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The Energy 101 Project is designed to permit more informed decision making related to energy. It builds on the energy literacy work of the Department of Energy and draws on 21st century education concepts related to analysis of facts, critical thinking, and solution design. Energy 101 products today include a model curricular design, Energy 101 college and community college curricula, lectures and other instructional materials, including a limited number of online learning modules. Work is currently being done on micro-credits, micro-credentialing, and the transferability of credit. A variety of other follow-on activities are also being considered.:: Original Concept:: Department of Energy Contribution:: National Science Foundation Contribution:: Possible Nationwide Energy 101 Course:: Math-Energy 101 Course for Returning Veterans:: Possible Interdisciplinary Community College CourseWith the help of EESI, APLU is building a community of those interested in energy literacy and energy education, particularly in terms of higher education. Please visit the DOE Energy 101 Project site and EESI’s Energy 101 page for further information. To keep informed of or participate in the APLU Energy 101 project, please email regarding your interest and questions to Energy101@APLU.org.
Michelle Fox, then the Chief Strategist for Education and Workforce Development, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, was asked by Secretary of Energy Chu in 2010 to take the lead on an energy literacy initiative for the Department of Energy which was added to the Department of Energy’s strategic plan. A significant product of that initiative was Energy Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts for Energy Education which presents energy concepts that, if understood and applied, would help individuals and communities make informed energy decisions. Many federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and numerous individuals contributed to the development through an extensive review and comment process. In the spring of 2011, Energy Literacy workshops including one at APLU with Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) involvement contributed substantially to the refinement of the guide. Energy Literacy identifies seven Essential Principles and a set of Fundamental Concepts to support each principle that could serve as the core of formal and informal energy education, standards development, curriculum design, assessment development, and educator trainings. Energy Literacy was published early in 2012. Michelle also was lead on the development of the National Training and Educational Resource (NTER), a platform originally developed for worker training in support of the weatherization component of the Obama stimulus program that is now used by a dozen other agencies as an educational platform.In Spring 2011, Michelle let APLU know that she was interested in the development of an Energy 101 Course based on Energy Literacy that would start out as an interdisciplinary undergraduate course taught at universities and community colleges that eventually would also become a high school AP Energy 101 course. Her dream, before MOOCs became popular, was to use NTER as a repository of Energy 101 teaching materials and as a means for Energy 101 teachers to share problems and best practices. On short notice, APLU was asked to bring together teachers from a variety of universities to get an idea of interest in the topic. Our May 25, 2011 Energy 101 Summit drew over three dozen universities and a representative of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). It featured Leigh Abts of University of Maryland who had at that point spent six years working with a broad public private partnership to explore the feasibility for an Introduction to Engineering Design AP curriculum and Indira Nair, retired Vice Provost from Carnegie Mellon University, who had a decade of experience with an Introduction to Environment 101 course that emphasized critical thinking and projects. We then began the lengthy process of getting pass-through funding from DOE through Oak Ridge Associated Universities to begin the course development project.
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From April 22, 2012 through August 2, 2013, Jim Turner with the assistance of Kari McCarron of APLU served as the principal investigator to Oak Ridge Associated Universities on a Department of Energy contract; with Leigh Abts of the University of Maryland and Ellen Vaughan of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) serving as co-PIs, and Stephanie Moore and Paxton Marshall of the University of Virginia (UVA) serving as consultants. The APLU team developed, with the assistance of a network of experts, a nationally recognized, interdisciplinary Energy 101 Curricular Framework that can be implemented by both 4-year and 2-year universities and colleges across the nation; the preparatory work included analyzing 16 other Energy 101 curricula in the context of Energy Literacy. Over the next several months, a number of drafts of the curriculum were circulated for review for suggested additions, deletions, and other improvements to professors and other professionals with expertise in the area; this outreach effort was coordinated by Environmental and Energy Study Institute and a number of major educational associations including AACC, AAU, AASCU, ASEE, and Second Nature assisted us in this effort. The final framework is divided into Energy Basics which introduces the scientific principles that govern energy, Energy Sources which introduces the students to the characteristics of the various types of energy. How Energy is Used which brings in technology and applications and Energy Policy and Decision-making which brings in social science, politics, environmental policy and a variety of other factors. The UVA consultants developed four on-line modules related to heat transfer as examples of what can be developed in other curricular areas and of the capabilities of NTER, DOE’s cloud based educational tool that allows for content creation and sharing. APLU joined DOE, the University of Maryland, and EESI in an April 10, 2013 "Energy 101" webinar featuring Energy Literacy, the model curriculum, the University of Maryland course, and the University of Virginia modules. An archive of the webinar is now available::: Energy 101 Webinar Presentation (PDF) :: Energy 101 Webinar Recording (Video)The final report for this contract describes the efforts in much greater detail.
