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What has stargazing, galaxies and online gaming? Intro to Astronomy!

One of Concordia’s coolest e-courses just got even better
April 26, 2018
By J. Latimer

Gabriel Rosenbaum:  “Astronomy is so beautiful. It’s well-suited to the online environment.” | Photo by Jorge B (500px Creative Commons) “Astronomy is so beautiful. It’s well-suited to the online environment.” | Photo by Jorge B (500px CC)

Spoiler alert! Introduction to Astronomy (PHYS 284) looks way more like Avatar than PowerPoint. 

This online course, offered to all undergraduate students in fall 2018 by Concordia’s Department of Physics, has impressive and immersive graphics that enhance the learning experience, incorporating gameplay, CGI, 2D and 3D animation.

“Astronomy is so beautiful,” says Gabriel Rosenbaum, the part-time physics professor who taught the course last fall.

“As a subject, it’s well-suited to the online environment. Topics like the solar system, the galaxy, stellar luminosity — they’re visualized using 3D models and seamlessly integrated multimedia. It’s stunning.”

A rich, online learning environment

Rosenbaum is quick to credit the course’s author, Mario D’Amico, also a part-time professor of physics in the Faculty of Arts and Science, for providing an alternative way for students to digest what is sometimes an intimidating subject.

“Mario put together all of the material,” Rosenbaum says. “He worked very closely with a team of curriculum experts at eConcordia, designers and tech experts at Concordia’s KnowledgeOne to make the final product that the students see today.” 

Introduction to Astronomy was built from the ground up, with over 90 per cent new, freshly developed, media-intensive and interactive web content. The result is a rich online learning environment that does not involve intense mathematics.

“But students still learn the science,” Rosenbaum says. “I love that people without formal science and math training will be able to benefit.”

Introduction to Astronomy was built from the ground up, with over 90 per cent new, freshly developed, media-intensive and interactive web content. Introduction to Astronomy has freshly developed, media-intensive and interactive web content.

Who wants to play astronaut?

The course material includes an (optional) interactive game with lush planets, a rousing soundtrack and aliens that would make Hollywood envious.

In the game, students journey through a fantasy universe, collecting badges for fuel cells. The goal is to find alternative planets that support life because earth depleted its sources of water, air and energy.

“Gamification is a dynamic way to motivate students and bring the course content alive,” says Robert Beauchemin, CEO of Concordia’s KnowledgeOne, the university’s exclusive provider of online course content.

“There’s a competitive aspect to the gameplay, too, because everyone can see the leading astronauts on a virtual score board. That gets the gamers playing early.”

The deadline to join the course is September 18, 2018.

“There’s a high demand for this particular course says Alexandre Champagne, chair of the Department of Physics in the Faculty of Arts and Science. “It offers very high-quality pedagogical content, it allows students to learn efficiently and it’s fun.”


Register online for Introduction to Astronomy (PHYS 284) through the MyConcordia portal. Check out other online courses at eConcordia, including the award-winning Tolkien's Old English (ENGL 306).



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