Global Online Academy

Punahou School is a founding member of the Global Online Academy (GOA). Established in 2011, GOA offers diverse and rigorous credit-bearing courses to students in member schools around the world. All GOA courses have synchronous components (when students collaborate together or work with their teacher at a set time, generally using video conferencing software) and asynchronous components (students choose when to participate.)

GOA students participate in a truly global classroom, learning alongside peers with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Courses are designed, developed and taught by teachers from member schools and meet the rigor and high quality for which these schools are well-known. Credit is awarded by Punahou for participating Punahou students.

This course listing for 2017 –2018 is current as of December 15, 2016. 

Important Information

Course Credit

GOA courses are equivalent to an honors or AP course in amount of work and time necessary to complete the course. The 2016 – 2017 courses offer elective credit at Punahou. Semester courses earn one-half credit and year courses earn one credit.

Academic Calendar

The GOA semester calendar start and end dates are different from those at Punahou. The fall semester begins August 31, 2016 and ends December 16, 2016. The spring semester runs from January 18 – May 5, 2017.

Student Qualifications

Preference for these courses is given to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated serious academic intent and earned good personal development ratings (1s and 2s). Students considering these online courses should be intrinsically motivated and know how to effectively manage their time.

Enrollment

Class size is limited to 18 students drawn from participating schools, so enrollment of Punahou students is limited. Punahou students may enroll in only one GOA course per semester and selection may be by lottery if necessary. Students may register for GOA courses during their programming conference with the Dean. Enrollment in any GOA course is subject to Deans’ approval.

Tuition

Tuition for GOA courses will be covered within Punahou’s tuition.

Course Offerings

Year-Long Courses

 

Arabic Language through Culture I

This full-year course highlights Modern Standard Arabic and some of the spoken dialect of the Levant. With an emphasis on Arabic culture, students learn commonly used expressions and phrases from the Levant area. Students develop their skills in listening, reading, writing, forming grammatically correct structured sentences, and most importantly, conversation. This is accomplished through podcasts, videos, culture circles discussions, web conferencing and collaborations in group projects. In addition, students have direct conversations with native speakers of Arabic, through a virtual club called “Shu Fe Maa Fe”, where students are required to meet online every week with their assigned partner and learn about a certain cultural topic every week, such as traditional food, greetings, gestures, values, history and more. Since Arabic is becoming one of the most functional languages in the world, especially in the areas of commerce, business and trade, students participating in this course can avail themselves of the opportunity to learn the language in a highly stimulating and rich cultural context.

This course is appropriate for beginning-level students.

Arabic Language through Culture II

This full-year course continues the work of Arabic I, highlighting Modern Standard Arabic and the spoken dialect of the Levant. With an emphasis on Arabic culture, students expand their knowledge of expressions and phrases from the Levant area. In addition, students’ experience with Arabic allows them to become more active collaborators in the design of the course, including pursuing cultural topics of their own interest, seeking real-world practice and applications of the language, and connecting their peers to resources and new learning. As in the first course, students develop their skills in listening, reading, writing, forming grammatically correct structured sentences, and most importantly, conversation. This is accomplished through podcasts, videos, culture circles discussions, web conferencing and collaborations in group projects. The focus of this course is 60 percent on language and 40 percent on culture.

This course is appropriate for beginner-level students. Prerequisite: Arabic Language through Culture I or permission from the instructor.

Japanese Language through Culture I

This full-year course is a unique combination of Japanese culture and language, weaving cultural comparison with the study of basic Japanese language and grammar. While examining various cultural topics such as literature, art, lifestyle and economy, students learn the basics of the Japanese writing system (Hiragana and Katakana), grammar and vocabulary. Through varied synchronous and asynchronous assignments, including hands-on projects and face-to-face communications, students develop their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. The cultural study and discussion are conducted in English, with topics alternating every two to three weeks. The ultimate goal of this course is to raise awareness and appreciation of different cultures through learning the basics of the Japanese language. The focus of this course is 60 percent on language and 40 percent on culture.

This course is appropriate for beginning-level students.

Japanese Language through Culture II

Through language learning, students in this course share their voices, cultivate global perspectives and foster appreciation of self and others. Students expand their knowledge of the basic skills introduced in Japanese Language through Culture I while further developing their speaking, listening, writing and reading skills. Each unit follows the IPA model (Integrated Performance Assessment), blending three modes of communication: interpretation of authentic material in Japanese, synchronous and asynchronous practice in speaking and writing, and oral and written presentations. Each unit focuses on one of the following cultural topics: design and expression, ecology, entertainment, East meets West, harmony and nature. In addition, students have the opportunity to select and pursue topics of their own interest. Grammar topics cover the essential forms that are typically introduced in the second and third year of a high school Japanese program. By learning the dictionary form, nominalizer, TE form, TA form, NAI form and noun modifier, students are able to add more complexity to their sentence construction. In doing so, they shift from forming simple sentences to communicating in a coherent paragraph. As online learners, students are expected to exhibit superb time management and communication skills, as well as to take ownership of their learning. While grammar instruction is delivered through asynchronous work and face-to-face meetings, much of the course content is curated and created by students through their research and collaboration.

