Why do academics use technology in teaching?

This week is All Aboard week in Ireland, essayed at “Building Confidence in Digital Skills for Learning”. I am speaking today in the gorgeous city of Galway on this topic, and came across this paper in a recent BJET which gives some useful context. It summarises interviews with 33 Australian academics from various disciplines, on the topic of why they used technology in assessment. While the particular lens is on assessment, I think there are some useful things to note for those espousing the incorporation of technology generally. Four themes emerge from the interviews The first is that there is…

Rounding up the peer review and digital badge project

Marcy Towns’ lovely paper from 2015 described the use of digital badges in higher education chemistry, specifically for assessment of laboratory skills. This work was important.  The concept of badges had been around for a while. When I first came across them while doing an MSc in E-Learning back in 2010, laboratory work seemed an obvious place to use them. But while the technology promised a lot, there wasn’t feasible systems in place to do it. And what exactly would you badge, anyway? And would undergraduate students really take a digital badge seriously? Towns’ work was important for several reasons. On…

#ViCEPHEC16 – curly arrows and labs

The annual Variety in Chemistry Education/Physics Higher Education conference was on this week in Southampton. Some notes and thoughts are below. Curly arrows Physicists learned a lot about curly arrows at this conference. Nick Greeves‘ opening keynote spoke about the development of ChemTube3D – a stunning achievement – over 1000 HTML pages, mostly developed by UG students. News for those who know the site are that 3D curly arrow mechanisms are now part of the reaction mechanism visualisations, really beautiful visualisation of changing orbitals as a reaction proceeds for 30+ reactions, lovely visualisations of MOFs, direct links to/from various textbooks, and an…

Getting ready to badge and looking for interested partners

Over the summer we have been working on a lab skills badging project. Lots of detail is on the project home site, but briefly this is what it’s about: Experimental skills are a crucial component of student laboratory learning, but we rarely assess them, or even check them, formally. For schools, there is a requirement to show that students are doing practical work. By implementing a system whereby students review particular lab techniques in advance of labs, demonstrate them to a peer while being videod, reviews the technique with a peer using a checklist, and uploads the video for assessment, we…

A future direction for clickers?

Clickers are routinely used to survey class on their understanding of topics or test their knowledge with quizzes, and as technology has developed, there have been clever ways of doing this (See: The Rise and Rise…). One issue that arises is that as lecturers, we don’t have a convenient way to know what individual students think, or what their answer is. Enter this recent paper from BJET, An Augmented Lecture Feedback System to support Learner and Teacher Communication. This paper describes a clicker-based system, but instead of (or as well as) a lecturer viewing a chart of responses, the lecturer sees the…

Photosynthesis Animation and Interactive Activity

A recent J Chem Ed paper (free to access) contains a link to a photosynthesis activity that might be of interest to those teaching this topic. The activity is a little difficult to get at, and when you do get it, it is a Flash file, so will not work on iOS. To get the activity, go the the paper landing page, and select Supporting Info. Download and extract the zip file, and open Photosynthesis.exe file. The animation is nicely produced. It is a little static from the user perspective – each section involves watching an animated video – but…

Lack of literature on flipped lecture rooms

Compiling literature on flipped/inverted classrooms for higher education isn’t easy. A lot of returns are of the “I couldn’t believe my ears!” type blog, which is fine for what it is, but not an academic study. Yet more literature, typically of the Chronicle or Educause type, tends to say flipped classrooms are great, and they lead on to MOOCs (as in the case of this recent C&EN piece), with a subsequent discussion on MOOCs, or tie in flipped classrooms with Peer Instruction, with a discussion on peer instruction. In these cases, and especially so for PI, this is the intention of the…

The Application of Technology to Enhance Chemistry Education

Call for Papers Contributions are invited for a themed, peer-reviewed issue of CERP on The Application of Technology to Enhance Chemistry Education which is scheduled for publication Autumn 2013. Guest Editors: Michael K Seery and Claire McDonnell. Topics for contribution may include but are not limited to:  Blended learning to support ‘traditional’ instruction (e.g. online resources, wikis, blogs, e-portfolios) In-class technology (e.g. clickers, iPads or equivalent) Online learning (e.g. distance learning initiatives, online collaborative learning, active and interactive eLearning, computer simulations of practical work, modelling software for online learning) Cognitive considerations for online learning (e.g. designing online resources) E-assessment (e.g….

Variety in Chemistry Education Meeting, 2012

Variety in Chemistry Education is one of my favourite conferences which I attend annually (2010 and 2011 reports here). This year’s meeting was held along with the Physics Higher Education Conference, providing the catchy Twitter hashtag #vicephec. The meeting was opened with a keynote by Prof Martyn Poliakoff, inorganic chemist from Nottingham, but better known to 102,403 YouTube subscribers as the star of the Periodic Table of Videos series, which have been viewed over 25,243,185 times. Prof Poliakoff received the 2011 RSC Nyholm Prize—awarded every other year for Education. He spoke about the development of the videos, working with video…