New From the AMS Education Program: Dynamic Ebooks That Add Excitement to Your Online and Blended Courses

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Look no further than the AMS for brand new, innovative ebooks that engage students with dynamic content.


Jim Brey is the Director of the Education Program of the American Meteorological Society since May, 2008. Prior to that, he was a Professor of Geography and Geology at the University of Wisconsin Fox Valley. He has been active in delivering AMS K-12 DataStreme courses to teachers in Wisconsin and a leader in the development and offering of the AMS Weather Studies and Ocean Studies undergraduate courses. He contributed to the development of AMS Weather Studies and DataStreme Water in the Earth System. He participated in the ORION conferences focusing on ocean education issues and served on the IOOS Key Messages and Themes Committee. He considers himself to be a broad field earth system scientist and geographer. Brey is considered an expert in progressive educational delivery methods and the latest in pedagogical and technical innovation. He also is committed to further development of the AMS Education Program's workshops for faculty of minority serving institutions. His research interests include new education and training approaches, work force development in STEM fields, effects of climatological hazards on subtropical agricultural production systems and the use of Geographical Information Systems in hazard mitigation, telecommunications and agriculture. Brey obtained his Bachelors, Masters and Ph.D. degrees in geography from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Extended Abstract

Since 1996, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) has been developing online educational materials, both for K-12 teacher professional development as well as for undergraduate courses.

Recently, AMS transitioned from printed textbooks to ebooks in order to lower costs, increase versatility, and be more environmentally friendly. AMS textbooks are now designed specifically for a digital format and include innovative, dynamic features that bring the ebooks to life and encourage additional exploration of various concepts.

A special feature of AMS ebooks is "Topics in Depth." These are found in every chapter and allow the instructor and students to engage a topic that may serve as a jumping off point from the narrative, allowing students and instructors to explore concepts or new research that might be a bit more advanced. Many times these Topics in Depth allow for entirely new concepts to be introduced or new databases to be explored by the reader. Instructors may choose to assign these special topics as required reading but they are not necessarily meant to be essential to the chapter content. What is important from an ebook perspective is that these topics can be expanded by a touch or click by the student. Since they open only if the user wishes, they do not distract from the flow of the chapter. Sometimes, included within are links to external websites with further discussion. Topics in depth are perfect jumping off points for online group discussion.

AMS ebooks also include a hyperlinked table of contents, searchable content, and web resources and original literature on which the chapter is based. These links related to chapter content are featured at the end of each chapter. Students can take digital notes, adjust the background color and text size, listen to the ebook, highlight topics, and bookmark specific pages. Additionally, AMS ebooks are compatible with a variety of devices, including desktop and laptop computers, a wide variety of tablets and most phones.

AMS' newest ebook is the sixth edition Weather Studies: Introduction to Atmospheric Science with updated science content, case studies, and figures. It is used as the textbook component in the AMS Weather Studies course.

Released in August 2014, Our Changing Climate is a 15-chapter ebook that explores Earth's climate system and humans' impact on it along with actions needed in response to climate change. Released in fall 2015, Living With Our Changing Climate takes a more narrow approach to climate science and investigates human and ecosystem vulnerabilities to climate change, the role of energy choices in affecting climate, actions humans can take through adaption, mitigation, and policy to lessen vulnerabilities, and psychological and financial reasons behind climate change denial. While Living With Our Changing Climate is intended for programs looking to add a climate element into their curriculum, Our Changing Climate is part of the AMS Climate Studies course.

The fourth edition of Ocean Studies: Introduction to Oceanography, the textbook used in AMS Ocean Studies, is currently being revised and transitioned into an ebook.

Students seem to approve of the AMS' transition to an electronic platform. In a 2015 survey of California University of Pennsylvania undergraduate students using Our Changing Climate, 82% found it comfortable to read and utilized its interactive components and resources.

In addition to the previously mentioned ebooks, AMS courses consist of an e-investigations manual, a course website (known as the portal), faculty website, and faculty resource materials. All materials are compatible with most course management systems and test, quiz and investigation questions can be easily loaded into the quiz function for auto scoring. Instructors can use these materials in any combination.

Updated yearly, the investigations manual contains 30 laboratory activities, two per textbook chapter, and innovatively connects with an optional third component, Current Weather/Ocean/Climate Studies, via the portal. These online investigations reference data from the NWS, reports from the IPCC, and contain real-world data from other lead scientific organizations. The portal is an all-inclusive webpage that provides links to numerous external sources that further engage students.

The audience will be engaged in this presentation by being asked questions about their experiences using ebooks. What were the strengths and weaknesses of such an approach? Are students able to adapt to using an ebook? Excerpts of AMS coursework, showcasing our innovative ebooks, will also be presented.