Prerequisite: Japanese Language through Culture I or permission from the instructor.

Multivariable Calculus

In this course students learn to differentiate and integrate functions of several variables. We extend the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus to multiple dimensions, and the course will culminate in Green's, Stokes' and Gauss' Theorems. We begin with a swift review of vectors, matrices, and parametric curves, with emphasis on those topics which are of value to multivariate calculus. We then move on to study partial derivatives, double and triple integrals, and vector calculus in both two and three dimensions. Students are expected to develop fluency with vector and matrix operations. Understanding of a parametric curve as a trajectory described by a position vector is an essential concept, and this allows us to break free from 1-dimensional calculus and investigate paths, velocities, and other applications of science that exist in three-dimensional space. We study derivatives in multiple dimensions, we use the ideas of the gradient and partial derivatives to explore optimization problems with multiple variables, and we consider constrained optimization problems using Lagrangians. After our study of differentials in multiple dimensions, we move to integral calculus. We use line and surface integrals to calculate physical quantities especially relevant to mechanics and electricity and magnetism, such as work and flux, and we employ volume integrals for calculations of mass and moments of inertia. We conclude with the major theorems (Green's, Stokes', Gauss') of the course, applying each to some physical applications that commonly appear in calculus-based physics. Pre-requisite: The equivalent of a college year of single-variable calculus, including integration techniques, such as trigonometric substitution, integration by parts, and partial fractions. Completion of the AP Calculus BC curriculum with a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Exam would be considered adequate preparation.

Fall Semester Courses

 

Advanced Topics in Economics

What is the economic impact of professional sports teams on their local community? How does pollution in China affect vineyards in Italy? Why did the US financial market collapse in 2008 and how can we use this experience to predict our next global business cycle? In this course, students choose current events to explore through an economic lens. By building upon the principles discussed in microeconomics and macroeconomics, students analyze how the presence of scarcity affects the behaviors of individuals, businesses, and governments. This course reiterates the rational expectations of the principles courses while also introducing irrational behaviors to provide students a better look at their local economy. With guidance from the instructor, students choose topics related to the stock market, environment, entertainment industry, politics and more. Students research and analyze their economic issue and use their findings to formulate a solution to the problem. Through this course students will build upon their understanding of economic principles and their application. Student work will include the synthesis of data, analytical writing; peer collaboration; and a defense of their findings to a committee.

Prerequisite: Completion of an introductory courses in microeconomics OR macroeconomics (at GOA or elsewhere).

Applying Philosophy to Modern Global Issues

This is an applied philosophy course that connects pressing contemporary issues with broad-range philosophical ideas and controversies, drawn from multiple traditions and many centuries. Students use ideas from influential philosophers to examine how thinkers have applied reason successfully, and unsuccessfully, to many social and political issues across the world. In addition to introducing students to the work of philosophers as diverse as Confucius, Kant, John Rawls and Michel Foucault, this course also aims to be richly interdisciplinary, incorporating models and methods from diverse fields including history, journalism, literary criticism, and media studies. Students learn to develop their own philosophy and then apply it to the ideological debates which surround efforts to improve their local and global communities.

Bioethics

Ethics is the study of what one should do as an individual and as a member of society. In this course students evaluate ethical issues related to medicine and the life sciences. During the semester, students explore real-life ethical issues, including vaccination policies, organ transplantation, genetic testing, human experimentation, and animal research. Through reading, writing, and discussion, students learn basic concepts and skills in the field of bioethics, deepen their understanding of biological concepts, strengthen their critical-reasoning skills, and learn to engage in respectful dialogue with people whose views may differ from their own. In addition to journal articles and position papers, students will be required to read Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Citizen Artist’s Studio: From Making to Action

In this course, each student is an artist who utilizes the world of apps, memes, gifs, loops, views, posts, subs, and tweets to build an understanding of how digital art attracts audiences, affects social media platforms, sparks political activism, and transforms wherever you are into a production studio. The first half of the course is dedicated to tinkering with a plethora of software choices and media for self-expression: websites like YouTube, Giphy, Twine, and Pixlr; apps like Sketch, Paper 53, ProCreate, Boomerang, Aurasma, Prisma, Pic Collage, and Meme Generator; and social media classroom accounts on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Throughout, we’ll explore how art can aid in seeking unity, defending or defying norms, responding to opposing views, and envisioning better worlds. In the second half of the course, students use the Design Thinking model to identify a need in their community and fulfill the role of the citizen artist by addressing it through use of digital tools. Curricular content includes study of the effects of digital art on current events, lessons and tutorials on artistic techniques, and a history of citizen artwork both on and offline. Throughout the course, students engage in discussion and critique with each other, with students from other GOA classes, with their community contacts, and with professionals invited as guests of the course.
Prerequisites: Students should have daily access to a tablet or smartphone with reliable internet access.