We soon realized that we needed to develop a prototype course to demonstrate our approach to Energy 101. Idalis Villanueva, then of University of Maryland, and Leigh Abts with the advice of Indira Nair took on this responsibility. Idalis developed the syllabus for Designing a Sustainable World and Leigh developed the course philosophy, the teaching materials, and taught the course. The class was developed using 21st century educational principles and featured lectures and a flipped classroom where students were graded primarily on a design portfolio which applied the knowledge learned in the course. The goal from the beginning was to emphasize critical thinking and to give the students a mental roadmap as a basis for energy decision-making in their personal lives. The course received high marks from students, was featured by the University of Maryland on Earth Day, and was selected by the university as an example of its commitment to sustainability. The National Science Foundation provided much of the funding for course development, including versions to be taught this Fall by Tami Imbierowicz at Harford Community College and by Gail Wyant at Cecil Community College, both in Maryland. Transfer of credit from the community colleges to the University of Maryland has already been approved.
Such a course would have MOOC-like lectures and a flipped classroom. Individual institutions and departments would continue to offer the courses and the local instructors would be in charge of the ePortfolio, grading, supplemental information for students, and capstone projects are their local campuses. This would guarantee individualized instruction. We also envision if schools are interested, that students from more than one university could participate on the same project. Similarly, if related projects were carried out on multiple campuses data and results could be compared. We see two sources of participating schools in addition to those who have already be active in Energy 101. Second Nature, as part of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Challenge, requires signatories to teach sustainability to its signatories. APLU and Second Nature have had a series of conversations about allowing signatory schools, 93 of which are APLU members, to count participation in a widely available Energy 101 course towards fulfillment of the pledge. AIHEC has had a small grant which was aimed at creating a sustainability course for tribal colleges which was not enough to fulfill the dream. AIHEC feels that Energy 101 is a possible route towards continuing and is considering partnering with us as well.
The interdisciplinary nature of Energy 101 and its focus on portfolios allow for emphasis of different skill-sets and competencies, including adapting our original Energy 101 curriculum. University of Maryland and secondary school collaborators are in the process of developing a blended Math/Energy 101 course designed to strengthen veterans’ mathematics skills and engineering design competencies through real-world applications to energy and sustainability problems. Students who pass the course will receive (1) skill certificates demonstrating abilities in mathematical and engineering design principles, and (2) four university credits from the University of Maryland. This blended course would be taught online and would utilize: 1) explicit instruction through a library of video-taped lectures blending mathematics, engineering and design concepts; 2) stimulating online narratives/simulations; 3) individual / group problem-based scenarios; 4) an end of course, mentored design project; and 5) a range of formative and summative assessment strategies, including pre and post-course skills tests, and an e-portfolio. Through this course, veterans will gain foundational skills to pursue vocational careers (e.g., Electric Transmission and Distribution, Heat Ventilation and Air Conditioning) or continue towards an undergraduate degree.
The concept of an interdisciplinary Energy 101 course takes on a different meaning at community colleges if the technical training and academic sides of the institutions are both considered. For instance, we would be interested in looking at the requirements for certification in the various building trades specialties and for the specialties involved in selling, appraising, financing, inspecting, and maintaining buildings to figure out subject matter commonalities in these programs and the extent they overlap with a Energy 101 model curriculum focused on sustainability. We are especially interested in workforce requirements related to high performance and near net zero energy buildings and what is required to retrain existing workforces for the sustainable era that of necessity will be upon us in the near future. We feel it is important for all involved with these buildings to have a basic understanding of sustainability and we assume that micro-credentialing could be used for existing employees to get upgraded skills, for veterans to get credit for what they know before entering training programs, and for individual qualified in one specialty to qualify in another without starting over again from scratch. We have relations with most of the trade organizations and unions currently involved in these certifications.
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