Snow and Global Climate: An Online Course to Facilitate Scientist and Teacher Collaboration

Investigations in Cyber-enabled Education presents an online course designed to facilitate collaboration between scientists and teachers. Participants will explore and provide feedback on course products. Please bring your laptop to participate. Participant limit: 20

Product Feedback Session

This session will showcase and solicit feedback on a prototype online learning community designed to facilitate collaboration between teachers and scientists. A team of scientists and education researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute developed the learning community as part of the Investigations in Cyber-enabled Education (ICE) Program, a DR K–12 program. The unique learning community is the central component of an online course for secondary teachers. The course introduces the role of snow in global climate using digital lectures, interactive multimedia, and step-by-step lessons. All course products are designed to prompt and encourage scientist-teacher collaboration via the learning community.       

ICE Principal Investigator Kathy Bertram will begin the session with a brief PowerPoint presentation explaining the overarching goals of the ICE project and the research and development completed thus far. Session participants will then visit the ICE website to explore the learning community and interact with one complete unit of instruction. Seven units are available.        

Unit 1: Introduction to Snow and Global Climate describes how snow forms in Earth’s atmosphere and the role of seasonal snow cover in global climate.

Unit 2: Studying Snow Cover demonstrates how Web and satellite images are used to study snow pack extent.

Unit 3: Snowfall and Snow Depth explores how scientists collect, analyze, and use snowfall and snow depth data.

Unit 4: Temperature and Wind reveals how local and global temperatures and wind patterns relate to snowpack extent.

Unit 5: Climate Projection describes how climate projections are created and allows users to compare projections of Alaska’s future climate.

Unit 6: Indigenous Knowledge of Climate shares indigenous climate observations and allows users to compare observations with weather station data for a richer understanding of climate and climate change.

Unit 7: Responding to Climate Change explores the data and processes involved in climate policymaking, and features case studies of policy projects based on climate projections.   

Each unit includes a digital scientist lecture to introduce the topic, an interactive multimedia activity to delve deeper into unit concepts, and a lesson that familiarizes teachers with online resources, data, and study methods related to the topic. Participants are encouraged to post questions, comments, and ideas to the learning community discussion forums as though they were taking the course.               

Session participants will provide feedback on the ways and extent to which the ICE course products facilitate, encourage, and necessitate online collaboration between teachers and scientists. Underlying questions to consider include, Are the ICE online communication venues easy to use? Why or why not? Is the course content interesting and thought-provoking? Does it facilitate learning of science content and process skills? What questions might teachers have for a scientist?

Bertram will chair a discussion soliciting feedback in response to these questions, and gather additional feedback with a brief online survey. Participant responses and discussion forum postings will help refine ICE course products to meet the communication needs of a diverse online audience.

Special Note: This session is limited to 20 participants to ensure that all have an opportunity to provide feedback during the discussion portion of the session. Participants are asked to bring their laptop computers in order to explore the online products associated with this session.