Computer Programming I: Computational Thinking

This course (or its equivalent) is a prerequisite to all Computer Science II classes at GOA. Computational thinking centers on solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior. It has applications not only in computer science, but also myriad other fields of study. This introductory level course focuses on thinking like a computer scientist, especially understanding how computer scientists define and solve problems. Students begin the course by developing an understanding of what computer science is, how it can be used by people who are not programmers, and why it’s a useful skill for all people to cultivate. Within this context, students are exposed to the power and limits of computational thinking. Students are introduced to entry level programming constructs that will help them apply their knowledge of computational thinking in practical ways. They will learn how to read code and pseudocode as well as begin to develop strategies for debugging programs. By developing computational thinking and programming skills, students will have the core knowledge to define and solve problems in future computer science courses. While this course would be beneficial for any student without formal training as a programmer or computer scientist, it is intended for those with no programming experience.

Creative Nonfiction

This course focuses on shaping real experiences into powerful narratives. Students learn how to identify the genre of creative nonfiction both through the examination of professional examples of this genre and their own work of creative nonfiction. Students learn how to write in the genre of creative nonfiction both by exploring great stories in their lives and in the world around them and by effectively and respectfully writing about other people and their experiences. Feedback is an essential component of this course, and students will gain experience in the workshop model, learning how to effectively critique and discuss one another's writing in a digital environment. In addition, students have the opportunity to use technology to transform written work into audio experiences.

Digital Journalism

In a time when anyone and everyone has the right to write and the ability to publish, what does it mean to be a journalist? Students in this course learn fundamentals of reporting and shaping stories in text and multimedia; they learn to implement standards for copyright and fair use; and they learn to recognize excellence and bias in journalism from professional and amateur sources. In addition, students will skills in media literacy, becoming informed and thoughtful consumers of news in an increasingly rich but fragmented information landscape. This introductory course is intended for students with little to no experience with the craft of journalism. Experienced student journalists are encouraged to take Creative Nonfiction, which focuses on longer form work.

Digital Photography

In an era where everyone has become a photographer obsessed with documenting most aspects of life, we swim in a sea of images, whether posted on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, or another digital medium. Yet what does taking a powerful and persuasive photo with a 35mm digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera require? Digital photography explores this question in a variety of ways, beginning with the technical aspects of using and taking advantage of a powerful camera then moving to a host of creative questions and opportunities. Technical topics such as aperture, shutter, white balance, and resolution get ample coverage in the first half of the course, yet each is pursued with the goal of enabling students to leverage the possibilities that come with manual image capture. Once confident about technical basics, students apply their skills when pursuing creative questions such as how to understand and use light, how to consider composition, and how to take compelling portraits. Throughout the course, students tackle projects that enable sharing their local and diverse settings, ideally creating global perspectives through doing so. Additionally, students interact with each other often through critique sessions and collaborative exploration of the work of many noteworthy professional photographers, whose images serve to inspire and suggest the diverse ways that photography tells visual stories.

Prerequisites: Students must have daily access to a DSLR camera.

Filmmaking

This course is for students interested in developing their skills as filmmakers and creative problem-solvers. It is also a forum for screening the work of their peers and providing constructive feedback for revisions and future projects, while helping them to develop critical thinking skills. The course works from a set of specific exercises based on self-directed research and builds to a series of short experimental films that challenge students on both a technical and creative level. Throughout, we will increasingly focus on helping students express their personal outlooks and develop their unique styles as filmmakers. We will review and reference short films online and discuss how students might find inspiration and apply what they find to their own works.

Global Health

What makes people sick? What social and political factors lead to the health disparities we see both within our own community and on a global scale? What are the biggest challenges in global health and how might they be met? Using an interdisciplinary approach to address these two questions, this course improves students' health literacy through an examination of the most significant public-health challenges facing today's global population. Topics include the biology of infectious disease (specifically HIV and Malaria); the statistics and quantitative measures associated with health issues; the social determinants of health; and the role of organizations (public and private) in shaping the landscape of global health policy. Students use illness as a lens through which to examine social issues like poverty, gender, and race. Student work includes analytical and creative writing; research, and peer collaboration; reading and discussions of nonfiction; and online presentations.

