The course entitled, “Biology in the Real World: Understanding Modern Complex Issues”will be taught online and focus on the use of project based real world examples to elucidate underlying biological principals. The anticipated learners for this course are traditional undergraduate students in their first couple years of study. This body of students is very familiar with technology and minimal technological training should be required. Weekly topics will be introduced using multimedia such as a NY times article, YouTube video, real time expert lectures, etc.
Training on best research practices online will be a necessary addition and indeed will fit the learning objective of developing scientific literacy. Students will be expected to apply their knowledge base to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts and produce materials in an e-portfolio to document their work. Initial modules will be as straightforward as possible to help students understand the expectations and desired outcomes.
Well detailed rubrics for assignments will be provided with frequent assessments. The course will grow in complexity and depth as it progresses and group work and discussion will become integral components. The course may be utilized as a general education requirement for non science majors or be readily utilized as an in-depth introductory course for science majors. In such a case, the higher orders of blooms taxonomy would be employed earlier in the course, more content material may be covered, as well as the inclusion of primary literature sources.
This course is completely novel and is not a direct adaptation from a previous course I have taught. However, it does contain ideas and content from previous Biology courses and thus I have integral knowledge of how students interact with the material in a traditional setting. With that said, I acknowledge that it is an ambitious endeavor to take an introductory Biology course into the online realm. My design includes laboratory assignments, independent research components, and group work, all of which present challenges for the online facilitator. However, I do not believe these challenges are insurmountable and I utilize instruments such as virtual laboratories, fieldwork, and case studies to begin to address these difficulties. I hope as you continue on in my portfolio you will begin to see how these challenges can be readily addressed.
The above description is adapted from Form 3b from “Conquering the Content”, which can be found below. This form began the process of identifying the learners, potential pitfalls, and areas to accentuate.