A Novel Method for Teaching Large Astronomy Courses Online
14:00 - 14:15
Co-authors: Margaret C. Moulson (Toronto Metropolitan University)
Pandemic precautions forced many university courses to be taught online for the first time, including the large introductory astronomy courses at Ontario Tech University. Online synchronous courses, where material is delivered live over video conferencing software using slides and lecturing, do not offer the effectiveness of in-person courses. Similarly, asynchronous courses with recorded lectures and other components have several drawbacks compared to in-person courses. In response to these limitations, I developed a novel synchronous method for teaching astronomy online that resulted in better student outcomes than in-person courses. This synchronous mixed method approach consisted of first creating a series of easy-to-make, high-quality, and reusable videos of the main lecture content. These videos were then played live for the first time during the online synchronous lecture with the students. As each video played, I moderated a class-wide written discussion, where I answered student questions, clarified points made in the video, and seamlessly deployed engagement tasks throughout. In between these short videos longer questions were addressed, deeper discussion was generated, and interactive quizzing was conducted. Following the synchronous class time, the recorded videos were posted in the learning management system and available to the students for the remainder of the course. In this talk, I will describe the details of this synchronous mixed method approach. I will also present comparisons of student outcomes, showing that this approach resulted in greater student success than traditional in-person classes both before and after the pandemic (e.g., average final grade increase from 72.9% to 77.3%).