Abstract # 154:

Scheduled for Friday, June 22, 2007 05:00 PM-07:00 PM: Session 14 (South Main Hall) Poster Presentation

Teaching Primatology Online: Challenges and Opportunities to Engage Students about Science

D. A. Smucny
University of Maryland University College, Social Sciences, School of Undergraduate Studies, 3501 University Blvd., East, PG Metro III, Room 7712, Adelphi, MD 20783, USA
     In a traditional face-to-face classroom format, primatology and primate behavior courses represent popular undergraduate courses. Online Education now has become an important part of the undergraduate curriculum in many colleges and universities in the United States, particularly at institutions which serve nontraditional students (e.g., working adults, active military). While the online format offers students flexibility and convenience of access, instructors are faced with the challenges of: (1) presenting and discussing course material in an asynchronous setting; (2) maintaining academic rigor and quality; and (3) promoting a community of learners in a distance education environment. Courses in primatology and primate behavior provide exciting opportunities for online delivery. In this presentation, ideas to establish, enhance and improve online courses in primate studies will be discussed, with particular emphasis on the development of relevant learning objects to support specific needs of the online student. Online learning objects include interactive taxonomic exercises, ethograms developed from video clips of primate behavior, as well as online self-assessments. Online enhancements, such as course modules and links to textbook companion sites, also serve to engage the online learner. Due to popular interest in monkeys and apes, primatology and primate behavior courses represent the perfect opportunity for non-science students to learn more about science, and to explore important scientific issues, such as evolution, conservation, and environmental sustainability.