Q & A For Taking Astronomy Online

Questions answered:

    Pre-semester topics

  1. What software and hardware do you need to take the internet Astronomy internet course?
  2. How is the information presented---videos, reading, or what?
  3. How much time is required for the course? How long do you have to be connected to the internet?
  4. How do you "attend" an online course?
  5. The class schedule book says the course is ``self-paced''. What does that mean for this course?
  6. What is the textbook for the internet Astronomy class?
  7. Do I have to purchase the hardcopy textbook or can I just use the online textbook?
  8. What is in the Student Guide and where do I get it?
  9. How do I sign up for the internet Astronomy class?
  10. The registration system says the class is full. How can I still sign up for the class?
  11. It is after the first week of the semester, can I still sign up for the class?
  12. Exams and quizzes

  13. How is testing done?
  14. What if my computer-network connection crashes on the day of the exams or quizzes?
  15. Other assignments

  16. How do I find out what the assignments are?
  17. What format should the homework assignments be in? Can I use Word or other word processing software for the assignments?
  18. I did the Sapling Homework assignment but it doesn't appear in the Canvas Grades
  19. How do I access the lectures?
  20. I noticed that there is a skywatch project requiring data collection and a report. How do I do that online?
  21. Communication with instructor and other students

  22. How do I contact the instructor?
  23. How do I interact with the other students?
  24. How do you grade the discussion assignments? << under construction >>
  25. I posted a question to the discussion forum and have not seen an answer yet. How do I get an answer?
  26. Is there tutoring for this class?
  27. Is it possible to sit in on one of the face-to-face classes?

 

Answer section

  1. What software and hardware do you need to take the internet Astronomy internet course?

    ALL class work is done online except for the skywatch assignment (see Q/A #18). You need to be able to view web pages and send/receive email. So you need a computer with some sort of graphical interface like Windows, Macintosh, OS/2, Solaris, X-windows, etc. That computer must be hooked to the internet in some way: modem, T1/100 line, etc. All assignments and the discussion will be done over the web, so you'll need to have a reliable web connection.

    The online homework assignments require you to use a regular computer (laptop or desktop) with Flash enabled and turned on. The homework canNOT be done on a cell phone or tablet! Any modern web browser within the last ten years or so has Flash but it may require you to turn it on and enable it for the Sapling Learning website. Use a Google search with the search term "turning on flash in web browser" to find out how to turn it on for your web browser and enable it for Sapling Learning. See the Sapling Minimum Hardware/Software Requirements for more information, including what versions of Flash and web browser you need.

    YOU will need to find a stable/robust/reliable internet connection, especially for the quizzes and exams on Wednesdays. Students outside the Bakersfield area: see the special note at the end of Q/A #13.

  2. How is the information presented---videos, reading, or what?

    All of the information is presented via web pages, so you'll do a lot of reading (there are no videos or CD's). I will put links to the slides on the class Canvas. The material is presented in full form in the textbook. The textbook, Astronomy Notes, is available online and in regular paper form. See the "Opt-Req" link before purchasing the hardcopy. You may find other astronomy textbooks that are good supplements to the course but you will be required to know and apply the concepts presented in the required textbook, Astronomy Notes.

    You'll need to purchase the Astronomy B1 Physics of the Cosmos Student Guide from the campus bookstore and the Sapling Learning access code from the campus bookstore. You can purchase the Sapling Learning access code directly from the publisher by selecting the link. Access code valid for only ONE student.

  3. How much time is required for the course? How long do you have to be connected to the internet?

    You can expect to need at least 9 hours per week devoted to the astronomy class: reading information online or in the paper version of the text, studying away from the computer, working on homework assignments and quizzes, emailing, etc. If you read the text and lectures exclusively online, then you'll spend several hours per week online, but you can also limit your time online by getting the paper version of the text, so actual online time can be just an hour or two per week. However, total study and reading time will be at least 9 hours per week (note that means 9 hours per week is a minimum to get a satisfactory grade---most people will need more than 9 hours per week!). Title 5 California Education Code Section 55002.5 says BC's 3-unit courses must be 47 in-class time including Final exam + at least 97 hours outside of class = at least 144 hours total. YOU will need to find a stable/robust/reliable internet connection.

  4. How do you "attend" an online course?

    "Attending" or "Participating in" any online course means logging in regularly to the course website and doing whatever assignments are required for the week, including any discussion assignments. If you don't attend your online course for a certain length of time set by the college, you can be dropped from the college. For Bakersfield College, the course website is on Canvas and the non-participation time limit is two weeks worth and that block of time does not have to be contiguous. Bakersfield College also has a "drop on first day" policy for students who miss the first day of class which for an online class means the first week of class assignments. The attendance policies at Bakersfield College (whether it is online, face-to-face, or hybrid) are stated in the Bakersfield College Catalog in the "Attendance Policies" part of "General Information" section of the Catalog. At the end of the Distance Learning Attendance and Non-Participation Policy in the Catalog is the statement:

  5. The class schedule book says the course is ``self-paced''. What does that mean for this course?

    For the astronomy internet course, ``self-paced'' means that you choose the time during the day (or night) that you want to read the text and lectures, work on your homework and discussion assignments, and send/receive email. However, there are absolute due dates for the assignments. Homework, quizzes, and exams will be due at 5 pm on the due day.

