Around AU

Students in AU’s Centre for Science are sure to be ?bugged? by this news: biology professor Dr. Robert Holmberg retired at the end of December. Dr. Holmberg has been developing and teaching courses at AU since 1974, including BIOL 204: Principles of Biology I, BIOL 205: Principles of Biology II, and BIOL 345: Ecology. Along with teaching about the fascinating world of insects and arachnids, Dr. Holmberg investigated methods for effectively teaching science, particularly biology, at a distance. The Voice wishes him well in his new endeavours!

As part of the Science Outreach ? Athabasca program, the month of November brought Pirkko Karvonen to AU Central to debut her latest film, Peter Sawatzky: Life in Bronze. The film follows the creation of Peter’s newest larger-than-life bronze sculpture, documenting the process of translating the beauty of caribou in their natural setting into wax and finally into bronze. Let’s hope that these presentations will be made available via podcast soon, so the entire AU community can enjoy them.

The conversion of AU courses to the Moodle learning platform is underway, and a staff website is available to help smooth the process. Along with a course conversion schedule, the site gives AU staff an overview of Moodle, training, support networks, and links to more Moodle-related info. Here’s to the ease of adding assignments to a Moodle dropbox, and the end of wondering whether they got there via email!

A group of AU staff and faculty has been busy getting a life?a Second Life, that is. The group is interested in the possibilities that the popular computer program holds for distance education. In Second Life, participants create an onscreen persona (an avatar), and interact with other avatars in a virtual world. The concept of combining distance learning and Second Life is still unproven, but archaeology students, for example, might be able to visit virtual, 3D dig sites to enhance their textbook material. Here’s an interesting video about the potential educational uses of the program.

With special thanks to Athabasca University’s The Insider.

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