Comparative Planetology: Course Overview

This distance education course requires access to MSU's server and the Internet. The learner interested in taking this course should have a basic knowledge of how to use the Internet. Participants should also have an ability to log on at least 5 days a week. MSU courses are accessed through the participant's local Internet service provider (ISP).

There is a high level technology component as participants are expected to download and learn image processing software. Participants with less experience in technology should expect to devote additional time and effort. Participant will need to be able to find and download (save) images from internet.

This course is designed as a graduate level course for practicing teachers. While MSU will allow participants to enroll that are not current practicing teachers, participants enrolled in this course are expected to have a background in educational foundations. For those who do not, you may need to spend additional time and effort learning professional jargon and instructional design skills.

The electronic format of this course offers strong advantages. It allows learners to structure their class time around flexible hours. It permits highly varied opportunities to students in remote places. Within limits, students can pace themselves according to individual needs. However, participants are required to be self-directed and self-motivated learners and are expected to keep pace with the progress of the course.

To use current and future scientific information in the classroom, participants will gain proficiency in using image processing software. Images from NASA and other resources will be used to explore and study our Solar System. This will require moderate competency in use of general technology prior to the beginning of the class - competency that will be further developed during the course.

The course is structured into seven two-week modules (summer version: Module 7 is shortened). Each module emphasizes a particular theme in Comparative Planetology. During each of these units, participants will be asked to read selections from the texts, complete related activities (individually and as part of a team), participate in meaningful and relevant discussions on each topic, and demonstrate an understanding of the content by solving specific problems.

Each course participant must serve as a Study Leader for one module during the class and develop a comprehensive lesson plan for implementation in their classroom as a final project. In order to compare the worlds in our Solar System, each participant will specifically study the Earth, Moon and an additional world of their choice. They are expected to become experts on specific aspects of that world, and to share that information with the rest of the class.

Connecting to the course will be required almost daily to keep up with the group discussions and team activities. Both of these elements are consistent with general design principles of distance education and form an integral part of this course. Your role as an active participant in the electronic course format will be a key factor in your success.

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Montana State University

last updated 5/5/02