Polly Bass


I am a physical geographer by training. I research periglacial and high latitude vegetation and environments, Quaternary geomorphology, and climate change. I enjoy introducing students to field techniques and landscape interpretation. One of my goals during the Technology Fellowship is to explore and find means of effectively communicating and advising students in these subjects via distance delivery.

Academic Research, Distance delivery of science laboratories, Field investigations, Audio and video capture in field and remote settings


Effective distance delivered field and lab based science courses


My tolerance of computer related problems is limited, …but growing. I believe in KISS…keeping the delivery and technology simple to focus on course and subject content.


The Sloan workshops have given me a new perspective on distance delivery. I realize that although distance delivery is different from face to face delivery, it does not have to be different in ways that result in students and faculty viewing it as less effective.   Distance delivery allows for opportunities and interactions that do not take place in a traditional face to face setting. These opportunities and the diversity of students collaborating over significant geographical extents, lend themselves to creative learning experiences.

Reflection (Yr 2)

Interacting with the tech fellows class, the instructional designers and our faculty mentors has been enriching. Thank you. In the coming year we will have opportunity to share some of what we have learned with the incoming class. As we know, it is in teaching that we most completely come to understand.

Updates after 1 year in Spring 2013 to Spring 2014

Goals in Spring 2013

Reasons for moving this course online.

How does redesigning this course fit within your larger departmental/college goals.

Why do you want to be a UAA Tech Fellow?

LSIS 202 is a course in the Liberal Studies Integrated Science Sequence which serves the needs of education majors who aspire to work in the Alaska K-12 school system. LSIS 202 is the Chemistry and Physics based component of the three course sequence which includes LSIS 102 (earth science focus), 201 (life science focus), and 202 (physical science focus). There is a demonstrated need for this course to be offered online. Students have requested the course and have been unable to attend the traditionally offered course during the designated time periods on the UA System campuses. A portion of this course is already distance delivered and the students in the program are distance course literate.

The UAA Matanuska Susitna College is growing in size and serves a large sector of the South Central Alaska population. However, the population served by the wealth of resources on our campus could be much greater. The ability to effectively deliver science courses and laboratories in a distance delivered format is particularly challenging. The UA system has demonstrated that these courses can be successfully delivered via distance.

We have the resources needed to make this opportunity available the students who desire it, whether they live nearby, in the Bush or in Florida. We can help students make their dreams a reality by giving them access to the education and preparation required for the career of their choice.

The opportunity to improve my technological skills and my ability to dynamically deliver course material via distance methods will allow me to serve many students who could not otherwise be reached in the traditional classroom setting. I would like to learn to utilize the available technologies and methodologies to improve the educational process and its availability to the people of Alaska.

Progress as of Spring 2014

The course to be moved online has been adjusted due to an organizational change that will most likely result in the originally proposed  course’s discontinuation.


The course to be taken online at present is Environmental Science 211. It is a course that in many ways will lend itself well to the distance delivery.  


This course received the Café information literacy award. Consequently, the course has been redesigned with a series of assignments which emphasize  information literacy in the environmental sciences.

Taking Environmental Science 211 online is in alignment with the larger Department and University goal of making education available and accessible to all Alaskans in a quality format. The lab course that accompanies Environmental Science 211 may also be taken online. This lab course has many attributes which make it a dynamic platform for bringing students together to form an online learning community. In particular, the emphasis on local Alaskan and Artic environmental issues will allow for dynamic interaction and insight from students living across the state and/or country.


This semester I am teaching face to face courses in Environmental Science 211, Environmental Science 211 Laboratory, and LSIS 201, a hybrid course for future life science educators. In these courses I am working toward utilizing Blackboard and web technology more intensely in order to have the courses ready to easily move online.

In the last year I have become familiar with and proficient in several distance delivery interfaces. I am more readily utilizing the resources and tools provided by Blackboard, including videos, blogs, the grade center, modules,

course content weekly folders and weekly assignment folders, among others.  There are many technologies I would still like to integrate into my course designs.

Currently I am taking the Sloan Certificate intensive course. This community of learners is introducing me to many ideas and concepts.

Most recently we have discussed increasing instructor presence, developing effective activities to meet course objectives and developing rubrics to effectively evaluate student success and provide feedback to students.


At UAA MatSu College, the distance education committee has been exploring means of maintaining high caliber teaching, academic rigor, and student involvement while moving   courses online. Concerns over lack of quality and rigor in distance delivery have prompted development of a quality control System of standards.

Currently a pilot project called “E Dragons’ is underway. It is an online  course that allows future distance instructors on the MatSu campus to explore course design, and technology tools, among other topics.




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