Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology is a 12-lesson course teaching a comprehensive overview of non-avian dinosaurs. Topics covered: anatomy, eating, locomotion, growth, environmental and behavioral adaptations, origins and extinction. Lessons are delivered from museums, fossil-preparation labs and dig sites. Estimated workload: 3-5 hrs/week.
Appearance and Anatomy This lesson covers the diversity in dinosaur appearances, and will be able to identify major features of the major groups of dinosaurs.
Death and Fossilization This module describes how fossils form, how we interpret the taphonomy of skeletons and bonebeds, and looks at the possible biases taphonomic events may create in the fossil record.
Eating This module looks at the variety of food types, feeding habits, and feeding adaptations amongst the major groups of dinosaurs.
Moving Around This module helps students understand the general modes and styles of locomotion in the major dinosaur groups. It also describes general methods of evaluating hypotheses on locomotion.
Birth, Growth and Reproduction This module provides a generalized life history of a dinosaur, from birth through adulthood, including reproduction. The student will be able to describe major techniques of evaluating growth stages and rates in dinosaurs.
Attack and Defense Examines the behaviours and structures that may have served for attack or defence through the lifetime of a dinosaur.
What is a Species? This module will teach the different ways of defining what a species is. Students will be able to compare the strengths and weaknesses of different species concepts for different situations.
Evolution This module will describe the basic theories of speciation, and discusses how how these different methods of speciation may have occurred, including both hypothetical and empirical examples.
Stratigraphy and Geologic Time This method provides basic stratigraphic concepts and the scale of earth history. Students will understand the evolution of dinosaurs through time, including which groups evolved when and where.
Paleogeography and Plate Tectonics This module presents the basic concepts in plate tectonics and the evolution of the earth’s surface.
Dinosaur Origins This module will look at the evolution of dinosaurs from non-dinosaurian archosaurs.
Dinosaur Extinction The module will examine the end-Cretaceous extinction event, and provide examples of vertebrate groups that both persisted and died out during the event.
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These arefree online courses from universities around the world (eg. StanfordHarvardMIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
How do I register?
To register for a course, click on "Go to Class" button on the course page. This will take you to the providers website where you can register for the course.
How do these MOOCs or free online courses work?
MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you. They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.
Jeffrey Chioucompleted this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.
Great course! The lectures are very enjoyable to watch, much like watching nature documentaries. Overall the difficulty is extremely easy and requires minimal committment, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are a busy person. In addition, all the lectures are made available at the beginning of the course, so you can watch multiple week's worth of lectures at once if you want.
To get the most out of the course, I recommend reading the included class notes, which go into greater detail than the lectures and contain some wonderful diagrams and pictures.
The only (very minor) criticism I have is that difficulty of the in-lecture quizzes varies greatly and depends on prior knowledge.
John Smithcompleted this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.
I personally found this course to be far too basic. It is a very superficial introduction to and overview of dinosaurs that will not be very interesting to anyone with more than a passing interest in them. Having said that, the course was quite well done and would be perfect for someone who is just beginning to learn about dinosaurs.
Great intro to dinosaur biology. Engaging lectures and some good discussion in the forums. Plus there are some 3D scans of dino fossils you can play with in your browser.
As one of the other reviewers implied, it is not a rigorous course, although they do go into some detail about dino anatomy. I thought it was perfect for a 100 level course. If UAlberta ever gives a follow-on, I am there!
Anonymouscompleted this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
I was initially nervous about taking this course given that I don't come from a scientific background but I was pleased to discover that I struggled much less than I thought I would. It is a wonderful overview and introduction to paleobiology and inspired me to look for more courses in the same arena.
Mona Fahmy Langcompleted this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Very interesting course. I did it for myself, because I wanted to know more about dinosaurs and I learned so much also about the Earth. What I also liked was to learn about the latest discoveries in that field. The content was well organised. The teachers were clear and agreable to listen to. I particularly enjoyed the visits on the field.
Superb! Excellent presentation, real fossils used, on-location filming, engaging software applications, great supplementary materials, and strong on-line support. This was my first class in over a decade and it has motivated me to look at additional MOOC offerings.
Another terrific MOOC featuring engaging material and presenters. This one gets points for variety – they regularly changed up the format of the video lectures and even took us on-site to excavations in the Alberta Badlands.
Tw Haydencompleted this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
I zoomed through the videos, foregoing the week by week. This was a really great course. A thorough introduction to dinosaurs that touches on so much of the relevant scientific information. Embedded questions in the video were great.