Blended Learning: Integrating Online “Warm-up” Exercises and News Posts in Earth Systems and Climate Change
Presented by Elizabeth Johnson
Earth Systems and Climate Change is usually taught in sections of 100+ students. In order to provide an opportunity for all students to ask questions and give feedback on their understanding of the course material, I implemented daily warm-up assignments starting in Fall 2007. The warm-ups are programmed into Blackboard and are open-ended thought questions based on the reading assignment for the next lecture. Each warm-up also includes an open-ended comments and questions box. Warm-ups are due 2 hours before the beginning of lecture. I look over the answers and integrate responses into the lecture. This connects the online activity with the classroom activities. This year, I added an extra credit assignment that helps students (and me!) keep up with fast-paced climate change research and news. Each student may find and post a link to one new, original climate change article every 2-3 weeks on the Discussion Board. Their post includes a summary and why they found the article interesting. I use some of the articles in class whenever they are relevant or interesting. This assignment links online work to the classroom in a blended learning environment, and will hopefully give the students a sense of ownership of the material.
Liz Johnson received her MS and PhD in Geochemistry from Caltech, worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History and then as a researcher and instructor at UCLA before coming to JMU as an instructor. She has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology and Environmental Science at JMU since 2008. She enjoys teaching general education courses including Physical Geology, Earth Systems & Climate Change, and Geology of Skyline Drive.