Archives for November 2009

“Why does the universe look the way it does?”

I found the following video online and it made me think a little bit on how content can be delivered to support online learning.

(hat tip: American Digest)

Sean Carroll is a theoretical research physicist at Caltech. The format he uses here could easily be adapted to different courses on our campus. I am not sure in what context he is delivering his “lecture” (I don’t know that it is actually a lecture, but it definitely encapsulates some great information that could be delivered to a course on cosmology, quantum mechanics, or even basic astronomy).

One way in which this video-style of presenting information could be used would be for an instructor to record some content (10-30 minutes worth). The students would be required to watch the video and then answer questions about it online through some sort of assessment mechanism.

Additionally, the instructor could pose questions to the students in an online discussion forum. Dr. Carroll refers to a number of other prominent scientists who are researching competing/complementary theories about the origins of the universe. Students could be tasked with researching one of those names and then posting their findings in the online discussion forum.

Finally, the instructor could simply include a link to the video within a supplementary materials section of their online course. The downside to this is that there is no real incentive for students to visit the link (unless there are points involved).

Anyway, it’s definitely a good video for a general audience. A course-specific video would be more in-depth.