87th AMS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, 16 January 2007: 4:30 PM
Offering Advanced Meteorology Education at a Distance: The COMET Planetary Boundary Layer Symposium
206B (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Bruce Muller, UCAR/COMET, Boulder, CO; and J. P. Lamos, B. C. Motta, and B. Greg
The COMAP Boundary Layer Symposium has traditionally been a residence classroom course taking place over 4.5 days at the COMET classroom facility in Boulder, Colorado. With an eye towards reducing travel costs in the NWS training budget, the COMET Program proposed offering it as a synchronous on-line or “virtual” symposium. Instructors will be broadcasting their presentations and lab assignments from the COMET classroom via the Internet to participants located at their local forecast offices. The August 2004 in-residence offering of the Symposium serves as the basis for converting the course from the traditional on-site offering to an on-line version. The first virtual offering takes place in September, 2006.

The training/performance goal of the symposium is to improve the operational understanding of PBL processes and, thereby, improve the accuracy of weather forecasts which have high temporal and spatial resolution. The course is anchored scientifically through an improved understanding of components in the surface energy budget. Operational application of these fundamental concepts ranges from predicting the depth of the PBL, to the vertical transport of heat, moisture and momentum, and the impact of small-scale processes on larger-scale phenomena. The challenge for students will be implementation of this knowledge at the local WFO. Participants have opportunities to share information on local boundary layer issues during the course.

In addition to the training goals there are several instructional issues and goals related to creating an effective learning experience for remote participants. This is COMET's first comprehensive course offered solely to off-site students. As such, many of the goals of this project address technical concerns and curriculum development as they pertain to on-line course offerings. These goals include:

• Revising the existing curriculum to best match the constraints of a synchronous on-line course and the technologies used for distributing such a course; • Developing a course website that effectively builds and supports a learning community; • Identifying the most effective tool(s), within our current means, for broadcasting (and recording for reuse) presentations; •Identifying a suitable format for presenting interactive case studies at a distance.

We will report on the successes and lessons learned from offering an advanced meteorology symposium at a distance and will discuss how this experience may serve as a model for offering advanced meteorological education and training at a distance.

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