The weather, the ocean, and cyberspace: Are they compatible?

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Barbara Hillery, SUNY, Old Westbury, NY; and A. Manzi

Handout (138.9 kB)

Faculty from the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Old Westbury participated in the American Meteorological Society's Weather Studies workshop in the summer of 2004, and offered the course for the first time the spring of 2005. We participated in the Ocean Studies workshop in the summer of 2007, and offered that course initially in the spring of 2008. Taken together, the lecture and lab of each of these fulfill Old Westbury's General Education requirement for a laboratory science course. By offering a lab course online, we are able to provide for those students whose work and/or family obligations make it difficult for them to accommodate the time commitment of a traditional in-class weekly lab session.

The question now is: are these courses working? The two courses have been taught by three different instructors as both hybrid and entirely online sections. Despite student difficulties, the courses remain enormously popular. In this paper, we provide a quantitative investigation of the successes and failures of the offerings to date, and the factors leading thereto. We also discuss some of our attempts to reach the less engaged students and ensure a meaningful learning experience for all.

SUNY Old Westbury was chartered in 1965 and is the only public comprehensive liberal arts college on Long Island. Old Westbury was originally envisioned as an experimental institution, innovative in curricula, procedures and academic policies. Later, the institution added to its mission the goal of educating a diverse, multicultural student population through a curriculum that addressed fundamental issues in American society. The initial curriculum was entirely interdisciplinary in structure and remains largely so today. Current enrollment is approximately 3,400 students, largely from local Long Island communities and the metropolitan New York area. Over 50% of its students are racial or ethnic minorities, approximately 60% are female, and many are the first in their families to attend college. Old Westbury is the model of ethnic, gender, and cultural diversity within the SUNY system.