenting. Nice find Charlie.
    Forming opinions as we speak

  15. #45
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    Unfortunately, Charlie, it is copyrighted. Even if he gave us permission I doubt it could be added to Wiki books, if that is our direction. It could serve as a guide, I suppose. I'm not clear on all the copyright rules, however.
    Last edited by George; 2006-Nov-16 at 03:49 PM.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  16. #46
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    Before this class gets advertised, we might want to decide if a class size limit should be set, which also should be stated in any public promotion, right?
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  17. #47
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    What problems do you foresee from having a large class? Based on that, what limit do you propose we set?

  18. #48
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    There are some aspects of teaching that don't scale very well to many people, though to be honest I doubt that more than twenty people would sign up. Among the issues are that most people have some confusion over some issues during a class, and the instructor and assistants are available to help make things clear.

    For example, I can imagine that when we do the chapter about eclipsing binaries, that there will be several people who will not understand the relationship between the formulas and the physical reality. It only requires simple algebra, but some people have difficulty with formulas. It falls to the instructors to try and understand what the point of confusion is, and find a way to explain it again that makes more sense to this particular student. The more students, the more such issues per day have to be resolved. Too many students will make life not worth living for the instructor.
    Forming opinions as we speak

  19. #49
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    I would love to be a student, in addition to taking on copy-editing duties.

    I took algebra in college some seven or eight years ago, and while I did get taught higher math in high school, I cannot be said to have learned it, given that I didn't test out of algebra when I got to college.

    I took physics in high school, in the '93-'94 school year. I learned pretty much nothing, given that my teacher had a heart attack in November and got replaced for three months by a man with a doctorate in physics, and that, when Mr. Hsu did come back, we as a class did our level best to ensure that he didn't overtire himself by actually bothering to teach us much. (We did a lot of group work, with one person going up to him and asking the questions; very few lectures.)

    I have a pair of binoculars, but since I'm starting to have interesting issues with tremula in my hands (this may be temporary, but it wouldn't surprise me if I had one more medical condition to worry about), I'm not sure how successfully I can use them.

    I may or may not be able to afford a textbook proper, based on a lot of factors.

    Oh, and I, too, can identify Orion, Cassiopeia, and the Big Dipper. Orion is a winter constellation, Cassiopeia summer (though possibly close enough to Polaris that it's year-round?), and the Big Dipper is year round in the north of the sky.
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  20. #50
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    In a classical classroom I totally understand the problem with overcrowding, I just wonder if this particular setting would help aleviate those issues since the instructor won't be alone, s/he will have the support of the rest of the "staff" as well as the rest of the board. Having never had an online class I am only speculating, and I am in no way suggesting we put a strain on any of the voluntary instructors..I'm hoping the class can be fun for everyone involved.

    The way I see it, you need some additional information before you can think about limiting enrollment. You'll need to know how many instructors you have and what the lesson plan looks like. The first step should be to recruit the teachers. Step two is enroll the students. Step 3 is find the knowledge level of the students (like the "poll" idea above for who wants Astro 100, 200, 300 or 400). Step 4 is establish the curriculum/lesson plan. Step 5 is deciding how many students can be enrolled at one time based on the lesson plan/instructor availability.

  21. #51
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    I had an online sociology class in college, it used a message board format with a weekly hour-long IRC chat "classroom" where the professor presented new material and asked questions in a more traditional way.

    I'm not proposing this format though, because the logistics of setting up "chat time" for a global audience that all have jobs, families, whatever just isn't feasable. But I think it would be cool if we could set up some sort of chat room for people to discuss class related stuff at thier leisure. Dunno if IRC is still even around much, with the prevalance of IM programs. *shrugs*

  22. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelfazin View Post
    What problems do you foresee from having a large class? Based on that, what limit do you propose we set?

    Not being a teacher, I don't really know the problems. I see antoniseb has mentioned an important limitation; other considerations might be in test grading and having too many posters making threads too large to enjoy.

    Actually, I was a little more concerned with the prospect of promoting this to the point we found ourselves with more students than we could effectively handle. I would guess it would be wise to state class limitations with any promotions, IMO. Also, this might actually help get more students to commit if they know they might miss the boat by procrastinating.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelfazin
    The way I see it, you need some additional information before you can think about limiting enrollment. You'll need to know how many instructors you have and what the lesson plan looks like. The first step should be to recruit the teachers.
    This makes sense to me too. Since the format seems to favor doing a textbook almost from scratch, instructors will see what their work load might be like. Our willingness to help also is important in their consideration to doing something this demanding.

