The Mobile Chemistry Classroom Cooperative

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The purposes of this paper are to:
• Make more chemistry faculty aware of instructional applications of mobile devices
• Describe some of the current projects and create avenues for possible future collaboration.
• Become the first step towards creating a network of chemistry faculty who will share their successes (and failures) in using mobile phones and tablets to teach Chemistry.

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The Mobile Chemistry Classroom Cooperative

  1. 1. THE MOBILECHEMISTRYCLASSROOMCOOPERATIVE (MCCC)Harry E. Pence, State University of NewYork College at Oneonta, Oneonta, NY 13861,pencehe@oneonta.edu and Antony Williams, Cheminformatics Team, Royal Society of Chemistry,U.S. Office: Wake Forest, NC-27587, williamsa@rsc.orgABSTRACT In the spring of 2012, the authors of this paper organized a symposium entitled Mobile Devices, Augmented Reality, and the Mobile Classroom at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia, PA. This symposium was held under the auspices of the Committee on Computers in Chemical Education. There was strong interest in this topic as evidenced by the number of abstracts submitted as well as the attendance at both of the sessions. At the conclusion of the presentations, Antony Williams suggested that we should seek ways to maintain the momentum from this event, by encouraging information exchange and cooperative efforts involving the symposium presenters as well as other interested parties from the broader chemical community. This paper represents a first step towards that goal. The purposes of this paper are to: Make more chemistry faculty aware of instructional applications of mobile devices Describe some of the current projects and create avenues for possible future collaboration. Become the first step towards creating a network of chemistry faculty who will share their successes (and failures) in using mobile phones and tablets to teach Chemistry.INTRODUCTIONIn the spring of 2012, the authors of this paper organized a symposium entitled Mobile Devices,Augmented Reality, and the Mobile Classroom at the National Meeting of the American ChemicalSociety in Philadelphia, PA. This symposium was held under the auspices of the Committee onComputers in Chemical Education. There was strong interest in this topic as evidenced by the numberof abstracts submitted as well as the attendance at both of the sessions. At the conclusion of thepresentations, Antony Williams suggested that we should seek ways to maintain the momentum fromthis event, by encouraging information exchange and cooperative efforts involving the symposiumpresenters as well as other interested parties from the broader chemical community. Most of theparticipants in the symposium agreed to participate in an online discussion of their papers to movetowards this goal. This paper includes a brief summary of these presentations.It is hoped that the online participants will join with the original presenters to explore how mobiledevices, both smartphones and tablet computers, might be used for teaching chemistry. Theparticipants in the online discussion might ask questions about how the various projects wereimplemented, suggest a next step beyond the applications mentioned, propose specific instructional
  2. 2. areas where mobile devices might be effective tools, propose cooperative projects involving one ormore of the presenters, or describe how they are using mobile devices for chemistry. The long-termgoal is to create a continuing dialogue among those who are interested in using mobile devices. Thefollowing sections are limited to the presentations from the original symposium based on theavailability of the presenter for this online discussion. In each case only the primary author is listed,based on who indicated they would be available for the discussion.THE PAPERSHarry E. Pence (SUNY Oneonta)introduced the symposium by discussing Mobile devices and thefuture of chemical education. Pence argued that more than half of the students in most chemistryclassrooms now own smartphones and/or tablet computers, and that percentage is growing rapidly. Useof mobile devices is now at the place where electronic calculators were a little more than a decade ago;many instructors are focused more on potential abuse of the devices than on the ways they will changethe learning process. Since most students always carry their smartphones, these devices providecontinuous access to web pages, podcasts, videos, and other instructional materials, including duringlectures. Mobile devices are also a powerful vehicle for using QR codes, markered and markerlessaugmented reality applications to create situated learning experiences. He asked whether chemistryteachers are going to respond to these changes or wait to be dragged into the future by our students.IM-Chem: The use of instant messaging to improve student performance and personalize largelecture general chemistry courses was the title of a presentation by Derek A Behmke from BradleyUniversity. Behmke noted thatprevious research has linked poor student performance with thedepersonalized feeling of large lecture courses. At the University of Georgia they have attempted toenhance communication by handing out 26 instant messaging (IM) devices to selected students in alarge (1500 student) general chemistry course. Teaching assistants monitored the messages from thedevices and informed the instructor when there were a lot of questions on a particular topic. Theyfound that IM-Chem participants had a mean course grade that was 0.14 GPA units higher than non-participants, probably due to the active learning environment created by the IM devices. Additionally,an overwhelming majority of participants stated that IM-Chem personalized the large lecture setting byproviding them with an unintimidating way to ask questions and individualized answers to thosequestions.Cynthia B Powell from Abilene Christian Universitytalked abouta Case study in mobile deviceusage: Mobile enhanced inquiry-based learning (MEIBL), a collaboration that involvedFacultymembers at three different institutions. Mobile devices were used to deliver podcasts coveringlaboratory techniques and conceptual information that provided vital modeling and scaffolding forstudents working in chemistry and biology laboratories taught with an inquiry-based curriculum. Theresults indicate that the electronic resources allow students to work more independently and writingsamples that were evaluated indicate an improvement in depth of learning across a semester. Studentsresponded positively to the mobile platform, and ~70% reported that the electronic resources enhancedtheir academic experience.
