Information] [Weekly Schedule] [Blackboard]
[Contacting the Instructor] [Learning
Last modified:6/04/04 at 3:00 pm
If you are new to Astronomy 10, take a a few minutes to read the
course description and information below. When you are done, be
sure to check on the Weekly Schedule, Contacting Instructor,
Learning Resources, and Blackboard links listed above
and below. Blackboard is the course "template" where you log in
to complete assignments, take quizzes, and communicate with your
classmates and instructor. Since this is a distance education
course, there are no official class meetings.
started in Astro 10 DE1
this is a summer class, there isn't much time to waste! Make sure
you read this information over carefully so you can best direct
your time and energy to get the most out of this class. To start
with, there are a few pages you should become familiar with as
soon as possible:
Information: You are here! This includes general information
about learning Astronomy via the Internet, as well as course requirements,
grading standards, and necessary materials
Weekly Schedule: an interactive schedule
containing dates for all assignments, quizzes, and exams. This tells
you what you should be reading in your text and on-line, and what
sections from the PlanetTales CD you should be familiar with. Hyperlinks
in the schedule often take you to just the right place!
the Instructor: office hours, email, telephone number, a
complete schedule, and a relatively recent photo!
Resources: a list of sites on the web that are frequently
used for assignments and quizzes in this course, as well some that
might be of help on your research project(s)
a set of linked applications for students enrolled in the course,
including email, Class discussions area, Quizzes and Exams area,
and Assignments area. You can also get to this page, and all the
above pages from the Left hand menu in Blackboard.
Course Information: contents
Astro 10 is
a one-semester introduction to the solar system. Along the way,
we will explore the motions of the stars, planets, and moons. We
will also study the Earth, inside and out (literally!), and some
of the environmental problems that we six billion humans are facing
here at home.
Using the Earth as a model, we can also learn about other worlds,
starting with the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the outer planets.
As part of our exploration, we will discuss theories on the formation
of the solar system and study evidence for these theories contained
in the debris--comets and asteroids--still in orbit about the sun.
Finally, we will apply what what have learned about our own solar
system to the search for planets outside the solar system and the
possibility of finding intelligent life on these new worlds.
10 DE1 is an Internet based, distance education course, you will
need to use the Internet to access assignments, take quizzes, and
communicate with the instructor. To facilitate this process, we
will be using a distance education template called "Blackboard".
In practice, you will log onto the Blackboard site for this course
to begin each study session.
To log onto
Blackboard, please view these log-in
instructions from the Las Positas College Distance Ed department.
If you follow the instructions, you can't miss! If you have already
logged in, then read on!
information about Blackboard, go
to the LPC Distance Education home page.
text: Fraknoi,Andrew, Voyages to the Planets,
3rd edition (2004), available at the LPC bookstore, or online. Note: 2003 and 2002 editions are similar and can
be used if you are willing to make extensive use of material on
materials: "PlanetTales " CD-ROM. Available in the campus
bookstore, or online. This CD-ROM is an essential part of the course. Many
quiz and exam questions draw direction from Material on the CD-ROM!
Participation and Assessment ..........
in Astronomy 10 will be based on your performance on quizzes, exams,
assignments, a final project, and participation in class discussions.
Each these graded items will be discussed in more detail below.
case you were wondering: Yes,
you do need to visit and participate in the discussion board for
this class! People who do participate do better and enjoy the class
more than people who don't. Plus, they earn necessary points.
You are expected
to make frequent use of the discussion area in Blackboard to post
questions, provide feedback to your classmates, read announcements
from the instructor, and simply discuss topics of interest to you.
This area constitutes your "attendance" in Astronomy 10. More importantly,
however, it will be a primary learning tool, allowing you to explore
astronomy by interacting with others. You will find that as your
knowledge of astronomy grows, your ability and desire to write about
it will grow as well. In some cases, assignments will require you
to post items in the discussion area. For these posts, you will
receive a set number of points toward your final grade. A larger
number of points, however, will be given at the instructor's discretion
for your participation ....i.e., the frequency and quality of your
responses to the posted items from your classmates. To give you
some idea of the requirements for a particular grade on your discussion
posts, check out Rubrics
for the Discussion Area
The idea of
the discussion board is simple. Check in frequently, and post items
of interest to you, and respond when you can. It is hoped and expected
that all students will receive full credit for this portion of the
class. Your feedback will help the instructor make this area more
interesting and useful for everyone. Note that 25 points in the
"grading" section below are for using the discussion area
(other than the required assignments) to post questions and answers,
and bring information to your classmates attention.
Astronomy 10-DE1 are based on your performance on 11 online quizzes,
one midterm exam, a final exam, three assignments which require
you to post material to the discussion board, and of course participation
in on-line discussions. These assignments are described in more
you should begin
your studies by consulting the weekly schedule and reading the appropriate
sections described there. These assignments will include sections
from the textbook, a CD-ROM entitled "PlanetTales" that was created
especially for this course, and selected external web sites.
