In Fall Quarter of 2019 we will be testing a few potential changes to our PHYS 131 ("Survey of the Universe") offerings. Don't let the "PHYS" designation scare you, this would be Astronomy 101 at most other universities! (And think of how impressive it will look to have a PHYS class on your transcript!)
This quarter we will be testing a change from a traditional textbook to a "video game" developed by our colleagues at the Pennsylvania State University. It is important to note that the learning goals of the class will remain the same. The cost of the game is $80, which is less than the cost of the traditional textbook and other online course materials.
The online version of the class (PHYS 131, Section 900) will consist of online material based on this video game, online student-faculty and student-student interactions, and a self-guided observatory "field trip". For more details, see the syllabus.
The face-to-face version of the class (PHYS 131, Section 001) will be a "hybrid" in Fall 2019, with the video game replacing the textbook and some in-class time being devoted to face-to-face interactions with the game. For more details, see the syllabus. This is likely to be a one-time offering of a hybrid-style class, which I'm mostly using to gauge future changes to the face-to-face and online classes.
Students wishing to take the more traditional (textbook-based) face-to-face class will have the option of doing so in Spring 2020 and can use the Syllabus from Spring 2019 as a guide for what that class will be like.
Based on the results from Fall 2019, we may consider making a request to the Faculty Senate to make more formal changes to these courses (e.g., making the online version into "Classical Astronomy in Modern Format" and the face-to-face version into "Modern Astronomy in a Classical Format"), potentially starting in Fall 2020.
Last Modified:13 September 2019