  3. 3. Autumn L. Sutherlin, also fromAbilene Christian University, discussed her work onBlendedbiochemistry: Using technology outside of class to better reach students in class. Sutherlinpointed out that Biochemistry is difficult because it requires not only the memorization, but also theinterpretation and evaluation of large amounts of material. She said that technology helped her tointroduce constructivist techniques into her Biochemistry I course. Students did assigned readingfollowed by Just-in-Time Teaching, including warm-up questions which they responded to onlinebefore class. The warm-up questions along with responses to clicker questions followed by PeerInstruction were used to guide class discussion. This helped the instructor identify the areas of contentwhere the students were struggling and to focus in on areas that require higher order thinking skills. Inconclusion, she observed that students not only liked peer instruction and just-in-time teaching, but thatit also allowed them to perform better on examinations.Mobile learning in organic chemistry: Discussion of the students role in the 21st centuryclassroom was the title of apaper given by Mai Yin Tsoi from Georgia GwinnettCollege.Acknowledging that todays students are very different from those of previous generations, sheand her colleagues created a student-centered, mobile learning environment in Organic Chemistry witha suite of electronic course materials which include videos, apps, and a social network. This project hasbeen underway for the past three years, and the findings thus far show that students bring a distinct setof needs and skills to the learning environment, which impact their use of the mobile learningmaterials. Some of these qualities, such as self-efficacy, attitude, and technology expertise, were foundto significantly affect whether students use mobile devices for learning Organic Chemistry.Antony J Williams of theRoyal Society of Chemistry presented a paper entitledPutting chemistry intothe hands of students - chemistry made mobile using resources from the Royal Society ofChemistry.The increasing prevalence of mobile devices offers the opportunity to provide chemistrystudents with easy access to a multitude of resources. As a publisher the RSC provides a myriad ofcontent to chemists including an online database of over 286 million chemical compounds, tools forlearning spectroscopy and access to scientific literature and other educational materials. Thispresentation provided a review of the efforts to make RSC content more mobile and thereforeincreasingly available to chemists. In particular it discussed their efforts to provide access to chemistryrelated data of high value to students in the laboratory and included an overview of spectroscopy toolsfor the review and analysis of various forms of spectroscopy data.Alex M Clark(Molecular Materials Informatics of Canada)discussed the current state of the art formobile apps for chemistry, and their use in an educational context in his paper entitled, Chemicalstructure diagrams, reactions, and data: Anytime, anywhere. The creation of chemistry-awaremobile apps presents a significant opportunity to enhance chemical education. Tablets and mobilephones introduce a level of convenience that makes them all but omnipresent. Access to chemistry-oriented learning material is of significant value, and taking it one step further involves providingcontent-creation capabilities. Being able to create, view, send and receive chemical data, and use it tointeract with educational or reference services, makes these devices powerful interactive learning tools.In her talk entitled, Engaging students in learning through the use of mobile webapps, Lisa B.Lewis of Albion College pointed out that our students are addicted to their mobile devices, and so are
  4. 4. we. She suggested that there was a way to take the obsession that students have with mobile devicesand harness it for education. Her talk described the efforts to create mobile web applications for thestudy of chemistry and English using HTML5 and Java. She described some examples of the webappsdeveloped for the study of acids and bases, including the design, format, pedagogy, and codingchallenges that were encountered. Students liked these apps because they allowed them to digitallystudy wherever they were, and felt that the value was equivalent to their online homework program.Using HTML5 to build immersive teaching materials, was given by Kevin J Theisen fromiChemLabs, LLC. Theisensaid thatmobile devices give students today access to a wealth oftechnology for interacting with digital information. It can be very enticing to take advantage of theseplatforms in classrooms. However, the ability to distribute information across the wide range ofdevices students may possess is a significant problem. This barrier restricts most instructors todistributing text and images, since they simply do not have the time to prepare and format courseworkfor all the existing devices. HTML5 standards present a simpler approach to distributing dynamicgraphics and interactive data across all desktops.Doris I. Lewis(Suffolk University)discussed The Demise of the Textbook and the Rise of ...Something Else. Lewis noted that textbook publication and authoring are seeing a rapid transitionfrom a printed format to a variety of electronic platforms. The year 2012 has seen the release of theApple iPad text platform, a lawsuit against a Boston open-source text company by three majortextbook publishers, and the widespread adoption of Blackboard-based online learning systems incolleges and iPad texts in high schools. Science education content creators face an expanding varietyof options, with no settled, universal platform yet on the horizon.Lucille A Benedict fromTheUniversity of Southern Maine gave a presentation entitled, Integratingstudent-created videos into research papers. She pointed out that students increasingly createpersonal videos and photos, use multimedia (videos and photos) to supplement study materials,disseminate these on social websites, and generate QR codes embedded with a URL linked to thecontent. For this project, students in instrumental analysis created research papers that included shortvideos focused on research methods developed during independent research performed in the course.Videos were uploaded to YouTube and accessed from research manuscripts using QR codes.Evaluation of articles and videos was analogous to journal article review; papers that were accepted forpublication were incorporated into an online course journal. This project is an extension of publishedwork that had students create videos that were then QR coded and posted to instruments and labmanuals. This project reinforced that having students create a publication increases their engagementand their investment in the finished product.This was an exciting and well-attended symposium, followed by an active discussion of how this groupmight continue to cooperate on this topic and expand the dialogue beyond the current venue. Theorganizers thank all the speakers, as well as the Committee on Computers in Chemical Education forsponsoring the symposium and Cynthia B Powell for moderating one of the sessions.

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