Introduction to Investments

In this course, students simulate the work of investors by working with the tools, theories, and decision-making practices that define smart investment. We explore concepts in finance and apply them to investment decisions in three primary contexts: portfolio management, venture capital, and social investing. After an introduction to theories about valuation and risk management, students simulate scenarios in which they must make decisions to grow an investment portfolio. They manage investments in stocks, bonds, and options to learn a range of strategies for increasing the value of their portfolios. In the second unit, they take the perspective of venture capital investors, analyzing startup companies and predicting their value before they become public. In the third unit, students examine case studies of investment funds that apply the tools of finance to power social change. Throughout the course, students learn from experts who have experience in identifying value and managing risk in global markets. They develop their own ideas about methods for taking calculated financial risks and leave this course not just with a simulated portfolio of investments, but the skills necessary to manage portfolios in the future.

Introduction to Psychology

What does it mean to think like a psychologist? In Introduction to Psychology, students explore three central psychological perspectives – the behavioral, the cognitive, and the sociocultural – in order to develop a multi-faceted understanding of what thinking like a psychologist encompasses. The additional question of “How do psychologists put what they know into practice?” informs study of the research methods in psychology, the ethics surrounding them, and the application of those methods to practice. During the first five units of the course, students gather essential information that they apply during a group project on the unique characteristics of adolescent psychology. Students similarly envision a case study on depression, which enables application of understandings from the first five units. The course concludes with a unit on positive psychology, which features current positive psychology research on living mentally healthy lives. Throughout the course, students collaborate on a variety of activities and assessments, which often enable learning about each other’s unique perspectives while building their research and critical thinking skills in service of understanding the complex field of psychology.

iOS App Design

Learn how to design and build apps for the iPhone and iPad and prepare to publish them in the App Store. Students will work much like a small startup: collaborating as a team, sharing designs, and learning to communicate with each other throughout the course. Students will learn the valuable skills of creativity, collaboration, and communication as they create something amazing, challenging, and worthwhile. Coding experience is NOT required and does not play a significant role in this course.

Prerequisite: For this course, it is required that students have access to a computer running the most current Mac or Windows operating system (Mac OS X is necessary only if you plan to try your hand at publishing). An iOS device that can run apps (iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad) is also highly recommended.

Medical Problem Solving I

In this course students collaboratively solve medical mystery cases, similar to the approach used in many medical schools. Students enhance their critical thinking skills as they examine data, draw conclusions, diagnose, and treat patients. Students use problem-solving techniques in order to understand and appreciate relevant medical/biological facts as they confront the principles and practices of medicine. Students explore anatomy and physiology pertaining to medical scenarios and gain an understanding of the disease process, demographics of disease, and pharmacology. Additional learning experiences include studying current issues in health and medicine, building a community-service action plan, interviewing a patient, and creating a new mystery case.

Microeconomics

In this course, students learn about how consumers and producers interact to form a market and then how and why the government may intervene in that market. Students deepen their understanding of basic microeconomic theory through class discussion and debate, problem solving, and written reflection. Students visit a local production site and write a report using the market principals they have learned. Economic ways of thinking about the world will help them better understand their roles as consumers and workers, and someday, as voters and producers.

Number Theory

Once thought of as the purest but least applicable part of mathematics, number theory is now by far the most commonly applied: every one of the millions of secure internet transmissions occurring each second is encrypted using ideas from number theory. This course covers the fundamentals of this classical, elegant, yet supremely relevant subject. It provides a foundation for further study of number theory, but even more, it develops the skills of mathematical reasoning and proof in a concrete and intuitive way, good preparation for any future course in upper-level college mathematics or theoretical computer science. We progressively develop the tools needed to understand the RSA algorithm, the most common encryption scheme used worldwide. Along the way we invent some encryption schemes of our own and discover how to play games using number theory. We also get a taste of the history of the subject, which involves the most famous mathematicians from antiquity to the present day, and we see parts of the story of Fermat’s Last Theorem, a 350-year-old statement that was fully proven only twenty years ago. While most calculations will be simple enough to do by hand, we will sometimes use the computer to see how the fundamental ideas can be applied to the huge numbers needed for modern applications.

Prerequisite: A strong background in precalculus and above, as well as a desire to do rigorous mathematics and proofs.

Poetry Writing

The poetry writing workshop explores identity and seeks to answer the question: How are you shaped (or not) by the community you live in? Our goal is to create a supportive online network of writers that uses language to discover unique and mutual understandings of what it means to be a global citizen from a local place. Students draft and revise poems, provide and receive frequent feedback, and read a range of modern and contemporary poets whose work is grounded in place. Sample assignments include audio and video recording, an online journal, study of performance poetry, peer video conferences, close reading, investigations into process and craft, collaborative poetry anthologies, and a class publication. All writers have the opportunity to send their work to international contests and publications.

