Wagging ETOM’s Long Tail: MOOCs, Hangouts on Air, and Formal and Informal Undergraduate Experiences with Climate Change Science and Clean Energy Solutions

Monday, 15 December 2014: 8:45 AM
Geoffrey Haines-Stiles1, Richard B Alley2, Erna Akuginow1, Karen McNeal3 and David Blockstein4, (1)GHSPi/Passport to Knowledge, Jersey City, NJ, United States, (2)Pennsylvania State Univ, University Park, PA, United States, (3)North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Raleigh, NC, United States, (4)National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington DC, United States
Climate change can reasonably be described as a “wicked problem” meaning that it is complex, difficult and multi-faceted, although critical to equitable development and the sustainability of human civilization. But while the Wikipedia definition says such problems are “impossible” to solve, not even to try will lead to certain failure. “Earth: The Operators’ Manual” (ETOM) was an NSF-funded informal science education project with 3 hour-long TV programs appearing on PBS in 2011 and 2012, along with live presentations by series host, Penn State’s Richard Alley, and others at 5 major science centers. Uniquely among climate change programming, ETOM gave equal time to identifying solutions along with climate science, and made all its materials freely available via YouTube. Formal and informal science educators can register to download HD videos for classroom and outreach use, and signups have ranged from middle schools to 4-year colleges. Building on the success of the series and Alley’s companion tradebook of the same name, Penn State working with Coursera invited Alley to develop a MOOC entitled “Energy, The Environment and Our Future” that similarly combined the essential science along with clean energy solutions. The course reached more than 30,000 students in the first semester of 2014. More recently the ETOM team has partnered with the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) to develop “READ for the EARTH,” an NSF EAGER project, offering campuses the opportunity to adopt Alley’s book, the ETOM videos (including “How To Talk To An Ostrich”), NCSE’s www.CAMELclimatechange.org web site and other resources for both formal and informal uses. Some campuses have used the book with honors classes, and some are exploring adapting ETOM as a first year reading experience for all freshman. Our presentation will share reactions to the MOOC, to the pilot phases of “READ for the EARTH” and present both qualitative and quantitative results. Some of the most interesting of the latter include EDA (electrodermal activity) data comparing real-time responses to viewing one of the ETOM videos contrasted with discussion and lecture formats at a university level. Attendees will be invited to participate in “READ” and to utilize the “evergreen” version of the 2014 MOOC through “InTeGrate” (www.serc.carleton.edu/InTeGrate.)