Biol 1309 life on earth
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BIOL 1309 Life on Earth. Hello and welcome to the class. This course is based upon Life on Earth , a nature series consisting of 13 videotapes. The series is narrated by Sir David Attenborough and produced by the BBC. BIOL 1309 Life on Earth.

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Biol 1309 life on earth
BIOL 1309 Life on Earth

  • Hello and welcome to the class.

  • This course is based upon Life on Earth, a nature series consisting of 13 videotapes.

  • The series is narrated by Sir David Attenborough and produced by the BBC.

Biol 1309 life on earth1
BIOL 1309 Life on Earth

  • This course examines the diversity of life, focusing mainly on major groups of plants and animals.

  • The course is designed for non-science majors only.

  • Special note to science majors: this course will probably not transfer as science credit for you.

Pcm section
PCM Section

  • This section is designed as a distance learning course and requires the regular use of a computer.

  • PCM = Personal Computer with Modem

Life on earth preview
Life on Earth Preview

  • Attenborough takes us on a broad survey of the different types of plants and animals on our planet.

  • The photography is amazing. Some of the organisms were filmed for the first time in this series.

  • Attenborough is an excellent narrator. He is British, so be prepared for his accent.

Life on earth preview1
Life on Earth Preview

  • Common themes that occur throughout the series include:

    • Evolutionary relationships

    • Adaptive strategies that allow different organisms to live and thrive in certain areas.

    • Natural history: Where do different organisms live? How do they “earn their living”? What do they eat? Are there any unusual features? How do they reproduce?

    • Co-evolution

Distance learning
Distance Learning

  • If this is your first distance learning class, please go to the Distance Learning web site at to get more information about distance learning courses.

Distance learning1
Distance Learning

  • Distance learning means that students do not attend traditional lectures at specific campus locations.

  • Distance learning courses are designed to be taught through the use of videos, reading and activities (web-based or group discussion).

Distance learning2
Distance Learning

  • Distance learning does not mean that you are taking a class without deadlines.

  • There are exam deadlines that you will be expected to meet.

  • You will also be expected to participate in online discussion groups on a regular basis.

Distance learning3
Distance Learning

  • Additional lecture material will be posted on Blackboard and you will be expected to read this material.

  • You will be expected to participate in any web-based activities that are assigned.

Time commitments
Time Commitments

  • Distance learning courses provide opportunities for students to take classes in an alternate format.

  • However, the typical distance learning student spends more time studying than traditional students and works more independently to learn the materials.

Time commitments1
Time Commitments

  • It’s a great way to learn if you are self-motivated.

  • However, it does take more time and self-discipline.

  • You will need to manage your time wisely.


  • Before you go any farther with this orientation, you will need to print out a copy of the syllabus.

  • If you do not have a copy of the syllabus, you will find the syllabus on the Blackboard web page at (available on 9/24/07) or on my web page at


  • Read the syllabus carefully.

  • This presentation will only go over the materials that you need to get started in the course.

  • You will be responsible for understanding all information in the syllabus even if it is not covered in this presentation.

Getting your acceid
Getting Your ACCeID

  • You’ll need your ACCeID to access the Blackboard Course Management System.

  • To get your ACCeID, go to and follow the instructions.


  • As explained on page 1 of the syllabus, we will be using Blackboard extensively in this class for:

    (1) weekly online small discussion groups

    (2) supplemental course materials

    (3) for posting grades & announcements

    (4) sending e-mails

Blackboard login
Blackboard Login

  • The Blackboard login page is at:

  • If you have not used Blackboard before, click on the link “Student Guide – Getting Started with Blackboard”

  • If you have problems, use the link for “Blackboard Support Site”

Using blackboard
Using Blackboard

  • Update your personal information in Blackboard as soon as possible.

  • If you do not put your email address into Blackboard, I will not be able to email you.

  • Check Blackboard regularly throughout the semester.

