205 Massive Open Online Climate Change Course

Monday, 23 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Aparna Bamzai, South Central Climate Science Center, Norman, OK; and R. A. McPherson and E. Martin

Handout (11.2 MB)

One message that we have heard from both university students and natural and cultural resource managers is that they have not received formal training on climate science, climate modeling and projections, and the impacts of climate change on local and regional landscapes. As a result, they feel uncomfortable interpreting complex datasets or answering questions of supervisors and the general public. It is difficult for managers to find high-quality instruction from a reputable climate science program to attend given their current time and travel constraints. One way to combat this difficulty is to provide an asynchronous learning environment using accessible, internet-based technology. The University of Oklahoma (OU) has built capacity to deliver this type of course, using established faculty members as instructors and incorporating the expertise of all course participants in online discussions.

In 2016, we developed an online, interactive course to provide an integrative understanding of the components of the climate system including the range of natural climate variability and external drivers of climate change, in addition to impacts of a changing climate on multiple sectors such as the economy, policy, ecosystems, and indigenous populations. The course is offered on a first-of-its-kind platform, combining multimedia-rich content with interactive social tools and a broader learning community to create an unparalleled learning environment. Because the course is available freely online, natural resources managers, tribal environmental professionals, students at other universities, and anyone from the general public were able to participate. Concurrent to being open to the public, we offered it as a 3-credit, junior-level course for OU students by incorporating graded papers and a mock United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We will demonstrate the interactive features of the course, show an example of the multimedia content, and summarize metrics of participant learning and interactions, both for students who take the course for credit and participants in the free course.

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