NAU Biology BIO 372
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BIO372 : Class

The Class

Character of a Web Class

The most obvious difference between a web course and a traditional lecture course is that you do not see the professor in person. Instead, most communication is through e-mail. The disadvantage is that you don't discuss subjects face-to-face with the professor. An advantage is that an answer to a question is written so you can study it and think about it without forgetting what the professor said.

You will rely on the readings a lot, as that is the reference material for the class. Instead of lectures, there will be readings assigned with an outline guide in the lesson on the web. Assignments consist of questions specifically on topics in the readings or extensions of the concepts and principles in the readings. You learn by reading the articles AND by working through the assignments. Many of the assignments deal with biological issues in the real world: applying principles, writing hypotheses, examining evidence, and seeking solutions.

When you see your grades in Vista for the assignments, look for any comments from the instructor. You will have to review the assignment you sent in to see where your answers fit and did not fit the questions. Except for the subjects you choose individually for some of the assignments, the material you need to complete the activities and quizzes are present in the class web pages, the links to other web pages, and in the readings. After you have reviewed your work with reference to the class web pages, links, and readings, you may wish to e-mail the professor.

Advantage of the Web Technology

There are many resources on the web that are relevant to biology. The web gives quick access to these resources without going to the library or buying another book. There are graphics, figures, graphs, and animations that illustrate text. Some images come from satellites, others from microscope slides.

As soon as a new site is put on the web, it is available to the class. Search engines can find almost anything, but you have to ask the right question and filter the results to find relevant web sites. You develop this skill with practice. One of the first activities in this class develops your skills in efficiently finding relevant information on the web.

Taking a Web Class

Work at your own pace: There are deadlines for turning in assignments and taking tests. You should view (or print out) the assignments well in advance of the due date. Plan how and when you will complete the assignment so that you meet the deadline. You can work in the day, in the evening, in the middle of the night, and on weekends and holidays as long as you submit the assignments by the deadline. That's a lot of flexibility with minimal stress.

Format: A course taken on the web is different from a course taken in the classroom in at least the following ways.

  1. You need certain technical skills to use the computer - we will help you develop these skills.
  2. There are numerous small activities rather than a few large tests: you work with the subject matter instead of memorizing it.
  3. You will have to exercise self-discipline to work independently and keep up with the course - the course schedule will help you do that.

The lure of the web: If you find biology and the information on the web interesting, the sirens of the web will call you to spend your time there. You will find more sites relevant to the topics and the assignments, and some will be very interesting. You have to learn to recognize when you have the information required by the course and not spend many more hours than you should. Learn to judge when to stop.

Taking This Web Class

Difficulty of the class: If you have had the prerequisites for the class, the content will not present an intellectual obstacle. You will learn new material. Much of biology seems like common sense when you understand it. The challenge comes from having to apply these common sense principles to situations, having to focus your attention on specifics, and differentiating among alternatives on the basis of evidence. In other words, the primary challenge of the course comes not in learning new facts, but in analyzing, interpreting, and making use of those facts.

Time to do the work You should plan to spend about 10 hours per week concentrating on this course. Each week there will be four assignments, which should take you no more than an hour each on the average. You should plan to spend at least 3 hours per week reading AND STUDYING the assigned articles. That leaves you 3 more hours to LEARN (reflecting, analyzing, thinking about) biology. Remember, 3 of those 10 hours you saved by not sitting in a lecture for an hour 3 times a week.

As you develop your learning and analytical abilities and perfect your computer skills, you should become more efficient in your work and the class will take less time. You will have to consciously work to do that.

Assignments: The assignments are found in Vista. For the first and last assignments (questionnaires), follow the directions to complete both parts. For the other assignments, click on the name of the assignment file and then download it to your own computer. Change the name of the file on your computer. Enter your answers in the appropriate spaces and save the final version of your completed assignment on your computer. Then upload your completed assignment file to Vista.

Exams: There are no big exams. The tests all consist of 15 questions for 15 points. Questions are not tricky, but are designed for thoughtful answers in which, at least sometimes, you will have to distinguish among alternatives that may not seem so different at first. That's part of the learning process: to distinguish between similar alternatives based on the particular situation. Read the question accurately and understand what is being asked. The tests are open-book and you have 36 hours to do each one.

Deadlines: Grading is done as soon after the due date as possible. All assignments are graded together to ensure a uniform standard for the class, so it is necessary that the assignments from all students are together when they are graded. Assignments are available to students well in advance so as to allow you plenty of time to meet the deadline. Work sent after the deadline will receive a grade of zero.

Grades: You may check your grades in the class at any time in Vista. The grades are entered after the assignments are evaluated.

Extra Credit: Meet the deadlines and keep up with the work. There will be no extra credit.

E-mail Account: You will need an NAU computer account to access the class and the readings. An NAU computer account is free to students in the class.

Web Response: Web is fastest early in the morning, late at night, and on weekends.


If you decide to enroll in this course and successfully complete it, you can expect to achieve the following:

  1. Learn each of the topics in some depth
  2. Be able to apply your reading, research, and evaluative skills to other scientific topics as well as to non-scientific topics
  3. Gain a familiarity with several leading scientific magazines dealing with current and relevant issues
  4. Develop an ability to use the internet to search effectively for needed information
Keeping up with the course is essential to completing it successfully. If you know you will not be able to keep up by working independently, then enroll in a class delivered by more traditional means (e.g., in a classroom on campus). If you are confident that you can meet the challenge of taking this course on the web, then fill out the Student Profile/Agreement and welcome to BIO 372.
E-mail Professor Frederiksen at Professor Frederiksen

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