    Step two is enroll the students. Step 3 is find the knowledge level of the students (like the "poll" idea above for who wants Astro 100, 200, 300 or 400). Step 4 is establish the curriculum/lesson plan. Step 5 is deciding how many students can be enrolled at one time based on the lesson plan/instructor availability
    I like all this, but I wanted to offer my minor concern for having too many students in a course before we reached step 5.

    I wonder if there are any other forums doing anything like this to give us advice?
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  23. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    <snip>
    Actually, I was a little more concerned with the prospect of promoting this to the point we found ourselves with more students than we could effectively handle. I would guess it would be wise to state class limitations with any promotions, IMO. Also, this might actually help get more students to commit if they know they might miss the boat by procrastinating.

    <snip>
    Yea I guess I see your point here. Maybe an exploratory advertisement using the poll function? The body of the post could lay out the requirements stating that you should only click "yes" if you absolutely plan on enrolling once the class is opened and breaking down the basic premise, highlighting that this will actually be school-type work that will require serious students only or something.

  24. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelfazin View Post
    Yea I guess I see your point here. Maybe an exploratory advertisement using the poll function? The body of the post could lay out the requirements stating that you should only click "yes" if you absolutely plan on enrolling once the class is opened and breaking down the basic premise, highlighting that this will actually be school-type work that will require serious students only or something.
    Yes, but your earlier suggestion to include which level of class they desire is also important.

    How about a poll that states something like....

    Care to Join the New BAUT Astronomy Class (likely January)?
    O Yes, 100 course level
    O Yes, 200 course level
    O Yes, 300 course level
    O Yes, 400 course level
    O Not at this time

    Then the OP would ask those that said yes what is their priority wish list of class level....100, 200, 300, or 400? Some, like me, might be willing to try any level course but would be more interested in a certain level.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  25. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Yes, but your earlier suggestion to include which level of class they desire is also important.

    How about a poll that states something like....

    Care to Join the New BAUT Astronomy Class (likely January)?
    O Yes, 100 course level
    O Yes, 200 course level
    O Yes, 300 course level
    O Yes, 400 course level
    O Not at this time

    Then the OP would ask those that said yes what is their priority wish list of class level....100, 200, 300, or 400? Some, like me, might be willing to try any level course but would be more interested in a certain level.
    We would probably want a better description of the course level, since different people/universities may use different schemes. I would suggest something like:

    Care to Join the New BAUT Astronomy Class (likely January)?
    O Yes, with minimal math
    O Yes, with college-level algebra
    O Yes, with calculus
    O Not at this time

    I, personally, would like to see the second option done. It can be accessible enough to most everybody, IMO, and still cover the concepts and physical relations well.

  26. #56
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    Yes, Tobin Dax, I think that is more apt. as the math issue is in most would-be student's minds.

    Let's see if anyone else can tweak it any further, then initiate tomorrow.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  27. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin Dax View Post
    I, personally, would like to see the second option done. It can be accessible enough to most everybody, IMO, and still cover the concepts and physical relations well.
    BTW, this is quite true. Hester's textbook has very little math in it yet the quality and depth of the chapters are both rich; some chapters are written by famous astronomers, too.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  28. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Yes, Tobin Dax, I think that is more apt. as the math issue is in most would-be student's minds.

    Let's see if anyone else can tweak it any further, then initiate tomorrow.

    Ok how about a mixture?

    Care to Join the New BAUT Astronomy Class (likely January)?
    O Yes, Introductory level with minimal math
    O Yes, Basic level with college-level algebra
    O Yes, Advanced level with calculus
    O Not at this time

  29. #59
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    I vote for as little math as possible.
    _____________________________________________
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    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  30. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelfazin View Post
    Ok how about a mixture?

    Care to Join the New BAUT Astronomy Class (likely January)?
    O Yes, Introductory level with minimal math
    O Yes, Basic level with college-level algebra
    O Yes, Advanced level with calculus
    O Not at this time
    That works ok for me. Can we get all that in a poll questionare?
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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