Online Weather and Ocean Studies on the rolling plains of West Texas

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Troy Lilly, Western Texas College, Snyder, TX

Western Texas College is a rural two year college located in the oil fields of Scurry County, Snyder, Texas. Snyder has a population of 10,793 and the county population is slightly under 16,000.

The college starts its 38th year in the fall of 2009 with an approximate enrollment of 2400 students. Of these, over 25% are minority students. The college has strong representation in on campus, distance learning, dual credit, and prison courses. In the 2008-2009 school year it was the fastest growing community college in Texas.

In the fall of 2007, the first Weather Studies course, using AMS material, was taught to a total of 10 online students. The second offering was in the fall of 2008 with 13 students registered for the course. In the spring of 2009, there were 22 students who took Weather Studies and 18 who took the first ocean Studies course. Each course utilizes the AMS laboratory manual, text book and “near real time” activities.

Each newly offered course must pass muster from the campus curriculum committee before it can be included in school course offerings. Both the Weather Studies course and the Ocean Studies course met this requirement and are now part of the college's catalog offerings. The college uses Moodle as its platform for teaching in the online mode.

Results of these efforts were presented via a poster at the AMS annual meeting in Phoenix, AZ in January 2009.

Pre- registration for the two courses for the fall of 2009 show an enrollment of 16 students in the Ocean Studies course; 8 of whom are minorities and an enrollment of 14 in the Weather Studies course; 3 of whom are minorities.

Because the college received a Title V grant, part of which will be used to purchase an outdoor, on campus weather station for use in Earth Science and Physical Science classes, there may be an on campus or hybrid type offering of the Weather Studies course in the future.