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AMS Ocean Studies Course Information
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Course Components

Implementation Examples

Course Management System Integration

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Frequently Asked Questions

Raymond Giddings
Anupa Asokan
Katie O'Neill

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Frequently Asked Questions
about AMS Ocean Studies


We have compiled several common questions about offering the AMS Ocean Studies course and have posted their answers below. Should your question not be answered in this listing, please:

Question Topics

Gaining Approval to Offer the Course

Q. I am a professor who would like to offer the course, but getting a new course approved is very difficult and time consuming. Do you have any advice?

A. There might already be a course in your college catalog, such as “Introduction to Oceanography" or "Oceans and Climate” which could serve as a home for AMS Ocean Studies. The course can be offered with a title other than AMS Ocean Studies. Remember that AMS Ocean Studies is a very versatile offering which may be easily adapted to many course descriptions and situations. Be sure to check lists of infrequently offered or banked/archived courses. Also, look into courses offered by other disciplines, which could be cross-listed with your own. In some cases, the course is offered as a “special topics” or “directed reading course.”back to top

Q. I will have to submit a detailed proposal to the curriculum committee to get the course approved. Can I get a syllabus for the course?

A. Because the course is offered in so many ways and by individual faculty members at many colleges, AMS does not provide a syllabus for the course. However, a course schedule and syllabus can easily be constructed from information found on the Textbook info page, the eInvestigations Manual info page, and by viewing the real-time course delivery schedule.back to top

Q. Is the course suitable to be offered as a lab science course?

A. To offer AMS Ocean Studies as a lab science course, you will need to obtain an institutional license. We strongly recommend that you have your students use the complete course package, which includes the Textbook, Investigations Manual, and RealTime Ocean Portal (course website) access. The twice weekly investigations found in the Investigations Manual plus weekly Current Ocean Studies investigations on the RealTime Ocean Portal are considered by many to be ideal lab exercises with a mix of hands-on exploration, data analysis, and map and graph work. These investigations are similar to activites found in many typical lab manuals except that in the case of AMS Ocean Studies they are based on current and/or real-world oceanographic information. Offering the course with additional semester credit hours adds value because there are no additional licensing fees or book costs.back to top

Q. What is the major advantage to incorporating the real-time aspects of the course (in addition to using the Textbook and Investigations Manual)?

A. The real-time aspect has been proven (i.e., in the AMS Weather Studies course, on which AMS Ocean Studies is modeled) to heighten student interest and extend learning by incorporating current oceanographic data with the specific topic of the lesson. Also, the Weekly Ocean News will be available each week when the course is offered and current ocean data, graphics, and satellite imagery are continously available from the RealTime Ocean Portal, offering the ability to fashion additional exercises.back to top

Faculty Background

Q. What kind of background does the instructor need to offer the course?

A. Specific qualifications needed for offering the course will depend on the course design and the departmental and curricular policies in effect at your institution. The course can be offered by instructors with a broad range of backgrounds. The design of the course and accompanying Faculty Manual (provided via dropbox) allow the course to be successfully implemented by instructors with little formal training in oceanography. The course can be offered in a variety of departments including: oceanography, meteorology, mathematics, physical science, physics, biology, geography and earth science. In some cases, the course may be offered as part of a career degree program, such as teacher education, geotechnologies, and natural resources.back to top

Q. If I do not have a lot of formal training in oceanography, will I feel comfortable offering the course?

A. The course materials are presented in such a way that an instructor in most science and mathematics departments should have no difficulty offering the course. The AMS Ocean Studies complete course package includes everything needed for your success. While one might wish to add supplementary materials in some situations, the course (as packaged) is a robust introduction to oceanography. Collegial assistance will be available from faculty members who have already offered AMS Ocean Studies and AMS science educators will answer questions on all aspects of course delivery and content. A Faculty Website and comprehensive Faculty Resource material (provided via dropbox) will provide answer keys to investigations, a large test-question bank, and suggestions for offering the course in various ways.back to top

Q. How much mathematics is needed for the course?

A. While oceanography is a quantitative science, this introductory course does not require extensive preparation beyond basic algebra.

Q. If I offer this course as a distance education course over the web, how will I give exams and communicate with my students?

A. Making this course a totally online experience for students depends on local institutional needs and technical capabilities. Most institutions have an Office of Information Technology, Distance Education, or Continuing Education department, which provides assistance with these kinds of issues. They may also assist you in developing your own course management website for administering the course. Modern technology allows a wide range of distance education implementations. In most cases, though, the course will successfully be delivered via the accompanying RealTime Ocean Portal and the use of phone, fax, or email for communication with students. back to top

Course Management Systems

Q. Can AMS Ocean Studies be administered using course management systems such as Blackboard and WebCT?

A. Many colleges offer the course using Blackboard, WebCT, or other course management systems. These systems are used in traditional lecture/laboratory and distance learning offerings. AMS recommends you check with your college administration to see if this is a requirement. For colleges using course management systems, we provide all textbook chapter, Investigations Manual, Current Ocean Studies, and test bank questions as files compatible with Respondus, test generation software for which your institution may have a license. Respondus opens formatted files and converts them to various course management system files.back to top

Q. My college requires that I use a course management system and I have no experience with such a program. Where should I go for assistance?

