BIMS

Tag: intuitive systems

One Sabbatical Done, Another Beginning

by gwilson on Dec.10, 2012, under Program

moc-complete-new2The end of the fall semester signals the completion of Dr. Wilson’s sabbatical and the beginning of the sabbatical for Dr. Benoit.  The two are working on a project to create an online microbiology course for allied health students.  Neither would say online micro is the way to go for training a new generation of microbiologists, but creating microbe awareness for those in allied health fields is possible using their unique approach.  And, the realization that a growing list of schools have mandated these courses be taught online (including an online lab) has led them to face the challenge of making sure such classes are done right.  So, the goal is better tools for online microbiology labs and lectures, resources that will maximize learning from a less than optimal approach.

Dr. Wilson’s summer and fall semester have been devoted to creating an online lab. The approach used is one of simulation, kitchen microbiology, and “scavenger hunts”-online searches and trips to local stores.  He has only completed about 75% of the work to date, mainly because his students in his regular microbiology class this spring will help to provide a student’s perspective on “what works” in keeping the activities interesting, informative, and fun.  There will be liberal use of videos in the final product, and students will help with their production.  The goal is to have a finished, polished product by the end of the spring semester – in time for use in the BIOL 3403 microbiology course to be taught this summer.

Dr. Benoit will spend the spring developing the lecture component of the course.  There will be scores of short, focused lectures on key topics to allied health microbiology.  Using a cafeteria approach, an instructor can choose which of these to include to create a tailored course fitting a school’s unique needs.  Benoit plans to use the materials in a test run this summer with BIOL 3403 and have a polished product ready for Fall 2013.

The project is being done with the cooperation and resources of Intuitive Systems, Inc., developer of the simulation software to be used in the lab.  Students will purchase access to the web resources and complete many of their assignments online.  It is expected that access to the lab and lecture together will run less than the cost of a textbook or lab manual.  Quizzes and activities will be auto-graded on the website and the results sent to student and instructor.   For a sneak peek at the early stages of website development, click here.

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Guinea Pigs

by gwilson on Jan.26, 2012, under A Day in the Life...

vumie_splashStudents in BIOL 3410 Microbiology this semester are serving as guinea pigs for the beta-testing of the next generation of VirtualUnknown(TM) Microbiology software.  They join scores of students from across the nation in giving a trial run to VirtualUnknown(TM) Microbiology Internet Edition 2012 (VUMIE 2012).  The software is a product of Intuitive Systems, Inc. and has ties to McMurry faculty and alumni.  VUMIE 2012 will feature for the first time Mac and Linux compatibility and will sport a new look, new features, and a new lab manual.

VirtualUnknown(TM) Microbiology software is a self-described “flight simulator” for the microbiology lab, engaging students in the cognitive and manipulative skills required to study bacteria.  The software won one of three awards for new software products for medical education at the 2000 Slice of Life/Computers in Health Education Symposium conference in Salt Lake City.  Over 60 software packages entered the competition from four continents and around 20 different countries.  VUMicro was the only winner not developed at a medical school.  Today, the software is in use in colleges and universities across the nation and in a few nations overseas.  For more info on what it can do, visit www.virtualunknown.com.

Besides the on-campus students in Micro, there is one student whose work schedule and place of residence make regular participation in lecture and lab at McMurry impossible.  She has completed her degree in chemical engineering and is taking the course in preparation for entering pharmacy school, so the pitfalls of distance learning and rigors of the course should not prove impossible to overcome.  For her, the use of the software means a virtual lab experience is available on a daily basis even though she cannot regularly join in the lab activities.  Practice in streaking plates and microscopy and biochemical tests will be possible on her computer so that the methods and skills others are experiencing on campus do not pass her by.  She will be “soloing” from her home an hour’s drive away while others are here on campus.

We will check back in later in the semester to let you in on how this experiment is working.  Is the new software everything hoped for?  Is our phantom student mastering skills and knowledge from afar at a rate comparable to those on campus?

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