Online science courses are widely available at many colleges and universities in both for-credit and non-credit formats. Some schools, like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offer non-credit undergraduate and graduate science courses free of charge via the OpenCourseWare system. These courses introduce students to and familiarize them with some aspect of what humanity has learned about the natural world. Students take part in virtual lectures and discussion sessions. They also learn through the use of video, computer graphics and Web-based visual aids. Similar to on-campus students, online students are often required to complete assigned readings.
Online Science Courses
Below is a list of some typical science courses offered online.
- Earth Science - Oceanography Course: This class often provides an expansive introduction to the topic. Coursework includes weekly discussion sessions and problems sets that apply simple mathematical concepts to oceanography. Lectures cover the geology of ocean basins and their formation billions of years ago. Students also learn about the interaction between climate and ocean in the formation of waves, currents and hurricanes. Other topics include the emergence and evolution of life in the oceans and the effect of pollution on ocean ecosystems.
- Alternative Energy Sources: This distance learning course often explores the costs and benefits of alternative energy sources and the issues affecting their small-, medium- and large-scale deployment. The course relies on the Internet for information about alternative energy's various forms because the field of alternative energy technology is changing so rapidly. It is often arranged as a series of modules with associated homework assignments due at specified times. Students learn about solar, wind, tide, hydroelectric, ocean current and geothermal energy sources.
- Galileo and Einstein: This history of science course explains how Galileo's insights into the physical nature of celestial objects and Einstein's insights into the relationship between space, time, matter and energy changed perceptions about the natural laws governing humans, Earth and all of the cosmos. The course also reviews the scientific contributions of ancient Greek and Middle Eastern mathematicians and astronomers. In addition, students learn about Issac Newton's synthesis of his predecessors' findings into a coherent system.
- Air Pollution: This course typically covers the causes and effects of high concentrations of pollution in the atmosphere. Some of the topics covered are the nature and sources of gaseous and particulate pollutants, as well as their transport, dispersion, modification and removal, with emphasis on atmospheric processes on scales ranging from individual sources to global effects.