Power: Redressing Inequity with Data

Students utilize research, data, their own sense of social justice, and the application of all three to right wrongs in our world. A collaborative track and an independent track will run concurrently throughout the semester. Collaboratively, the full class works through a unit on Power Frameworks (Nietzsche, Foucault, Weber, and French & Raven) followed by a series of inequality case studies that will provide insight into and practice with all six steps of the Power and Inequality Assessment (PIA) approach:
1. Identify specific inequality.
2. Provide and analyze data to substantiate the inequality.
3. Identify type(s) of power that created and are maintaining the inequality.
4. Provide and analyze data to substantiate power claim.
5. Present and explain specific action steps to redress inequality.
6. Identify type(s) of power necessary to implement action plan.
Independently, all students will apply the PIA approach to a specific local, national, or global inequality of their choosing. Past PIA projects have explored gender inequality in NCAA collegiate coaching; racial inequality in the American police force; and economic inequality in the treatment of immigrants, to name only a few. Regular, guided peer review will help students to hone their final products. Final PIA products will be presented in multimedia formats asynchronously online. Invited audience members will include GOA classmates; site directors and other members of home school communities; and experts from relevant fields.

Practical Astronomy

This course serves as a model of how modern astronomy has benefited from the digital revolution and advances in imaging technology. In the past two decades, the amount of information about our place in the universe has seen an explosive expansion. Our understanding of our own solar system has become fundamentally different in that short time. Students learn the modern techniques used by professional astronomers to gather and analyze data. The course reviews coordinate systems used in locating astronomical objects and the basics of spherical trigonometry. Students then wrestle with practical problems such as determining the orbits of newly discovered solar system objects such as minor planets and comets. Data from professional observatories is used to analyze the light curves of binary star systems and variable stars as well as to search for supernovae. These projects, given the global nature of the course, could include timing of occultations of stars by the Moon and asteroids, providing information vital to professional researchers. The Cranbrook Observatory at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA, will be used as a source of data along with other international sources specific to each student for individual projects.

Prerequisite: successful completion of a course in trigonometry and geometry.

Social Psychology

Social psychology examines how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of a person are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. Students design research projects that explore contemporary issues relevant to this course, including but not limited to social media, advertising, peer pressure, and social conflict. In order to equip students to do this work, the course begins with an overview of research methods in psychology as well as several historical studies by Solomon Asch, Stanley Milgram, and Philip Zimbardo. Students develop foundational knowledge of social psychology by exploring a diversity of topics, including attitudes and actions, group behavior, prejudice and discrimination, interpersonal relationships, conformity, attraction, and persuasion. The capstone project of this course is a student-designed research project that will be submitted for publication, presentation to an audience, or used to catalyze change in local communities. This course may be taken as a continuation of Introduction to Psychology, although doing so is not required.

Water

This inquiry-based course examines water as a physical element of the earth, an essential element of life and a driver of human experience. Short case studies introduce students to the range of disciplines through which water can be studied, including oceanography, literature and international relations. The class develops a master list of questions such as: how is water used in human cells? How does it get to our homes? How do people live on and around it in low-lying areas? How does it shape mountains and vegetation? What happens when rivers change course at international borders? How do drought and flood influence history, art, and cultural practices? Working in small groups, students tackle such questions through online research, observation and interviews with local experts. Their findings are collected in a publicly available website which serves as the basis for “action projects.” These student-designed projects are created for specific audiences: They might involve building a prototype, creating a short film or writing a formal proposal to an agency or organization.

9/11 in a Global Context

September 11, 2001 was a tragic day that changed the world in profound ways. In this course students explore the causes of 9/11, the events of the day itself, and its aftermath locally, nationally, and around the world. In place of a standard chronological framework, students instead view these events through a series of separate lenses. Each lens represents a different way to view the attacks and allows students to understand 9/11 as an event with complex and interrelated causes and outcomes. Using a variety of technologies and activities, students work individually and with peers to evaluate each lens. Students then analyze the post-9/11 period and explore how this event affected the U.S., the Middle East, and the wider world.

Spring Semester Courses

 

Abnormal Psychology

This course focuses on psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and depression. As students examine these and other disorders, they learn about their symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments. Students also deepen their understanding of the social stigmas associated with mental illnesses. This course may be taken as a continuation of Introduction to Psychology, although doing so is not required.

Advocacy

This skills-based course explores the creativity, effort, and diversity of techniques required to change people's minds and motivate them to act. Students learn how to craft persuasive arguments in a variety of formats (written, oral, and multimedia) by developing a campaign for change around an issue about which they care deeply. We explore a number of relevant case studies and examples as we craft our campaigns. Units include persuasive writing, social media, public speaking, informational graphics, and more. The culminating project is a multimedia presentation delivered and recorded before a live audience.

Architecture

In this course students explore the field of architecture through a series of units covering elements of architectural design, materials and structure, architectural analysis, and 3D design. Students begin the course by learning the basic elements of architectural design and then using Google SketchUp to build models of these elements. In the second unit students will study buildings like the Stonehenge, the Parthenon in Athens, the Roman Aqueduct of Pont du Gard in France, and the Pantheon in Rome to develop an understanding of materials and structures. At each stage students will learn how changes in materials, technology, and construction techniques lead to the evolution of architecture over time. In the third unit students will learn how to analyze structures using Ancient Greek temples as an example. The course will end with a final project in which each student will have the opportunity to design and build a sacred structure of their choice based on their new understanding of architecture, construction, and engineering.