A. First, contact your Office of Information Technology, Distance Education, or Continuing Education. This office will typically help you set up your course management system and website. Please contact AMS if you would like to speak with other AMS Ocean Studies faculty members using the same course management system.back to top

Quality and Integrity Issues

Q. This is an innovative delivery method. How successful has it been?

A. AMS Ocean Studies content is based on that of the highly successful AMS DataStreme Ocean graduate-level K-12 teacher enhancement course which has been offered since Fall 2003. Virtually all of the AMS Ocean Studies components have been used and tested as a part of this prior program. AMS Ocean Studies has benefited from the feedback AMS has received from the teachers who have completed the DataStreme Ocean course and the more formal assessments that have been undertaken to evaluate it for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which funded DataStreme Ocean through the Cooperative Program for Earth System Education (CPESE).

The AMS Ocean Studies course structure is modeled after the AMS Weather Studies course, which has been implemented since Fall 1999 by over 490 institutions. AMS Ocean Studies has been implemented at over 180 institutions.back to top

Q. Can we count on the quality and integrity of this course?

A.The course itself bears the seal of a distinguished professional scientific society which has been in existence since 1919. The AMS Education Program has delivered quality educational programs in meteorology, oceanography, and climate science in partnerships with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation (NSF), SUNY College at Brockport, United States Naval Academy, the Office of Naval Research, and the Naval Meteorological and Oceanographic Command. AMS Ocean Studies was developed in cooperation with NOAA, and the Geosciences Diversity Project was supported by an NSF grant. In addition, several national experts in education and oceanography have contributed to the development of this course insuring its scientific integrity.back to top

Textbook Issues

Q. How may I order an evaluation copy of the textbook (and Investigations Manual)?

A. If you are interested in using the Ocean Studies Textbook (or Textbook and Investigations Manual) in a current or future course offering, you may request an examination copy.

If you would like to order the book for personal use, please visit the AMS Online Store and select "Ocean Studies."back to top

Q. How will course materials be handled?

A. AMS Ocean Studies course materials will be sold by college or local bookstores as an Access Card with instructions and coupon that students will use to download the ebooks at no cost. Institutions licensing the full course typically have their bookstores order the AMS Ocean Studies Student ePackage, but may also purchase the textbook and eInvestigations Manual separately.

Q. What specific information do I need to provide the bookstore?

A.Click here for a PDF file containing detailed course materials information for your bookstore.

Q. How do bookstores place an order?

A. Bookstores should send a purchase order to us by mail or fax.

AMS Ocean Studies
1200 New York Ave NW, Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20005-3928
Fax: 202-737-0445

Bookstores are encouraged to call 202-737-1043 if there are any further questions.back to top

Course Licensing Fee and Costs

Q. How much does it cost to license AMS Ocean Studies?

A. The Course License is only $149 and extends from August 15th to August 14th the following year. This is a flat fee and allows the licensee to offer the course in an unlimited number of course sections throughout the year. Visit the License Procedure page for details.

Q I am a professor who would like to offer the course but I don’t know where I would get the licensing fee? Who pays for the course?

A. Most departments can cover the licensing cost as a petty cash expenditure.  Additionally, you might talk to your Office of Distance or Continuing Education about their potential offer to assist in providing funding for this course. Also, check with your academic vice president, dean, business or budget office to see if there is a budget category to cover these types of costs. Inquire about how other courses your institution is offering which have license fees (Oceanus, Planet Earth, The Earth Revealed are just a few possible examples) manage these cost arrangements.back to top

Q. Can students be assessed a special fee to cover the costs of the course?

A. Covering the cost of the license fees for the course is a local matter that has to be determined by your institution.

Q. Can the course be licensed for use by schools using a quarter system or for an intersession or a summer session?

A. AMS Ocean Studies can be offered at any time by using the Textbook and Investigations Manual, which are designed to function together as a complete course. (Colleges offering the course during fall and spring semesters are strongly encouraged to incorporate Current Ocean Studies investigations available on the RealTime Ocean Portal.back to top

Q. Can one license be used on multiple campuses?

A. Generally, the answer is no. One license covers the course being offered as many times during the licensed period as wanted on the campus that purchased the license. Offering the course through multiple instructors on one campus that has enrollment open to other campuses requires only one license. Offering the course on different campuses through different instructors requires additional licenses. For further clarification, please contact us.

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