Super-Earths And Life is a course about life on Earth, alien life, how we search for life outside of Earth, and what this teaches us about our place in the universe.
In the past decade astronomers have made incredible advances in the discovery of planets outside our solar system. Thirty years ago, we knew only of the planets in our own solar system. Now we know of thousands circling nearby stars.
Meanwhile, biologists have gained a strong understanding of how life evolved on our own planet, all the way back to the earliest cells. We can describe how simple molecules can assemble themselves into the building blocks of life, and how those building blocks might have become the cells that make up our bodies today.
Super-Earths And Life is all about how these fields, astronomy and biology, together with geology, can help answer one of our most powerful and primal questions: are we alone in the universe?
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This course consists of seven modules, which investigate questions like:
What is life? How did it arise? How does it change over time?
What is a planet?
How do we find and learn about planets outside our solar system?
How has the Earth changed over time? What do these changes mean for the evolution and survival of living things?
How do geological processes shape planets? How do these processes contribute to life?
completed this course and found the course difficulty to be easy.
I have been a community TA for this course, but I'll try not to be biased. This course is a nice introduction to astrobiology and life itself - so if you have no scientific background, you'll still be able to get by. The forums were bursting with discussions, so I believe everybody could have find the way to be successful in this course, no matter the background. This course was much more text-oriented rather than video oriented, so this is its major flaw. The texts were great and informative, with lots of interactive visualizations, but e-courses tend to focus on videos as lectures which enga…
I have been a community TA for this course, but I'll try not to be biased. This course is a nice introduction to astrobiology and life itself - so if you have no scientific background, you'll still be able to get by. The forums were bursting with discussions, so I believe everybody could have find the way to be successful in this course, no matter the background. This course was much more text-oriented rather than video oriented, so this is its major flaw. The texts were great and informative, with lots of interactive visualizations, but e-courses tend to focus on videos as lectures which engage you in a way you feel as if you're taking a real course. Otherwise, everyone could just read a textbook on astrobiology. So, I recommend the staff for the next iterations to try to record the texts into smaller lectures - it will be easier to follow for students, and for those that want to go in more detail, there would be texts. Although, there were amazing interview videos with important scientists, so this is a plus. The major plus is the involvement of the instructors in the forums, which is not that often, so kudos.
completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
The first offering of the 'Super-Earths and Life' course was pretty good. Although the course doesn't have many video lectures and relies primarily on text and animations for teaching, an interested student will find the content to be good and informative.
Colin Fredricks, one of the instructors of this course, was really helpful and active on the forums. The quiz questions are good and even when they were easy, they forced me to think outside the box and informed me about stuff that I didn't know before. Overall, this is a good introductory course that teaches Astrobiology and Astronomy in a broad perspective.