Bioethics

Also offered in fall semester.

Ethics is the study of what one should do as an individual and as a member of society. In this course students evaluate ethical issues related to medicine and the life sciences. During the semester, students explore real-life ethical issues, including vaccination policies, organ transplantation, genetic testing, human experimentation, and animal research. Through reading, writing, and discussion, students learn basic concepts and skills in the field of bioethics, deepen their understanding of biological concepts, strengthen their critical-reasoning skills, and learn to engage in respectful dialogue with people whose views may differ from their own. In addition to journal articles and position papers, students will be required to read Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Comparative Politics

In 2012, the Economist issued a report entitled “Democracy at a Standstill.” This course uses the comparative model to ask students to consider whether democracy is in fact at a standstill, but more importantly, if and why we should care. By looking at current events, reading scholarly research, analyzing data, conducting personal interviews, and engaging in a series of debates, students assess the status of democracy in the world and also explore the challenges and alternatives to democratic systems. In so doing, they constantly reevaluate their own beliefs and understandings about how power should be distributed and utilized.

Computer Science I: Computational Thinking

Also offered in fall semester.

This course (or its equivalent) is a prerequisite to all Computer Science II classes at GOA. Computational thinking centers on solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior. It has applications not only in computer science, but also myriad other fields of study. This introductory level course focuses on thinking like a computer scientist, especially understanding how computer scientists define and solve problems. Students begin the course by developing an understanding of what computer science is, how it can be used by people who are not programmers, and why it’s a useful skill for all people to cultivate. Within this context, students are exposed to the power and limits of computational thinking. Students are introduced to entry level programming constructs that will help them apply their knowledge of computational thinking in practical ways. They will learn how to read code and pseudocode as well as begin to develop strategies for debugging programs. By developing computational thinking and programming skills, students will have the core knowledge to define and solve problems in future computer science courses. While this course would be beneficial for any student without formal training as a programmer or computer scientist, it is intended for those with no programming experience.

Computer Science II: Analyzing Data With Python

In this course, students utilize the Python programming language to read, manipulate and analyze data. The course emphasizes using real world datasets, which are often large, messy, and inconsistent. Because of the powerful data structures and clear syntax of Python, it is one of the most widely used programming languages in scientific computing. Students explore the multitude of practical applications of Python in fields like biology, engineering, and statistics.

Prerequisite: Completion of Computer Science I: Computational Thinking or its equivalent.

Computer Science II: Game Design and Development

In this course, students practice designing and developing games through hands-on practice. Comprised of a series of "game jams," the course asks students to solve problems and create content, developing the design and technical skills necessary to build their own games. The first month of the course is dedicated to understanding game design through game designer Jesse Schell’s “lenses”: different ways of looking at the same problem and answering questions that provide direction and refinement of a game’s theme and structure. During this time, students also learn how to use Unity, the professional game development tool they use throughout the class. They become familiar with the methodologies of constructing a game using such assets as graphics, sounds, and effects, and controlling events and behavior within the game using the C# programming language. Throughout the remainder of the course, students will work in teams to brainstorm and develop new games in response to a theme or challenge. Students will develop their skills in communication, project- and time- management, and creative problem-solving while focusing on different aspects of asset creation, design, and coding.

Prerequisites: Computer Science I: Computational Thinking or its equivalent.

Computer Science II: Java

This course teaches students how to write programs in the Java programming language. Java is the backbone of many web applications, especially eCommerce and government sites. It is also the foundational code of the Android operating system and many tools of the financial sector. Students learn the major syntactical elements of the Java language though objected oriented design. The emphasis in the course will be on creating intelligent systems though the fundamentals of Computer Science. Students will write working programs through short lab assignments and more extended projects that incorporate graphics and animation.

Prerequisite: Computer Science I: Computational Thinking or its equivalent.

Energy

In this course, students develop a keen ability to analyze global energy issues. A historical and scientific exploration of fossil fuels gives students the foundation to tackle economic and environmental concerns related to traditional and alternative energy. Students do technical analyses of the rates of depletion of the reserves of major oil-producing countries and investigate the motivations for an oil-producing nation to become member of OPEC. Students take sides in major energy debates on topics like “fracking” or the international movement of energy supplies. In their final project, students present to their peers on all key aspects of an alternative energy source, including technical and economic viability and environmental sustainability.

