Dino 101 Course from University of Alberta Debuts via Coursera

The University of Alberta has introduced Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology, a high-quality and rigorous massive open online course (MOOC) that teaches learners the scientific method through the broad appeal of dinosaurs.

The course, which will start at the beginning of September 2013, is currently open for registration, according to Katie Collins of Wired.co.uk.

“Dino 101 offers an engaging learning experience to anyone interested in palaeontology. We hope that this course will inspire the next generation of dinosaur researchers, and help excite the imagination of the general population,” Faculty of Science Dean Jonathan Schaeffer said.

The course will be led by Dr. Phil Currie, who is Curator of Dinosaurs at the University of Alberta Laboratory for Vertebrate Paleontology, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology course will be available in three versions. It will be free for all interested with no exam. It will also be offered to University of Alberta students for UAlberta credit; either the online course version (PALEO 200) or the in-class experience version (PALEO 201). In addition, it will be offered to students from around the world for course credit for a modest fee.

The University of Alberta has developed the course in partnership with MOOC provider Coursera. The course will be free to students and enthusiasts around the world and requires no particular academic background.

According to the University of Alberta, Dino 101 will be engaging for students, individuals, families and community members to share in the learning experience of the scientific method through the inspirational world of dinosaurs.

Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology is a 12-lesson course teaching a comprehensive overview of non-avian dinosaurs. It will cover topics including anatomy, eating, locomotion, growth, environmental and behavioral adaptations, origins and extinction.

The course will be presented over 12 lessons, which are delivered from museums, fossil-preparation labs and dig sites. “Interactive learning methods will involve online gaming and will offer students the opportunity to explore a 3D fossil file and manipulate real scanned dinosaur bones.”

The class will consist of lecture videos, which are 1-2 minutes in length, interposed with integrated quiz questions in addition to a unit test after each of the 12 lessons. Students taking the course for credit at the University of Alberta will be required to take a midterm and final exam as well.

Estimated workload for students seeking credit is around 7 to 10 hours a week. For non-credit students, the estimated workload is 3 to 5 hours a week.

“The course has met all the standards for accreditation at the University of Alberta, one of Canada’s top five research universities. We paid particular attention to the online midterm and final exams to ensure a high-quality assessment of students and their learning outcomes,” Schaeffer said.