The Living Planet

The Living Planet


Credit Spring 2021
01/19/2021 - 05/16/2021

Course Information

Section 003
Distance Learning
Elizabeth Maxim

Office Hours

  • M
    4:30 - 6:30 pm
    Blackboard Collaborate
    For BIOL 1408
  • T
    3:00 - 4:30
    Blackboard Collaborate
    For BIOL 1409
  • T
    4:30 - 6:30 pm
    Blackboard Collaborate
    For BIOL 2306
  • W
    1:30 - 3:00 pm
    Blackboard Collaborate
    For BIOL 1408
  • Th
    3:00 - 5:00 pm
    Blackboard Collaborate
    For BIOL 1309

Course Requirements



BIOL 2306 LIVING PLANET is based on 12 programs produced by the BBC and narrated by David Attenborough.

            ►  The course is divided into five units. 

            ►  These units should be completed in order. 

            ►  There is a study guide that is central to the course.  The study guide includes some text

                        that explains major concepts for each section and guides you through the video

                        episodes that are available as streaming videos.

            ►  Each unit will have one graded homework assignment which you will complete and

                        submit to your instructor through Blackboard.  Paper-based assignments will not be

                        accepted for grading..

            ►  The class will be divided into discussion groups.  Every week, discussion topics will be

                        posted for students to discuss online.  You can also discuss study guide questions and

                        concepts if your discussion group has covered all the discussion topics.  You will be

                        graded on your participation  and discussion topics will be covered on the exams.



For each unit, there will be an online homework assignment that will expand on, supplement, correct, clarify and make more personal the basic ecology concepts covered in the unit. Each assignment is worth 10 points.

They will be available as Microsoft Word documents in the Homework area of the Blackboard site. After you work through the assignment, you will take a Blackboard assessment to check your understanding.



Students are expected to participate in online discussion groups in Blackboard.  You will be assigned to a discussion group during the first week of class by the instructor. I will post a set of discussion topics at the beginning of each week for the group to discuss.  You will find the discussion topics in the “Discussion Topics” section of Blackboard.  Some of these questions may involve material covered in the study guide.  Other questions may require you to look at other online sources. 


There are five unit exams and an optional comprehensive final.

Unit Exams

Each unit exam is worth 100 points. Each unit exam has two parts:

(1) 45 objective questions (multiple choice, true-false, matching). Each objective question will be worth 2 points. That makes the objective section worth 90 points total.  (The first exam is slightly different with 40 multiple choice questions, each worth two points, for 80 points total.)

            (2) 1 short answer question, worth 10 points. There will also be one three-point written question and two  one-point map questions for extra credit. (The first exam is slightly different with two 10 point short answer questions and one 3 point extra credit question, worth 20 points total.)

You may be tested on any material covered in the written parts of the study guide, the videotapes, and the online homework assignments and Powerpoint lectures.  In addition to your ability to remember facts and definitions, you will also be tested on your ability to apply what you have learned to new situations, identify relationships and analyze situations using the facts and terms you have learned. Bloom’s taxonomy is a method of classifying different levels of learning that can help clarify these objectives. While most of the exam questions are at the knowledge level (1.00), you will also have comprehension (2.00), application (3.00) and analysis (4.00) questions, which demand a deeper level of understanding. (See the Orientation & Syllabus section of the Living Planet Blackboard site for a couple of documents that explain more about Bloom’s Taxonomy and testing.)

Exams are cumulative in the sense that you are always responsible for concepts covered in previous units. Exam questions may include information from previous units. That’s why you must complete the exams in order. If you skip a unit, you will not know the concepts from the unit.

There are no retests in this course for the six required exams. However, you can use the optional comprehensive final exam (discussed below) to replace a low grade on a required exam. The final will not substitute for a required exam that you did not take.

Optional Comprehensive Final

An optional comprehensive final will be available during the last few days of the semester. The final will cover all the material in the five units. The final will be totally objective (50 multiple choice questions + 3 extra credit questions). Your grade on the comprehensive final will be used to substitute for your lowest required exam but will not be used to substitute for an exam that you did not take. If your grade on the comprehensive final is lower than your lowest required exam grade, it will not be counted.

The final cannot hurt your grade. If your grade is borderline and you are concerned, plan on taking the final. 

Extra Credit

Each exam has two 2-point written questions for extra credit for a total of 20 possible extra credit points over the semester.   

There are no other extra credit options for this class.  There are no extra credit papers that will replace your exam grades.  If you want to replace your lowest exam grade, take the optional final.



Taking Online Exams (Brief Summary)

This course requires the use of LockDown Browser and a webcam for online exams. The webcam can be built into your computer or can be the type that plugs in with a USB cable. Students with ChromeBooks must use ACC Online Proctoring and schedule available times. Read the details about taking online exams, located at the end of the syllabus in “Online Testing Information.”

All exams consist of questions from instructor-generated question pools. Each exam is randomly generated and will give each student a different group of questions from the question pool for that unit.

The two sections of the exam are separate. You can take them in any order, but you must finish one and submit it before opening the other one—you cannot switch back and forth between them.

The objective questions will be graded electronically when you submit the exam.  This information will show up automatically in your grades in Blackboard. I will grade the short answer section online, and post the grades on Blackboard. Exams will be graded on a first-in, first-out basis. You should expect your short answer grade in about 2 days after you take the exam.