Entrepreneurship in a Global Context

How does an entrepreneur think? What skills must entrepreneurs possess to remain competitive and relevant? What are some of the strategies that entrepreneurs apply to solve problems? In this experiential course students develop an understanding of entrepreneurship in today’s global market; employ innovation, design, and creative solutions for building a viable business model; and learn to develop, refine, and pitch a new start-up. Units include Business Model Canvas, Customer Development vs. Design Thinking, Value Proposition, Customer Segments, Iterations & Pivots, Brand Strategy & Channels, and Funding Sources. Students will use the Business Model Canvas as a roadmap to building and developing their own team start-up, a process that will require hypothesis testing, customer research conducted in hometown markets, product design, product iterations, and entrepreneur interviews. An online start-up pitch by the student team to an entrepreneurial advisory committee will be the culminating assessment. Additional student work will include research, journaling, interviews, peer collaboration, and a case study involving real world consulting work for a current business.

Fiction Writing

This course connects students interested in creative writing (primarily short fiction) and provides a space for supportive and constructive feedback. Students gain experience in the workshop model, learning how to effectively critique and discuss one another's writing in an online environment. In addition to developing skills as a reader within a workshop setting, students strive to develop their own writing identities through a variety of exercises. The course capitalizes on the geographic diversity of the students by eliciting stories that shed light on both the commonalities and differences of life experiences in different locations. Additionally, we read and discuss the work of authors from around the globe. Students’ essential responsibilities are twofold: to engage in the class as readers and writers and to focus on their development as readers and writers. Both require participation in discussions of various formats within our online community, as well as dedicated time outside of class reading and providing feedback on one another’s work and writing original pieces for the workshop.

Game Theory

Do you play games? Do you ever wonder if you’re using “the right” strategy? What makes one strategy better than another? In this course, we explore a branch of mathematics known as game theory, which answers these questions and many more. Game theory has many applications as we face dilemmas and conflicts every day, most of which we can treat as mathematical games. We consider significant global events from fields like diplomacy, political science, anthropology, philosophy, economics, and popular culture. Specific topics include two-person zero-sum games, two person non-zero-sum games, sequential games, multiplayer games, linear optimization, and voting and power theory.

Gender Studies

This course uses the concept of gender to examine a range of topics and disciplines that includes feminism, gay and lesbian studies, women’s studies, popular culture, and politics. Throughout the course students examine the intersection of gender with other social identifiers: class, race, sexual orientation, culture, and ethnicity. Students read about, write about, and discuss gender issues as they simultaneously reflect on the ways that gender has manifested in and influenced their lives.

GOA Learning Studios

GOA Learning Studios explore interdisciplinary topics through student-driven learning. Led by a teacher who designs the overall structure, these courses ask students to craft their own projects based on their interests and develop strong relationships with classmates through frequent conversation and feedback. Students can expect to learn how to identify relevant local and/or global issues to explore deeply, how to craft their own plans for structuring and exploring the issue, how to test new ideas both in and out of class, and how to be an active part of a community of learners. Learning Studios demand a high level of organizational and interpersonal skills, curiosity, determination, and flexibility.

Graphic Design

What makes a message persuasive and compelling? What helps audiences and viewers sort and make sense of information? This course explores the relationship between information and influence from a graphic design perspective. Using an integrated case study and design-based approach, this course aims to deepen students’ design, visual, and information literacies. Students are empowered to design and prototype communication projects about which they are passionate. Topics include: principles of design and visual communication, infographics, digital search skills, networks and social media, persuasion and storytelling with multimedia, and social activism on the Internet. Student work will include individual and collaborative group projects, graphic design, content curation, some analytical and creative writing, peer review and critiques, and online presentations.

Introduction to Psychology

Also offered in fall semester.

What does it mean to think like a psychologist? In Introduction to Psychology, students explore three central psychological perspectives – the behavioral, the cognitive, and the sociocultural – in order to develop a multi-faceted understanding of what thinking like a psychologist encompasses. The additional question of “How do psychologists put what they know into practice?” informs study of the research methods in psychology, the ethics surrounding them, and the application of those methods to practice. During the first five units of the course, students gather essential information that they apply during a group project on the unique characteristics of adolescent psychology. Students similarly envision a case study on depression, which enables application of understandings from the first five units. The course concludes with a unit on positive psychology, which features current positive psychology research on living mentally healthy lives. Throughout the course, students collaborate on a variety of activities and assessments, which often enable learning about each other’s unique perspectives while building their research and critical thinking skills in service of understanding the complex field of psychology.

iOS App Design

Also offered in fall semester.

Learn how to design and build apps for the iPhone and iPad and prepare to publish them in the App Store. Students will work much like a small startup: collaborating as a team, sharing designs, and learning to communicate with each other throughout the course. Students will learn the valuable skills of creativity, collaboration, and communication as they create something amazing, challenging, and worthwhile. Coding experience is NOT required and does not play a significant role in this course.

Prerequisite: For this course, it is required that students have access to a computer running the most current Mac or Windows operating system (Mac OS X is necessary only if you plan to try your hand at publishing). An iOS device that can run apps (iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad) is also highly recommended.

