MSU to offer series of non-credit courses for educators to enhance instruction on soils, slopes and streams

Academic Technology and Outreach and the Department of Earth Sciences at Montana State University will offer a series of non-credit courses for both traditional K-12 teachers and alternative educators focusing on teaching about soils, slopes and streams and how different Earth processes impact human lives.

Registration is now open for the fully online courses, which run July through September. Participants who complete the three-course series can earn Montana Office of Public Instruction units and a digital badge.

This three-course series is designed for educators from diverse backgrounds, including those at the K-12 level, instructors at nonprofit organizations, staff and administrators of after-school and outdoor programs, and other educators who want to learn more about Earth surface processes and how to teach students about them.

The courses will be taught by Jean Dixon, an associate professor in the Earth Sciences department, and Robyn Gotz, an instructor in the department and the Master of Science in Science Education program. Dixon’s research and teaching focus on the movement of soils and sediments at the Earth's surface, as well as sustainability and natural hazards. Gotz has a background in Earth sciences, geoscience education and online education and engagement.

The courses are listed below:

  • "Soils, Slopes and Streams 1: Content Knowledge" runs Aug. 2-22. It will focus on soils, streams and slopes and related Earth processes that impact humans. This course is self-paced, so students may complete the materials at their own schedule. It is free and available to all. 
  • Soils, Slopes and Streams 2: Pedagogy” runs Aug. 16 through Sept. 14 and will focus on integrating content with pedagogy through coursework and reflections. This course is self-paced and contains approximately four hours of content to be delivered via MSU’s online learning management system Brightspace (D2L). The fee is $25, and “Soils, Slopes and Streams 1: Content Knowledge” is a prerequisite.
  • Soils, Slopes and Streams 3: Workshop” will guide participants through developing course-related teaching activities during four interactive class sessions. This course will be delivered via Brightspace (D2L). Participants should plan for two to three hours of reading and preparation in total for the live sessions. The fee is $145. “Soils, Slopes and Streams 1: Content Knowledge” and “Soils, Slopes and Streams 2: Pedagogy” are prerequisites. 

Upon satisfactory completion of all three courses, participants can earn 22 OPI units and will be issued a digital badge. Learn more about digital badges at MSU at

For more information or to register, please visit or contact Academic Technology and Outreach at 406-994-6550 or

Academic Technology and Outreach at MSU works across the university to support and advance its land-grant mission through unique and innovative opportunities for online learning; continuing, professional and lifelong learning; and outreach and engagement.