Abstract: I'll describe my experience in developing a transformed section of introductory undergraduate astronomy at the University of Colorado that emphasizes inquiry-based and collaborative learning with the aid of web-based information technology. Key elements of the transformed class include: a) Replacing lectures with content delivery through a web-based hypertext that is rich in multimedia simulations and links for exploration; b) Dividing a large (~200 students) class into "learning teams" of ~12 students each who meet once a week in a computer classroom to prepare answers to pre-posed "discussion questions" and to work collaboratively on team projects; c) Software and course design to facilitate synchronous and asynchronous communication among students in learning teams; d) Blocks of instruction for inquiry-based collaborative learning using Java-based simulations; and e) The employment of undergraduate learning assistants to supervise the learning teams. I'll also describe some of the issues that are being addressed on a national scale by the National Research Council Committee on Undergraduate Science Education (CUSE), which I chair.
Abstract:Thanks to a wonderful suite of telescopes on the ground and in space that can observe the sky at every wavelength band of the electromagnetic spectrum, astronomers are enjoying a golden age of discovery. In this talk, I'll give an illustrated overview of my own personal favorite list of the great unsolved problems in astrophysics. The wonderful thing about these problems is that there's a good chance that most of them will be solved in the next few decades. Here's my list:
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