Milestone Report for the project: Curriculum Design, Production & Delivery of MEA 200 as a Web-Course

Part 3


Updated on: Monday, 15-Dec-2014 06:53:49 EST

This part of the report describes the MEA 200 web course produced by this project and some of the reasons why I structured it the way I did.


Elements of Course
Return to Project Background, Goals and Objectives

Technological & Instructional Level of Course

A Level 2 tutorial and dynamic MEA 200 web-course was completed ahead of the project schedule and offered for the first time the Fall 1997 semester as a flexible-access course to enrolled NCSU students (with registration through TRACS), and to distance-education students (with registration through OIT - now DELTA). Now all students register for the DELTA section of the class through TRACS. The web-course has no classroom obligation and students take all exams at DELTA Testing Centers on campus, or, if out of town, from approved proctors. This DELTA web-course is offered year round during the regular academic year, and with new tuition regulations, have enrollments that are more than 95% Degree Students (DS).

The early completion date on this second-level web course (without first completing the first-level course) was due, in part, to my participation in Project 25 and to my working 50-55 hour weeks from January through September, 1997. The Project 25 funds supplemented those provided by this project and allowed me to significantly upgrade my computer and purchase additional and essential equipment (scanner & printer) and software. Invaluable technical assistance in converting my written course into a web-course also was extended by the Project 25 staff. Without this technical assistance (and additional financial aid), I would not likely have been able to have even a Level 1 course on-line in time for the Fall 1997 semester. Additional resources since then have been provided by my department to provide me with a MacIntosh G 5 computer with enough memory and storage capacity to make movies from my analog video tapes that I have included in my lessons as streaming video and the latest McPro Plus computer for course maintenance.

Elements of Course

Course Description

This rigorous sophomore-level course covers all of the science of oceanography with a particular emphasis on the important inter-relationships of the ocean as part of our environment. Included are discussions of the chemical, physical and thermal properties of the ocean and the interactions between the atmosphere and ocean; marine geology, sedimentation and the global effects of plate tectonics; surface and subsurface ocean circulation; ocean wave generation and interactions; ocean tides and their environmental effects; and marine biology and the importance of microscopic plants in the ecology of the ocean and global environments. The course is designed to be demanding at the sophomore level, so grades are fixed (they are not curved, which would favor the juniors and seniors that constitute approximately 45% of my enrollment). As with my regular course, the subject areas of my web-course are divided into roughly four equal parts.

Group Learning

To enhance learning, the web course also includes a group learning experience (also linkable from the on-line Syllabus). The classes were divided into study groups of three students, and each was charged to meet weekly and report either face-to-face, or using IM. The presiding and recording functions of the group rotate among members of the group each week.

Main Course Page and Syllabus

The main MEA 200 Course Page (index.html) is also the course syllabus, and all of the sub-files of the course are linked to from there. The URL for the course is:

but access is restricted to registered students and others who have permission. Wrap Access is controlled by use of a unique unity id and password automatically assigned to all registered students when they were enrolled by the University.

Included on, or linked to, the main course page are:

  1. Description of Course
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Course Goals and Objectives
  4. Textbook
  5. Course Organization
  6. Classroom Meeting Requirements
  7. Examination and Assignments Policies and Procedures
  8. Grading Criteria
  9. Hardware Requirements
  10. Discussion of Group Organization and Activities
  11. Frequently Asked Questions
  12. Class Schedule
  13. Suggestions for Success
  14. List of Lessons On-line
  15. List of Assignments On-line
  16. Study guides for Parts 1, 2, 3 & 4 of the Course
  17. Exam preparation, self-evaluation

For use by prospective students and other interested persons who do not have access, I also have posted a duplicate of most of the syllabus in the University Public Locker and linked to it from my HomePage at URL:


The structure of the lessons of this course reflects the course's content. Unlike other science courses, students do not solve equations or calculate numerical problems, but are expected to learn to 'think like an oceanographer' and be able to think critically about the inter-relationships discussed. Therefore, the lessons do not include 'immediate feedback' problem sets, etc., but are written in ways that often model the scientific-method of thinking that I expect the students to learn. Indeed, written discussion questions make up all the questions on the assignments, and from forty to fifty percent of the questions on the four examinations.

The MEA Web-course consists of a total of thirteen lessons posted to the course locker. Each lesson includes an index.html page that includes a specific reading assignment and usually links to two or more parts. Breaking the lesson into multiple parts decreases the size of the file to be downloaded and printed (the preferred way that I discovered students used to study their lessons), which are then 'highlighted'. Every lesson includes graphics and figures that I created, or scanned from the textbook (with permission of the publisher), using graphics software, and from one to six streaming audio files. Lessons are posted to the course locker for use by registered students at the beginning of each semester and linked to from the course page. The class schedule corresponds uses the same schedule I used for my regular course. Video course tapes were screened so that video segments (that show the development of important graphs or other figures not included in the file) were extracted and recorded on CD ROM, and compressed and linked to the lessons as streaming video.

Written Assignments

Thirty-two written assignments are posted to WebAssign by the students througout the semester. Each assignment is worth 10 points, though I select randomly only two from each of the four parts of the course to grade. Also, students receive 0.625 points for each assignment they turn in. Thus, if they turn in all assignments they get a total of 20 points, and if they get full credit on the four I grade they get an additional 80 points. The total for the assignments, therefore, is 100 points and 1/5 of the grade. Assignments are submitted by each student using WebAssign. This also gives me the capability of providing keys to the answers for all the assignments, which students may use to study for exams, whether I grade them or not.

Class Examinations

Finally, there is a 100 point exam for each of the four parts of the course (for a maximum total of 400 points). Each exam consists of from 42 to 50 points for written discussion and critical thinking questions; 24 to 30 points for matching questions; and the remaining points for drawing and multiple-choice questions. Web-course students take the exam in written form (just as my regular class students do) at a DELTA Testing Center.

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