Tag: VirtualUnknown Microbiology
The 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.
It’s one thing to plan new spaces, but another thing to transition from where you are to where you will be. Countless hours have gone into designing spaces, getting quotes on equipment, and thinking through efficient and effective use of space. Now that such things are largely under control and winding down, attention is shifting toward moving out of the spaces so the work can begin.
There is a very narrow window of time during which everything has to be done. We end classes the first week of May and the fall semester starts mid-August. So anything we can do to hasten the start of construction is important. We are already in the process of ordering cabinetry and equipment. May should be the time for demolition and asbestos abatement. Planning is underway for storage of equipment and supplies from the affected spaces during the process. Our miniaturized version of D-Day planning is going well.
To help provide as much time as possible for construction, we have been given the green light to end our lab courses early. My microbiology course will finish a week or so early, and is actually done in the lab. We will finish the semester using VirtualUnknown(TM) Microbiology to accomplish much of the same work in simulation that we would normally do in the wetlab. Dr. Benoit is similarly finding ways to complete his courses’ use of the Micro lab ahead of schedule. Edvotek kits for his immunology course have been a lifesaver! Dr. D’s work in the genetics/molecular lab will likewise wind down in the next couple of weeks, and her headstart on packing nonessentials is well underway.
Like trapeze artists using perfect timing to leave one swing in order to catch the other, we are doing all we can to help the construction folks move in and complete their work easily and quickly. Then, we hope to be able to complete the maneuver by moving back in during August.