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Project #67

A coherent set of ten fully online courses at multiple levels that meet university, general education, and departmental requirements

The purpose of the Coherent Set of Ten Fully Online Courses Project was to create ten fully on-line courses to enable undergraduate students to have more flexibility (decreasing time to degree), while helping Environmental Science & Management faculty optimize work assignments to match research needs.


  • Offered the following courses online: ESM 101, ESM 101 lab, ESM 102, ESM 102 lab, ESM 335, ESM 340, UNST 224, ESM 355U, SYSC 399U, USP 313U
  • Courses are fully online
  • Students are able to finish lab requirements for BS degree as a result of this project


The three main objectives for the project were: 1) To offer courses to students in a more flexible manner for the Sustainability SINQ and Cluster courses, 2) Offer several core courses on-line to ensure that students would be able to take these courses as pre-requisites to 400-level courses, and 3) Uncouple teaching workload from the clock. We met these individual objectives and, in the process, built a stronger sense of what we could do as a department.  

One major impact of the project’s success is that is seems our department talks more about learning outcomes and scaffolding of these into a curriculum without the constraint of fitting those outcomes into particular courses. For example, ESM used to be a small department that only offered a limited number of courses and we relied on other departments for key courses. We were severely constrained by the number and timing of our courses offerings. The combination of growing to a medium-sized department AND a significant on-line portfolio has released that constraint. In particular, we can now expect that students will have had all the pre-requisites for upper-division courses. Our department curriculum discussions are now about learning outcomes, student deliverables and how we can best help them learn. 

As part of this project we tested a new model of course development and teaching in ESM 355. This course was constructed by the collaboration of a student, faculty and the Office of Academic Innovation (OAI) and then another faculty taught it. This is a change from model in which individual faculty constructed and taught their courses on their own. ESM 355 was very successful and we are planning to use this same course development model to create more courses.

Creating digital assets for our core courses has served both the on-line and face-to-face courses.  We feel this could be extended to changing the way we view the curriculum from a linear sequence of courses that are “checked off” to a recursive network of concepts and skills that the students keep coming back to and building on. We are working on a visual representation of their progress and confidence (progress and confidence exercise = PACE)  that helps students understand where they are in the curriculum and which learning objectives they should have mastered and which they will see again at increasingly difficult levels. 


For more information, please see the project End-of-Project Report and Final Expenditure Report.


  • John Rueter - Professor, Environmental Science & Management, Liberal Arts & Sciences


  • Yangdong Pan - Chair, Environmental Science & Management, CLAS
  • Johannes De Gruyter - Executive Director, Office of Academic Innovation
  • Max Nielsen-Pincus - Assistant Professor, Environmental Science & Management, CLAS
  • Amy Larson - Associate, Environmental Science & Management, CLAS
  • Barry Messer - Associate Professor, Urban Studies & Planning, CUPA
  • Catherine de Rivera - Associate Professor, Environmental Science & Management, CLAS
  • Dick Dewey - Environmental Science & Management, CLAS
  • Elise Granek - Associate Professor, Environmental Science & Management, CLAS
  • Jeffrey Gerwing - Associate Professor, Environmental Science & Management, CLAS
  • Jeremy Parra - Environmental Science & Management, CLAS
  • Jocelyn Mueller - Environmental Science & Management, CLAS
  • Wayne Wakeland - Associate Professor, Systems Science
  • Sidney Gonsalves - Graduate Teaching Assistant
  • Molly Griffith - Instructional Design, Office of Academic Innovation



Project Management Plan

Project Plan

Status Reports

Sustainability Plan

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

Original Proposal