There will be 11 quizzes on dates given in the schedule. In practice,
these online quizzes function as both homework assignments and study
aids since you may work on them over a period of several days. Quizzes
will be based on text, Internet, and materials from "PlanetTales."
Quiz due dates are listed in the syllabus, while the quiz itself
can be found in the "Quizzes and Exams" section of the course. Each
quiz must be completed (i.e. submitted) by the due date for full
credit. Solutions to the quizzes will be provided immediately after
For summer session, quiz zero is open for one
week, while quizzes 1 - 5 are open until the midterm. Quizzes 6
- 10 are open between the midterm and final exam. If you haven't
taken quizzes 1-5 by the midterm, you can still take them late.
See the section below on missed quizzes. When you visit the Class
schedule, you will see the exact dates.
If you miss a deadline for
submitting a quiz, you can still turn it in late! The price you
pay for lateness, however, is an automatic 10% deduction for submission
after a deadline.
Unless the instructor fails to post a quiz on time, there will
be no exceptions made to this policy ...i.e., If you had to work,
or were ill, or had a relative in need of care, or if your Internet
service provider went off line, you will still miss at least 10%
on that quiz if its late. I apologize for this strict policy, but
10% on a single quiz is very unlikely to harm your overall grade
(see the grading policy below). On the other hand, please feel free
to let me know if there are legitimate problems going on. At the
very least, I will know that you are still involved in the class
and perhaps I can help in some small way!
vs. fair use policy
In my opinion
(as both an instructor and as a long time student), there are three
important components to learning a subject: learning on your own,
learning by interacting with others, and getting feedback to see
whether you really understand something. In Astronomy 10, I wish
to strongly encourage all three methods. Most of your assignments
will be designed to do just that ...getting you to do some research
to answer questions that will pique your interest and help you learn,
and then discuss the responses with others, either in person or
through the class discussions area.
however, represent a bit of a gray area. On the quizzes, you will
be asked a series of questions (mostly multiple choice) that test
your understanding of a topic, or at least your familiarity with
the learning resources (i.e. where to find the answer in the text,
or on the web). So here is the dilemma: Can you ask a classmate
or someone else about quiz questions? The answer is "sometimes."
To make this
a bit less cryptic, here is how you cheat
on a quiz:
Student Albert takes the quiz and submits his answers. Feedback
is automatically output for each question. Albert's friend, Sabrina,
then gets the feedback (i.e. the correct answers)
from Albert and uses those answers to get a higher score on the
quiz. In this case, both Albert and Sabrina are clearly cheating.
On the other
hand, here is what is fair in taking a quiz:
- Take it yourself
without asking anyone else.
- Send an email to,
or phone, the instructor, asking specific questions.
- Ask a classmate
where to look for information leading to the answer.
While it is
difficult for the instructor to be positive if a student is or is
not taking a quiz fairly, it is usually easy enough to tell by comparing
the times that a quiz is submitted with the score and by comparing
performance on the exams with performance on quizzes. Such problems
are rare at Las Positas, but they have occurred. Please don't be
overly worried; I am not expecting to find any evidence of cheating!
well on quizzes:
are three things you can do to improve your quiz score:
the appropriate text, CD-ROM, and Web sites as listed in the syllabus
before starting the quiz!
2) take the
on-line practice quizzes provided by the published of your textbook.
There is a hyperlink the weekly schedule that will get you to the
right place. About 25% of these questions will be found on our quizzes,
and other questions are quite similar
3) Use the
discussion are to post questions and helpful information.
There is one
midterm, and one final exam . The midterm is composed of four to
six essay questions, while the final is a mixture of multiple choice
and essays. Exams are open for a period of a few days, but they
are also timed. In other words, you can begin the exam anytime during
a three day period, for example, but once you begin you have 3 hours
for the midterm, and 4.5 hours for the final exam to finish. The
material on both exams should be quite familiar from your experience
with prior quizzes--The content for both exams will rely heavily
on quizzes, as well as some important text, Internet, and "PlanetTales"
topics not covered on quizzes. If you miss the midterm exam without
arranging for a make-up exam, you may still take a make-up at the
discretion of the instructor (i.e. if missing the exam was unavoidable).
However, 10% will be deducted from your point total.
be no "after the fact" make-up for the final exam Prior arrangements
must be made well ahead of time.
Assignments and Research.
Astro 10 student projects on the web (not required for summer
session, but interesting nonetheless).
be three assignments for you to complete this summer. The first
is simply a matter of "paperwork", getting your email
setup, using the discussion area for the first time, and creating
a home page for yourself. The second assignment is a survey of your
friends and family regarding "astro-literacy", and the
third is a current event update, where you do a bit of research
on the web and from print sources and post a one or two page "review
article" in the discussion area. Much more information on these
assignments are found in both the weekly syllabus and the Assignments
area of Blackboard.