    Modern astronomy deals with some very mind-expanding stuff requiring sophisticated abstract and logical thinking so you will need to give your brain TIME to mull over and digest the concepts. Finding sufficient TIME to study the concepts and think and synthesize the concepts is the greatest stumbling block to students. Students who try to cram their studying in the day before an assignment is due get D's and F's.

  6. What is the textbook for the internet Astronomy class?

    The textbook is Astronomy Notes by Nick Strobel available at the campus bookstore or from McGraw-Hill directly. See the "Opt-Req" link before purchasing the hardcopy.

    You'll need to purchase the Astronomy B1 Physics of the Cosmos Student Guide from the campus bookstore and the Sapling Learning access code from the campus bookstore. You can purchase the Sapling Learning access code directly from the publisher by selecting the link. Access code valid for only ONE student.

  7. Do I have to purchase the hardcopy textbook or can I just use the online textbook?

    See the "Opt-Req" page before purchasing the hardcopy.

  8. What is in the Student Guide and where do I get it?
  9. The Student Guide is available from the campus bookstore. You will also need to purchase an access code for the homework posted on Sapling Learning.

    The Student Guide has:

  10. How do I sign up for the internet Astronomy class?

    See the Bakersfield College Admissions homepage.

  11. The registration system says the class is full. How can I still sign up for the class?

    Get on the waitlist for the class. Usually the enrollment in the class fluctuates up to the first day of the semester as students drop and add classes to fit their schedules and the waitlist process will automatically roll you into the class when an opening occurs. So check the online system (BannerWeb) frequently to see if you have been rolled into "registered status". During the first week of class I do take a few overloads.

  12. It is after the first week of the semester, can I still sign up for the class?

    No. You will need to take the course another semester or find another course to enroll in late.

  13. How is testing done?

    The Exams are online on the class Canvas and are in multiple-choice format. Exams are closed book and no notes. You select your answers within the 85 minute time-period by clicking on the appropriate option button and click on the "Submit" button at the bottom when you're done. Quizzes are also multiple-choice but they are open-book, open-notes and you will be able to work with a partner. You select your answers within the 30 minute time-period by clicking on the appropriate option button and click on the "Submit" button. The links to the Quizzes and Exams will be active on the morning of the due date and will be deactivated at 5 PM (Pacific Timezone). You will have until 5 PM (Pacific Timezone) to submit your answers.

    Exams will be done through the Proctorio service in Canvas that will require you to use the Google Chrome browser and a computer or device with a webcam/camera. Proctorio ensures a level playing field that protects the integrity of student work as required by federal financial aid regulations. More details about Proctorio exam taking:

    You may take the exam on paper with one of the face-to-face classes IF you give me at least 24 hours advance notice.

    I suggest you try an internet connection at school, the public library, a DSL/cable modem connection, or any other "always on" connection.

    5 PM (Pacific Timezone) deadline: Note that you have to click the ``submit" button by the 5 PM (Pacific Timezone) deadline. It does NOT mean that you can start the quiz or exam at any time before 5 PM. Start the exam or quiz by enough time BEFORE 5 pm to get your answers submitted BY the 5 pm due time or you will get a zero (a costly mistake in the case of an exam).

    Students outside the Bakersfield area: see the special note at the end of the next question/answer!

  14. What if my computer-network connection crashes on the day of an exam or quiz?

    Computer network connections are fragile so check the stability of your internet connection in plenty of time to recover from the crash using the following steps. First try to find an alternate internet connection at your school or library. Most libraries (city and school) now have web connections. Or see if a friend's or relative's computer-internet link is available. If you cannot find an alternate internet connection, then you need to let me know before the due time of 5 pm.

    Before the due time (5 pm Pacific Timezone), you must call my office number, (661) 395-4526, and leave a message on my voice mail saying that your computer-network connection is down. Leave a phone number where I can reach you and arrange a time to take the exam. You will need to come to my office and take the exam on paper within a week's time during an office hour or other mutually-agreed upon time that is BEFORE 2 PM (yes, 2 PM, not 5 PM).

    Special note for those outside the Bakersfield area:
    Those of you who live outside the Bakersfield area will especially want to make sure you have access to a STABLE internet connection on exam day. I recommend that you take the exam well before the deadline time of 5 PM (Pacific Timezone) in case you have to locate another internet accessible computer to complete the exam by the 5 PM (Pacific Timezone) deadline. If you fail to find a working internet connection to take the exam, you will need to come to my office on the Bakersfield College campus and take the exam on paper within a week's time even if you are outside the Bakersfield area. It will be taken during an office hour or other mutually-agreed upon time that is BEFORE 2 PM.

