Since developing and implementing these courses at the University of North Carolina (UNC) beginning in 2009, introductory astronomy enrollments have increased by over 100% and astronomy-track majors and minors have increased by approximately 300%. Now one in four UNC undergraduates take at least one of our introductory astronomy courses. Other institutions have begun to offer our courses as well.
For institutions that want to implement our Astronomy with Skynet: Our Place In Space! lab course, UNC is offering access to Skynet and enough time on its telescopes in Chile, Australia, and elsewhere for students to complete the assignments — for free. In exchange, UNC will build your participation into their grant proposals to the National Science Foundation and NASA, which help to fund Skynet. Recently, these grants have additionally provided participating institutions with implementation funding, including summer salary for instructors to learn the curriculum and report on its effectiveness, including its effectiveness in producing STEM majors.
These grants have similarly funded implementation of our Astronomy 101: The Solar System and Astronomy 102: Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology courses at participating institutions, the materials for which we have designed to work in traditional-, hybrid-, and flipped-format classrooms alike.
If you are interested in offering Skynet University courses, or components of them, at your institution, please watch this talk by Skynet Director Dan Reichart, which overviews Skynet/Afterglow, and Skynet University’s courses (as of 2012). For additional information, including upcoming grant opportunities, please email us at introastro at unc dot edu.