Required course materials
Required Course Materials

  • Life on Earth: Concepts and Questions, 3rd edition by Speer, Maxim, Froehlich, Strong and Allen. This study guide is available at the ACC bookstores or you can print it from this web site:


  • Life on Earth video episodes (13 total). These are available for watching at the ACC libraries. A few copies are available for checking out (see syllabus p. 5).


  • ACC does not have the rights to show this series on cable.

  • You will have to view the videotapes in order to complete the course materials.

  • Videotapes are available in the ACC libraries and at Fredericksburg High School for viewing.


  • See page 5 of the syllabus.

  • There are a few checkout copies available for students to check out and take home.

  • Most students end up watching the videotapes in an ACC library.


  • Do not plan on being able to check out videotapes and take them home.

  • Exam deadlines will not be extended if you are unable to checkout the videotapes.

Are there other alternatives
Are there other alternatives?

  • There are no other alternatives available from ACC, due to our licensing agreement.

  • Students have found other alternatives in the past, although I personally do not know how well these work.

  • The following four slides are based solely on previous student comments. I cannot tell you if these alternatives will work for you or not.

Other alternatives
Other Alternatives?

  • The Life on Earth DVDs are still sold in Great Britain. Students have ordered the DVDs from Great Britain and paid for expedited shipping.

  • This is the link for

  • The DVDs are Region 2 (Great Britain), not Region 1 (USA).

Other alternatives1
Other Alternatives?

  • Students have told me that you can change the setting on your computer DVD player to read Region 2. (I have never done this.)

  • Apparently, you can only change the setting twice before you have to reinstall the software. This means that your DVD player will not be able to play USA DVDs until the semester is over.

Other alternatives2
Other Alternatives?

  • Region-free DVD players are also available for purchase for under $100.

  • Region-free DVD players are supposed to play any DVD, regardless of the region format.

Other alternatives3
Other Alternatives?

  • According to students, episodes 1-10 are currently available on the web at:

  • I know nothing about this site. I do know that web sites come and go. The site apparently does not have episodes 11-13.

  • This web site is not connected with ACC or this class in any fashion. This information is based solely on unverified student comments.

Online discussion groups
Online Discussion Groups

  • Read this section on page 4 of the syllabus.

  • You will be assigned to a small group discussion forum.

  • I will post a different set of questions at the beginning of each unit for the group to discuss.

Online discussion groups1
Online Discussion Groups

  • You can also use your group discussion forum to ask each other questions about the video episodes or any course material that you do not understand.

  • Questions will be posted for all 6 units.

  • The deadline for your posts to the group are the test deadlines on p. 9 of the syllabus.

Online discussion groups2
Online Discussion Groups

  • You will be graded on participation in your group.

  • You must make at least two posts per unit.

  • Your posts must be meaningful, applying to the unit concepts and organisms.

  • Your participation in the group will earn up to 20 points per unit.


  • See pages 5-9 in the syllabus.

  • All exams are given in the ACC testing centers.

  • Locations of ACC testing centers: Cypress Creek, Eastview, Fredericksburg, Northridge, Pinnacle, Rio Grande, Riverside, Round Rock Higher Education Center, San Marcos and South Austin.


  • There are six required exams in this course.

  • There are mandatory deadlines for each exam.


  • There are no retests but there is an optional final.

  • You cannot skip an exam and replace it with the final.

  • You must take all six required exams in order to receive any grade other than “F”.

Mandatory exam deadlines
Mandatory Exam Deadlines

  • Mandatory exam deadlines are on page 9 of the syllabus.

  • Please note that you have anautomatic24-hour grace period for exams.

  • You do not have to ask permission to use the grace period.

Mandatory exam deadlines1
Mandatory Exam Deadlines

  • Grace periods will not be extended for any reason.

  • There is no grace period for the final.

  • There are different deadlines for the final, based on which testing center you decide to use.

  • You may take the final at any testing center.

Check page 9 to see what each exam covers
Check page 9 to see what each exam covers.

  • The table on page 9 explains what each exam covers.

