The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences' OER initiative
Many faculty members of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences create digital educational resources for use by students in Penn State courses. Faculty participants in the College's OER initiative have contributed their work on this site voluntarily for use by teachers and learners around the world who can't afford to enroll in formal classes, or who don't need to earn academic credit. The College announced its OER initiative - Penn State's first - July 29, 2008. See the announcement at Penn State Live.
Resources include digital video, texts, simulations, animations and illustrations, all organized by course. Links to the resources, which Penn State calls "courseware modules," appear in the Courseware section of this site.
Want to use these resources?
The College's open educational resources are freely available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license. You'll find more information, including a link to the license, in the License section.
Want to register for academic credit?
Most of our open resources are used in formal online courses in which students register to gain access to Penn State faculty and to earn academic credit. To learn how to register, visit the Register page.
Want to open your resources?
We welcome contributions from Penn State faculty courseware authors as well as from those who wish to provide financial support needed to promote the initiative. For more information please visit the Contribute page.
Your feedback is important to us. Please respond to the survey found on our Your comments page.
You'll find many examples of engaging learning activities and rich multimedia content in our OER collection. Here are just a few examples:
- Sarma Pisupati's "Residential Energy Consumption" activity, a hands-on Flash-based application that helps students learn course concepts by having them gather energy consumption data from the appliances in a virtual home and then calculate the energy usage, estimate environmental impact of this usage, and suggest ways in which electricity consumption can be reduced. From EGEE 102: Energy and the Environment.
- Eliza Richardson's seismic hazard lesson, in which her students collect data, calculate seismic recurrence intervals, examine and evaluate evidence presented in scientific papers, and discuss ways to teach this topic to secondary school audiences. From EARTH 501: Contemporary Controversies in the Earth Sciences.
- Richard Alley's "Rivers of Rocks & Permafrost at Bear Meadows," an explanation of how the local geology of central PA relates to that of the Colorado Rockies and the Alaskan tundra. Dozens of “in-the-field” videos just like this enable students to “accompany” Drs. Alley and Sridhar Anandakrishnan on a kind of virtual field trip through the U.S. National Parks, as well as various other local and regional points of geologic importance, in order to gain a deeper understanding of their planet and Earth systems. From GEOSC 10: Geology of the National Parks.
- Michael Mann's course METEO 469 - From Meteorology to Mitigation: Understanding Global Warming. "To really understand this very societally important problem of global climate change there are a whole range of things that we need to understand starting with basic meteorology, the way the atmosphere works, the way the ocean works, the way the earth's climate system works, to issues involving climate change impacts that are projected given certain scenarios of human behavior and fossil fuel burning. Then, how can we avert possible climate change futures through interventions in our behavior of carbon emissions?" Throughout this study students use innovative 'statistical tools' to better understand and visualize what global climate data tells us about the earth's future.