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MET honored for excellence in online education

Biology of Food course filmed in professor’s kitchen

Sam Hammer

Metropolitan College has won a bronze award for excellence in programming from the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) for its online undergraduate course Food Stuff: A Taste of Biology.

The class is part of MET’s online executive undergraduate completion degree program. It explores biological principles in the context of food. Sam Hammer, an associate professor in the College of General Studies division of natural science, filmed all the course segments in his kitchen, demonstrating with various food products, with a focus on biodiversity, evolution, biochemistry, symbioses, and humans in the biosphere. (To watch a video segment introducing the course, click here.) about the world of food by learning about biological interactions and relationships.

“It’s biology. Everybody hates it. We need to make this stuff palatable. What better way than food?” asks Hammer, who has taught biology at CGS for 13 years. “The exciting part is that we kind of pushed the envelope on how interactive a course can be.” This was Hammer’s first online course, and he’s now developing another in earth science, which, he says, employs “a lot of cool pictures from NASA.”

CGS professors have developed 8 of the 16 executive undergraduate completion program coures. “They came to us because, as a rule, since we’re interdisciplinary and teach nonmajor learners,” Hammer says, “we tend to think outside of the box.”

“Sam Hammer’s course was really fun for us to do,” says Susan Kryczka, director of the Division of Extended Education’s distance education office. “Sam’s personality, expertise, and love for the subject came out throughout the course. Student evaluations were excellent for this course.”

Developing an online class with diagrams, moving arrows, and video clips, Hammer adds, was quite a departure from the typical “professor from the waist up talking,” and included many technical demands. Kryczka says that those demands are incorporated in the process from the beginning.

“We work closely with the faculty during the instructional design process to be sure that we execute their course vision in this new and exciting environment,” she says. “We look forward to submitting more courses for awards in the future. We want to establish Boston University as the leader in quality online programs.”

MET offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, diploma and certificate programs, and individual courses for the student who needs a more creative setting, whether part-time study, evening classes, or convenient locations.