  • Exam 1, for example, covers the introduction and Unit 1.

  • Exam 1 will also cover any additional material posted on Blackboard and the material covered in the online discussion group.

Check page 9 to see the format for each exam
Check page 9 to see the format for each exam

  • The table also explains the format for each exam.

  • Exam 1, for example, has 48 multiple choice questions and one short answer question.

Review page 9 before taking an exam at the testing center
Review Page 9 before taking an exam at the Testing Center

  • Before taking an exam, check to make sure that you know which exam to ask for!

  • Don’t make the mistake of studying only episode 1 and then taking Exam 1.

  • You will only have studied part of the material that will be covered on that exam!

Optional final
Optional Final

  • See page 8 of the syllabus.

  • There is an optional comprehensive final that can be taken to replace your lowest (non-zero) exam grade.

  • The final cannot substitute for an exam that you did not take.

Optional final1
Optional Final

  • The final cannot hurt your grade in the course.

  • If it is your lowest exam grade, it will not count.

  • If higher, the final grade can be used to replace your lowest exam grade.

Extra credit
Extra Credit

  • See page 8 of the syllabus.

  • Each exam has three extra multiple choice questions for extra credit.

Extra credit1
Extra Credit

  • You can earn up to 36 points of extra credit on the exams.

  • This is the only way to earn extra credit in this course.

Course grades
Course Grades

  • See page 10 of the syllabus.

  • Your grade for the course will be based on:

    6 exams at 100 points each = 600 points

    Participation in your discussion

    group (6 units @ 20 pts) = 120 points

    Total points for course = 720 points

Course grades1
Course Grades

  • Course grades will be based on percentages:

  • A = 90-100%

  • B = 80- 89%

  • C = 70- 79%

  • D = 60- 69%

  • F = below 60%


  • Withdrawal policies are discussed on page 11 of the syllabus.

  • The last day to withdraw is November 26.


  • Please note that I withdraw students only for the following reasons:

    (1) A student does not complete the orientation materials by Wednesday midnight, October 3 and send an e-mail confirmation to me.

    (2) A student does not complete exams 1-4 by the mandatory deadlines.

Bloom s taxonomy
Bloom’s Taxonomy

  • See page 14 of the syllabus.

  • Bloom’s taxonomy is a model that tries to place mental thinking skills into categories. If you look over this page, you will see that “higher level thinking skills” fall into categories 2 through 6. Rote memorization (recall) is category 1 in this model.

Bloom s taxonomy1
Bloom’s Taxonomy

  • In this course, I write exam questions at levels 1-4.

  • In Blackboard (under Syllabus), you will find a specific example of how test questions can be written at different levels over the same material.

Testing center
Testing Center

  • See page 15-16 of the syllabus.

  • Look at the hours of operation for the different testing centers and the mandatory exam deadlines for the course (p. 9).

Choose your testing center
Choose Your Testing Center

  • Choose the testing center that you intend to use during the semester.

  • You may only choose one testing center to take exams 1-6.

  • Exams will be placed at your testing center of choice.

Testing center policies
Testing Center Policies

  • See pages 17-18.

  • The testing center has very strict rules about testing.

  • Please read their policies carefully.

  • If you are banned from the Testing Centers for violating their policies, you will have no way to take the exams.

Testing center policies1
Testing Center Policies

  • If you do not have an ACC ID, go to the nearest Admissions & Records Office (any campus) and get your ACC photo ID.

  • You will not be able to use the testing center without an ACC photo ID.

Testing center policies2
Testing Center Policies

  • Admission to any Testing Center is on a “first come, first serve” basis.

  • Please do not wait until the last minute to take an exam.

Read the syllabus carefully
Read the syllabus carefully.

  • All course policies are explained in the syllabus.

  • This presentation is just intended as an overview of the syllabus.

  • Please refer to the syllabus for complete details about the course and ACC policies.

  • If you have any questions about the syllabus or the course, please send me an e-mail at