Linear Algebra

In this course students learn about the algebra of vector spaces and matrices by looking at how images of objects in the plane and space are transformed in computer graphics. We do some paper-and-pencil calculations early in the course, but the computer software package Geogebra (free) will be used to do most calculations after the opening weeks. No prior experience with this software or linear algebra is necessary. Following the introduction to core concepts and skills, students analyze social networks using linear algebraic techniques. Students will learn how to model social networks using matrices and to discover things about the network with linear algebra as your tool. We will consider applications like Facebook and Google.

Prerequisite: completion of Geometry and Algebra 2 or the equivalents.

Macroeconomics

In this course students study macroeconomic theory as it relates to domestic and global policies on employment, national income, government spending, and the impact of foreign spending on domestic economies and foreign exchange markets. Students use real world events and data as case studies in order to develop a better understanding of the driving forces behind domestic and international macroeconomic markets. In the final portion of the course, students have the opportunity to develop their own solutions to a local/global issue of their choice (such as poverty, environmental pollution, and limited access to education) based on their new understanding of macroeconomic theory.

Medical Problem Solving I

Also offered in fall semester.

In this course students collaboratively solve medical mystery cases, similar to the approach used in many medical schools. Students enhance their critical thinking skills as they examine data, draw conclusions, diagnose, and treat patients. Students use problem-solving techniques in order to understand and appreciate relevant medical/biological facts as they confront the principles and practices of medicine. Students explore anatomy and physiology pertaining to medical scenarios and gain an understanding of the disease process, demographics of disease, and pharmacology. Additional learning experiences include studying current issues in health and medicine, building a community-service action plan, interviewing a patient, and creating a new mystery case.

Medical Problem Solving II

This course is an extension of the problem-based learning done in Medical Problem Solving I. While collaborative examination of medical case studies will remain the core work of the course, students will tackle more complex cases and explore new topics in medical science, such as the growing field of bioinformatics. Students in MPS II will also have opportunities to design cases based on personal interests, discuss current topics in medicine, and apply their learning to issues in their local communities.

Prerequisite: completion of Medical Problem Solving I.

Music Theory and Digital Composition

In Music Theory and Digital Composition, students explore the structure, writing, and recording of music as a design problem, with the intention of creating and releasing a finished piece of original music. The first half of the semester is focused on the history of music, the staff, notation, scales, intervals, chords, and harmony. In conjunction with this is the use of two pieces of software called Auralia and Musition, which quickly attune to each student’s individual skill level in ear training and sight reading, respectively. This aids the student in writing an original composition, the quality and character of which is determined by personal music interests and learning more about their identified target audience. The foundation of the course is the Design Thinking model, which guides students through a process that begins with empathizing with their audience, defining their piece, iterating several design drafts, prototyping, and then releasing the finished recording for feedback and another iteration of refinement. The second half of the course is focused on performing, recording, mixing, mastering, and releasing a recording of their composition, all the while keeping key target audience members in the loop through surveys and conversations.

Neuropsychology

This course is an exploration of the neurological basis of behavior. It covers basic brain anatomy and function as well as cognitive and behavioral disorders from a neurobiological perspective. Additionally, students explore current neuroscience research as well as the process of funding that research. Examples of illnesses that may be covered include: Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury, and stroke. In addition, we explore diagnostic and treatment issues (including behavioral and pharmaceutical management) as well as attention, learning, memory, sleep, consciousness and emotional intelligence. Students conclude the course by developing a fundraising campaign to support research and/or patient care initiatives related to a specific neurological condition and nonprofit foundation. Neuropsychology can be taken as a continuation of Introduction to Psychology, although it is not required.

Organic Chemistry

This course is designed with two goals in mind: one pragmatic, and one philosophical. Pragmatically it provides a few foundational blocks for further studies in the organic chemistry field, giving students a small window on future, more traditional organic courses. Philosophically it aims to open an infinite world of discovery of complex molecules, their properties and reactions and applications, that hold the keys to confronting and solving the world¹s most challenging, future scientific problems. The emphasis of the course is on stimulating interest in organic chemistry through an exploration of the molecules relevant to modern life. Students can use this course as a springboard for further learning, as the beginning of a longer journey.

9/11 in a Global Context

September 11, 2001 was a tragic day that changed the world in profound ways. In this course students explore the causes of 9/11, the events of the day itself, and its aftermath locally, nationally, and around the world. In place of a standard chronological framework, students instead view these events through a series of separate lenses. Each lens represents a different way to view the attacks and allows students to understand 9/11 as an event with complex and interrelated causes and outcomes. Using a variety of technologies and activities, students work individually and with peers to evaluate each lens. Students then analyze the post-9/11 period and explore how this event affected the U.S., the Middle East, and the wider world.