Online Weather Studies at Gavilan College: recent developments and future plans

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Andrew H. Van Tuyl, Gavilan College, Gilroy, CA

Online Weather Studies was once again offered at Gavilan during 2009. As in previous years, the class was taught entirely online, with one or two orientation meetings at the beginning of each semester. Those meetings were even more sparsely attended than in the past, although the students who did show up indicated that they were helpful. Grading, as before, was based 50 percent on Laboratory Investigations, 40 percent on exams (one midterm and one final), and 10 percent on four discussion forums.

Judging by enrollment and student feedback, implementation of the course continues to be a success. As of late June there were 30 students, the official maximum, already registered for Fall 2009; Spring 2009 enrollment peaked at 37. It is perhaps fortuitous that there continues to be a high rate of attrition. The majority of the grades were clustered around B, with a secondary maximum in the D-F range. Some of the latter reflected students who effectively dropped out but remained on the course roster.

Minor changes to Moodle, the course management system, occurred during the year, mostly involving the Gradebook module. These created some inconvenience but no major problems. In the future, other Moodle features, such as Groups and Wiki, may be used to supplement or replace the Discussion Forums. The intention is to create a greater sense of interaction and community among students, which the Forums have been only partly successful in accomplishing. These changes will probably not be implemented before Fall 2010.