Since February 2009, students worldwide have the opportunity to join the first international online course on climate change, offered by the Faculty of Life Sciences (LIFE) at University of Copenhagen.
The course is developed by an interdisciplinary team of teachers including four members of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC). One of them is also the former Climate Adviser to President Barack Obama.
Climate change is a hot topic, and all over the world people are discussing the impacts of climate change. But the e-learning course also focuses on how to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The course is developed in close cooperation between University of Copenhagen, the Danish Meteorological Institute, UC Berkeley and Australian National University and involves members of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC).
Discussion and test tools for activating students
The discussion tool in itslearning is a key tool in our online courses. Our teaching method builds upon a model developed by Professor Gilly Salmon from the University of Leicester. This “five stage model for online teaching” makes students highly involved and very active in online courses.
Students work collaboratively and use the discussion tool in itslearning to solve tasks, assisted by literature and other learning resources. Generally they have to carry out some e-tivities in this online course.
In each module they will take part in discussions and make one or two tests. The test tool in itslearning is important because it helps students understand the concepts of the discipline.
We get very positive feedback on itslearning from our online students. They like the discussion tool because it is modern and similar to other discussion forums available on the Internet. They also find it easy to use. Moreover, students appreciate the possibility of showing pictures. This helps them feel as though they belong to a community online.
Minimising our carbon footprint
Another good reason for using itslearning is that the carbon footprint is kept low by replacing flight travels between Denmark, the US and Australia by online discussions and meetings. Similarly, the number of car trips is reduced.
In the beginning of the course the students will be asked to calculate their carbon footprint from following the online course and compare it to what it would have been if the course had consisted of traditional face-to-face classes. There is no doubt the difference will be substantial.