89th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting

Monday, 12 January 2009
Online Oceanography alternative science course for St. Philip's College, San Antonio, TX
Hall 5 (Phoenix Convention Center)
Carmen Nava-Fischer, St. Philip's College, San Antonio, TX
St. Philip's College is a 110 year old Historically Black College and Hispanic Serving Institution with a semester enrollment of over 8,000 students. It is among the oldest and most diverse community colleges in the nation and one of the fastest growing in Texas.

St. Philip's College is located in San Antonio, TX, which has a very diverse population, mainly Hispanic, African American, and Caucasians. Most of the science majors at St. Philip's College are in health sciences because of the high demand for nurses, nurse assistants, respiratory therapists, and other fields of health that are required for the large number of private and military hospitals in the area. However, not all students in natural sciences are interested in health sciences. St. Philip's College is considering a course in Oceanography/Meteorology. The idea is to create a new program to attract students leading to other employment opportunities. Oceanography is seen as one of these other prospective fields because the college is 150 miles from the coastline, and there exists a strong offshore oil industry, an important fishing industry, and a research center.

In order to gauge prospective students' interest in oceanography the following survey will be conducted at St. Philip's College among existing science students. Surveys will be given to 100 science students at St. Philip's College. The questions will consist of the following:

On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest and 1 being worst:

1. If an introductory course in Oceanography were offered would you be interested in taking it?

2. Would you take it as a substitute for an existing required science course?

3. Would you take it as an elective in addition to required science courses?

4. Would you be able to go on a 4 day field trip to the coast?

5. Would you be interested in taking the entire course on-line?

6. Alternatively, take lectures on-line but have real labs and a field trip?

7. Would you like to see St. Philip's College have an entire oceanography program leading to an oceanography technician certification?

8. Would you like to see St. Philip's College be part of a 2 + 2 program where you could continue oceanography at a 4 year university?

Other issues regarding the offering of the oceanography course are the administrative and logistics of offering On-line Ocean Studies as a "traditional" lecture/lab course, completely on-line, and/or hybrid course mostly on-line with a few required class meetings. The use of the Blackboard Vista course management system to administer the course and to become familiar with Respondus software for creating and managing exams will require significant investments of time not presently available. No on-line course can be offered without prior certification through the Blackboard Vista course. Thus, administrative leaders and science faculty must see the opportunity afforded by this course as well as the students by supporting release time and some funds to allow its development. The physical space for any laboratory and its equipment and insurance support for field trips is important too. A report on this support will be specified.

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