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…dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Christopher Fluke (with Sarah Maddison & Glen Mackie) astronomy.swin.edu.au.

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Presentation on theme: "…dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Christopher Fluke (with Sarah Maddison & Glen Mackie) astronomy.swin.edu.au."— Presentation transcript:

1 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Christopher Fluke (with Sarah Maddison & Glen Mackie) astronomy.swin.edu.au Virtual Tours of the Universe

2 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… March 15-26

3 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… July 2006

4 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Academics Postdocs/Researchers Students Support/Technical Staff Year Mission Statement: …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education All About Us No undergraduate teaching in astronomy! Swinburne Astronomy Online (SAO) AstroTour: Virtual Reality Tours of the Universe

5 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Fully online graduate degree program in astronomy by coursework (commenced worldwide in 1999) Nested program: Graduate Certificate of Science in Astronomy 4 Units Graduate Diploma of Science in Astronomy 8 Units Master of Science in Astronomy 12 Units Not a training program for PhD astronomers: Concentrates on the fundamental concepts & key issues in contemporary astronomy (rather than mathematical basis) 16 Units: What is SAO? Solar system; stars; galaxies; cosmology; history of astronomy; astrophotography; space exploration; debates in astronomy; computational astrophysics; etc.

6 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… We aim to assess: Overall conceptual understanding Identify and correct common misconceptions Grasp of detail Demonstrate knowledge & understanding of course content Communication skills Discuss basic principles/concepts in a non-technical way understandable by the wider public Ability to research a topic (in astronomy) in depth Learning Outcomes

7 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Hybrid delivery: CD-ROM (~1500 animated PowerPoint slides per unit) Textbooks Internet links for further research Asynchronous newsgroup discussions How Does SAO Work?

8 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Asynchronous newsgroup discussions Different time zones + busy people! 1 instructor and ~30 students New newsgroups every 2 weeks Students answer each others questions (active learning) Organised discussion threads (time to research and reflect on answers) Aids non-native English speakers to compose contributions Instructor acts as guide on the side (promotes active learning) The Virtual Classroom

9 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Who Are We Teaching? Amateur astronomers Science school teachers Science communicators Individuals working in astronomy-related fields Members of general public interested in astronomy ~230 students/semester ~35 countries Ages 16 to 78 (average ~41 yrs) 20% female and 80% male 30% 40%

10 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… The Online Experience Advantages Suits part-timers and distance students Encourages regular study instead of last-minute cramming Newsgroups can be used to encourage participation by all Saves on lecture theatres… Problems? Not face-to-face: good communication and feedback is vital Danger of low retention rates: students need self-discipline & motivation Online not well-suited to some areas of study & perhaps some age groups? But it seems to work very well in astronomy, and particularly with motivated life-long learners!

11 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… I really love the Swinburne approach to the astronomy for non-astronomy career folks. Slow paced classes, humor, and the focus on learning as opposed to cramming. Even the tests were great. Ive NEVER taken a test before that was actually a learning experience, yet Im finding that Im learning a ton simply in the taking of these `assessments. The HET602 group are a terrific bunch, even though class is virtual. And the discussions and questions are imaginative and demand thinking caps. Its more like the classic Greek form of tuition, with the course tutors and students sitting round a forum discussing the subject. Feedback Student feedback on each subject each semester Quality of teaching Student satisfaction

12 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… 1999: The Centre builds its Stereo Theatrette for scientific visualisation 3D Solar System proves popular with visiting dignitaries! A letter from an 8 yr old boy results in first 3D AstroTour Government funding to buy 3D glasses for school program

13 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Shutter Glasses Unix on Alpha computer CRT Projector Shutter Glasses Unix on Alpha computer CRT Projector Matthew Bailes

14 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Polarising Glasses Linux on Intel PC 2 X DLP Projectors Silver Screen Polarising Glasses Linux on Intel PC 2 X DLP Projectors Silver Screen OS-X on Apple G5 Sarah Maddison

15 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Grade 3 (8-9 y.o.) to Year 12 (17-18 y.o.) + Public Shows Victorian Curriculum requirements ~1500 students per year Teacher Professional Development Interactives Conceptual demonstrations Solar System, Pulsar properties, Globular clusters Swinburne research results (+ supercomputer) Pulsar Surveys, Magellenic Stream, Galaxy Formation Encourage questions as we go

16 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… 2004 After Stars 2003 The Little Things 2001 Elysium Documentary Story

17 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… 2005 Spinning in Space

18 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Stereoscopic Video: Parkes

19 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Swinburne University CosmoDream Sydney Observatory Parkes Observatory Jodrell Bank Observatory Papalote Mahidol Wittayanusorn School Installations Worldwide, more than 250,000 visitors have seen our 3D shows

20 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Audience Response No formal audience evaluation, however: …fascinated and enthralled…the subject matter you discussed is just the kind of exciting, up-to- date material which will motivate my students… Teacher Professional Development session... the kids want to come back and see more! Secondary School Teacher This is the second visit for me and I still don't know if I am more impressed with the way you can manipulate the display to make a point or just blown away with the information about the vastness of the universe. Primary School Teacher Students commented very positively - "inspired…"I'll never see the night sky the same way again… P-12 School Teacher

21 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Faulkes Telescope Australian education program Virtual Milky Way Supercomputer in the classroom

22 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Partners Swinburne University RMIT Monash University Museum Victoria Adacel Pty Ltd Associate Partner University of Melbourne 8 Walls, 16 Projectors, 8 computers Budget: ~US$2.5 million over 3 years (hardware + ~9 shows)

23 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Media Releases Media coverage January 2000 to October 2003: 68 items

24 …dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the Universe through research and education… Summary Astronomy is fun! Success of Swinburne Astronomy Online and AstroTour is partly due to the passion for the subject that our researchers can provide as they teach. We have enjoyed the opportunities to share that passion worldwide. astronomy.swin.edu.au/sao astronomy.swin.edu.au/astrotour


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