  15. How do I find out what the assignments are?

    The assignments are given on the class Canvas. Select the link in the previous sentence to bring it up and place it in your bookmark or favorites database for quicker access next time. The class Canvas has links to ALL the assignments, including the homework that is on Sapling Learning. The link to the quiz or exam for that week will become active on Wednesday morning. All homework, quizzes, and exams are due at 5 pm in the Pacific timezone of the USA. Make appropriate adjustments for your timezone, so that they reach me on time.

  16. What format should the homework assignments be in?

    Homework assignments are done on Sapling Learning. The homework canNOT be done on a cell phone or tablet. It must be done on a regular computer (laptop or desktop) with Flash enabled and turned on. There are links to the Sapling Learning system homework on the class Canvas but you don't have to go through Canvas to do the homework---you can go directly to Sapling. However, the homework links on the class Canvas will also tell you which particular concepts on the exam review sheets go with a given homework assignment.

  17. I did the Sapling Homework assignment but it doesn't appear in the Canvas Grades

    The Sapling homework grades do not automatically transfer over to Canvas. They must be transferred manually and that usually happens during the weekend. There is a grades section in Sapling Learning that you can check to be sure Sapling has a score for you. That score will be transferred over to the Canvas Grades section sometime during the weekend.

  18. How do I access the lectures?

    Links to the lectures are given on the class Canvas. The links for the week's lecture will become active by Sunday evening (usually sooner). Use the lecture outlines in the Student Guide to help you determine what are the key things the instructor wants you to know. If you cannot fill in the blanks in a lecture's outline, ask the instructor for help!

  19. I noticed that there is a skywatch project requiring data collection and a report. How do I do that online?

    You don't! The available projects are described in chapters 4 and 5 of the Student Guide. The skywatch project of tracking the motion of the Sun is worth 60 points required credit plus an additional 40 points possible for extra credit. The others are worth just the 60 points required credit. You will record your skywatch observations, write up your results, and make a printout (hardcopy) that you will turn in to me (or to the secretary in SE 57) on or before the due date stated in the syllabus and class calendar.

    If you cannot come to campus to turn the project in, then mail the data record and final report. If you mail me your data record or your final report, allow for at least 3 days mail transit time so that it arrives by the due date! The due dates for the final report and the data record are when the hardcopy must be in my hands, not the postmark.

  20. How do I contact the instructor?

    Nick Strobel's email address is nstrobel at bakersfieldcollege.edu. Contact links are given at the bottom of each textbook web page, and each assignment web page has an email link. The email link looks like the one at the bottom of this web page. Select the link to bring up your email software with my email address already entered in the ``To'' space. Allow for up to 24 hours response time during the school week.

    I can also be reached by phone at (661) 395-4526. I do have voice mail. You can also leave messages at (661) 395-4224. You can see me in person at my office (Math-Science 101 at the Bakersfield College campus) during my office hours given on the syllabus or some other time by appointment. Note that during winter break and summer break I will NOT respond right away since I will be away from an internet connection at times (or I may be catching up on the sleep I missed during the semester).

  21. How do I interact with the other students?

    You can post messages to the class Canvas's Discussions area. I hope you'll use this method to ask questions about the material or other aspects of the class. Also, students can text, tweet, snapchat, IM to send messages back and forth. Each week you'll be assigned a partner to interact with in Canvas Groups. Use your partner to work on any tutorial, homework, or weekly quiz for that week. See this link for how to use Discussions within your weekly group to discuss things with your partner. Link for more about Canvas Groups.

  22. How do you grade the discussion assignments?

    The things you post in the Discussions area or in your weekly group's Discussion section will not be graded. I hope you'll have enough internal motivation and maturity to use the discussions feature to reach out to your classmates without having to be forced to do so because of a grade.

  23. I posted a question to the discussion board and have not seen an answer yet. How do I get an answer?

    Usually I respond right away but it may take up to 24 hours during the weekday in some cases. Hopefully, other students will respond before I do. There may be times when I did not see your posting to the Discussions area, so emailing me is a good way to point it out to me.

  24. Is there tutoring for this class?

    The Learning Center on the Bakersfield College campus (second floor of the Student Services Building) has peer tutoring free for students with a student body card. If you have difficulty with the mathematics, ask for a MATH tutor. If you have difficulty with a physics concept, ask for a PHYSICS tutor. The Learning Center also has a Basic Skills Computer Lab to help you with your math and grammar. Use the tutors for getting the concepts. Use the computer lab for getting the practice.

    I am too often lonely during my office hours and I would be very happy to help you understand the concepts one-on-one. Those times are set aside especially for you to get the help you need. If you cannot come in during an office hour, then contact me to arrange another time to meet at a time before 2 PM (and not when I am teaching or doing a planetarium show).

  25. Is it possible to sit in on one of the face-to-face classes?

    Yes, but you must notify me ahead of time. There are other astronomy classes taught by other professors and you must get permission from them to sit in on their class.

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last updated: February 13, 2018


Contact: Nick Strobel