Project introduction and background information
The course 'Introduction to Environmental Technology' (ETE 10806) has grown exponentially in topics, focus, student numbers, and heterogeneity in student background. Together, these challenges have resulted in the conclusion that a traditional course based on lectures and in-class exercises is neither feasible nor desirable.
In the past 5 years, the course has expanded in the diversity and number of topics and students. New topics aim at introducing students to innovations in more sustainable technologies that close cycles rather than just removing waste. The breadth of topics currently covered cannot be “traditionally” taught and current materials do not teach application, innovation, creativity, or critical thought. Increases in student registration and diversity result in gaps in background knowledge and thus lecture material not in-line with student abilities. And, current materials are ill-suited to teaching exercises, critical thinking, and student-student feedback in large groups.
The problems can be solved by developing new, online, interactive course material, composed of:
- S.1) aptitude tests and reviews of background material- this tests and teaches the essential pre-requisite information students need to follow the course, providing both written material and interactive exercises
- S.2) interactive course exercises- exercises teaching the fundamentals of environmental technologies will be created in online, interactive course material allowing the students to prepare the coursework in advance
- S.3) online cases- environmental cases and simulations will be developed to teach students creativity in the application of environmental technology to real environmental problems. Both will involve a student-student feedback component.
Objective and expected outcomes
The goal of this project is to develop online course materials that allow students to:
- test their aptitude for particular topics and review these background topics in order to remove repetitiveness in lecture;
- develop material allowing students to work on exercises at home interactively, so that course time is freed to discuss concepts rather than perform calculations;
- create new methods to allow the students to apply their knowledge using interactive environmental technology simulations and by giving each other feedback;
The major aims of the course are to teach A) the fundamental physical, chemical, and biological principles behand environmental technologies; and B) innovation and creativity in the application of these technologies to real environmental problems. Teaching the fundamental background information and exercises on the technologies at home in an online learning environment (S.1+S.2) ensures that students have the time and resources to comprehensively understand the fundamentals. The online cases (S.3) combined with the lecture time freed-up by solutions 1 and 2 ensure more time is available for teaching application of technologies.