Presentation #323.01 in the session “Education and Public Outreach II: Students, Teachers, and Education Resources”.
In Fall 2020, the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University began its 100% online undergraduate degree in Astronomical and Planetary Sciences. This degree is one of the world’s first online astronomy Bachelor of Science degrees. Offered through ASU Online, this innovative degree will prepare students for many careers including K-12 STEM teachers, technology and science journalism and writing, public outreach, science communication officer, science policy, statistical data analysis, and computer programming. The degree program includes groundwork in mathematics and physical sciences, topical courses focused on diverse fields within astronomy and planetary science, and exposure to the engineering and computational tools and techniques used to carry out research. Students who are interested in going to graduate school in Astrophysics would need additional advanced coursework not offered online beyond the degree including, but not limited to in-person research experience. We have developed new online courses and redesigned existing ones in support of this degree. By utilizing innovative learning techniques and technologies for the online realm, we are able to provide an interactive experience for online students. Our existing online introductory astronomy course, also taken by many non-majors, has been redesigned and features new online adaptive and interactive laboratory experiences created with the ASU Center of Education through eXploration (ETX). New project-based courses include the topics of Science Communication and Problem Solving and Programming using Python. Solving the problems of collaborative group work in online upper division courses has benefited from piloting new tools and technology in remotely taught in-person courses during the pandemic. In the 4 months since our launch in June 2020, over 100 students have been accepted into our degree program with numbers steadily increasing each week.