The newest programs utilize a published textbook and regularly updated study guide for each course, integrated with online resources and activities, all produced by the AMS Education Office. Students interact with the prepared materials and work with an instructor or mentor regularly through online or fax access and regular meetings at critical times in the program. These programs include three DataStreme courses titled Atmosphere, Water in the Earth System (which covers all three content areas) and Ocean, and the undergraduate course Online Weather Studies.
DataStreme courses are funded by various agencies and provided to educators through Local Implementation Teams, trained and organized by AMS. Online Weather Studies are offered to interested collegiate organizations on a license basis and are taught by their own staff. Students are charged fees based upon the institutions practices for such courses. DataStreme courses provide three graduate credits to successful participants through the State University of New York at Brockport. Online Weather Studies participants are provided credit by the offering institution with the course operating like nearly any other course at the school.
Online Weather Studies have been offered using a number of models and have been joined by adaptations of the DataStreme courses at the undergraduate level. The flexibility of the AMS Education Department has made it possible to offer DataStreme courses during regular semesters and other times through archived materials.
Alvernia College and Cabrini College, two liberal arts colleges in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, suburbs, have both offered Online Weather Studies. The science program at Alvernia was further enhanced with the offering of an adapted DataStreme Weather in the Earth System to undergraduates during the “Winterim” term in January, 2004, and as a full semester course during the fall, 2004, semester.
The Online Weather course at Cabrini, first offered during fall, 2003, was initially offered as an education course, but was ultimately approved as a science core course for the following year. The instructors for both Cabrini and Alvernia initially used the DataStreme model for the instructional process: online or fax access to the instructors with three or four periodic class meetings. The course at Cabrini was further revised to provide a weekly class meeting, although total meeting time would be approximately the same as the less frequent meetings.
The three-week course at Alvernia, utilized archived Water in the Earth System web pages from the fall, 2003, semester. AMS staff set up the page, providing all links and documents not provided in the text and study guide. Contained within the web pages were current (for the preceding semester) data and links. Nearly all links were still functional and the data was not sufficiently dated to have a negative impact. Students were very satisfied with the adaptations and the courses. Since this was an undergraduate science course and not a course for educators, the pedagogical component was not implemented at the undergraduate level.
All of the undergraduate courses required periodic examinations and at least one long-term research study and report. Emphasis in the DataStreme courses is in the communication with the assigned mentor and the pedagogical applications. Further, one key objective in the DataStreme philosophy is the training of resource teachers in the schools of America, with strong background in water science.
Details of the courses and their adaptations, syllabi, samples of student work and discussion with the authors can provide assistance, guidance and ideas on how to set up similar courses, utilizing any of the online programs available through the American Meteorological Society. The programs and their adaptations and creative implementations further expand the vision of AMS at providing quality, accurate science instruction in the atmospheric, oceanic and hydrologic sciences.