Taking Exams for SAS Accommodations

Students with disabilities must contact an SAS office if they need special testing accommodations.   Before making accommodations, I must first receive your letter of accommodation from SAS 



Summary of Grading Criteria:

           Exams (5 exams @ 100 points each)                     =            500 points

           Online assignments (5 units @ 15 pts/unit)            =              75 points

           Discussion posts (5 units @ 15 pts/unit)                 =               75 points

           Total number of points                                             =            650 points


Final grades for the course will be based on these percentages:

                                                A - 90-100%           

                                                B - 80-89%                       

                                                C - 70-79%           

                                                D - 60-69%           

                                                F - below 60%            


Percentages will be rounded to the nearest whole number before assigning a letter grade.  For example, an 89.5% rounds up to an A (90%); a 79.4% rounds down to a C (79%).


There are NO curved scores and no additional projects for extra credit other than what are already described in this syllabus.  Since there are so many possible extra credit points in this class, grades will not be curved.  Your grade is based solely on the points you earn from exams and online assignments.



You will need the following items:

1.    Study Guide:  Living Planet: Concepts and Questions, 12th edition, July 2016 by Bernice Speer, Betsy Maxim, and Sarah Strong.  You can download and print it from the course Blackboard site or from the Biology Department website at Click on “Lab Manuals & Study Guides”, then on “BIOL 2306—Living Planet”.  It is not available for sale in the ACC bookstore.


2.       The LIVING PLANET video episodes through streaming video on the Blackboard site, and on DVD. See below for more info on obtaining the videos.


3.     Online homework assignments and discussion topics documents and short Powerpoint lectures will be available through the course Blackboard site.




Streaming Video through Blackboard:

All episodes can be viewed from the Blackboard site. Just click on “Streaming Videos” in the frame on the left, and follow the instructions.

Purchased DVDs:

A DVD set of the episodes is easy to find and pretty cheap at and other online sites. Be sure to purchase region 1 DVDs, otherwise you will have difficulty watching it without resetting things on your computer or DVD player.



Although not required for the class, there is a book, Living Planet by David Attenborough, that was written to accompany the video series when it first appeared on television.  Some ACC libraries may have checkout copies of the book.  Students have also found copies of the book at Half-Price Bookstores, or The book may help you understand the videos, especially if you have trouble understanding David Attenborough’s British accent.




For privacy reasons I must use the Blackboard system to email students. Because Blackboard automatically uses your ACCMail address when sending emails, it is imperative that you to set up and check your ACCMail account. You will not receive important announcements if you do not check your ACCMail account regularly. 


To set up your ACCMail account, go to the main ACC website at:

Look in the column on the right for a link called “ACCMail” and click on it. Then click on “First-time user?” On the next page, click on “Go to First Time Login” and follow the directions from there. 


If you have another email account that you would prefer to use (like your Yahoo or Hotmail account), you can easily set up forwarding of your ACCMail to your preferred account. Instructions for forwarding your ACCMail to another account can be found at:  



You will be using Blackboard extensively throughout this class to access course materials, for assessments of assignments and tests, and to check your grades.  I will also use Blackboard to post announcements and to email students.

Once you have your ACCeID and have your ACCMail address, you will be ready to use the Blackboard site. If you have not used Blackboard before, go here to download the “Getting Started with Blackboard” pdf:

You are expected to check Blackboard regularly. Announcements posted there will be very useful to you. They explain formats and remind about deadlines, correct problems with urls and give hints about difficult concepts. Check the announcements often to avoid frustrations!


ACC Photo ID:

You must have an ACC photo student ID to use the testing center.  You can get more information at this web site:  

Course Subjects



What’s Covered

Exam 1

Study Guide Introduction

Discussion topics 1

Homework 1

Exam 2

Episode 1 The Building of the Earth

Episode 2 The Frozen World

Episode 3 The Northern Forests

Discussion topics 2

Homework 2

Exam 3

Episode 4 Jungle

Episode 5 Seas of Grass

Episode 6 The Baking Deserts

Discussion topics 3

Homework 3

Exam 4

Episode 7 Community in the Skies

Episode 8 Sweet Fresh Water

Episode 9 Margins of the Land

Discussion topics 4

Homework 4

Exam 5

Episode 10 Worlds Apart

Episode 11 Oceans

Episode 12 New Worlds

Discussion topics 5

Homework 5

Optional Final All the above material

Student Learning Outcomes/Learning Objectives


Course Description:

A survey of the major biomes of the world, environmental interactions of species, populations and community dynamics, and impact of humans on the world around them.


Skills Requirements:

Reading and writing proficiency as determined by the COMPASS or ASSET test, or by the statewide THEA test, or by providing an official transcript from another college.


Course Rationale:

This course was designed for students who are nonscience majors, although it is also appropriate for science majors. The central underlying theme of the course is ecology. The course examines characteristics of major communities (such as deserts, tropical rainforests, coral reefs, etc.). Problems faced by organisms in different environments and their adaptations to these problems are emphasized throughout the course.  Reoccurring themes include biogeography, symbiosis, nutrient cycles and food chains.


Student Learning Outcomes:


Specific skills and competencies expected of students who complete this course include:

• ability to explain ecological concepts, using several examples to illustrate

• ability to apply ecological concepts to new examples


General Education:

As a Core Curriculum course, students completing this course will demonstrate competence in:

  • Critical Thinking - Gathering, analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating and applying information. 
  • Interpersonal Skills - Interacting collaboratively to achieve common goals.
  • Quantitative and Empirical Reasoning - Applying mathematical, logical and scientific principles and methods.
  • Written, Oral and Visual Communication - Communicating effectively, adapting to purpose, structure, audience, and medium.


Departmental Common Course Objectives:

The ACC Biology Department has specified the content for this course in the departmental common course objectives. The departmental objectives are located at