Herein, I will highlight progress in introducing internet-based technologies into a majors-level introductory biology course. First, we have measured dramatic increases in personal interaction between professor and students as a result of introducing Instant Messaging and online office hours. Most surprisingly, we found that in-person student visit during office hours also increased following the introduction of Instant Messaging. Thus, online student-teacher interactions help break down the barriers that prevent students from seeking out their professors in person.
Secondly, in an experimental section of Principles of Modern Biology II (Bio104), we introduced the use of pre-recorded Voice Over PowerPoint™ (VOPP) to deliver video lectures in place of selected lectures, normally delivered in class. This was run as a case-controlled study involving an experimental section and a control group (traditional lectures). We found that through the semester, student use and perceptions of video lectures evolved, aided by periodic student-led discussions. Comparisons of student performance, both in the course overall and individual exam questions directly covering material delivered by video, revealed that internet-delivered video lectures prepares students for exams as effectively as in-class lectures. SALG surveys also revealed that the majority of students find this to be an effective way to learn course material and many reported that they would often pause, rewind, and even watch the entire videos multiple times.
Lastly, we will introduce how educational modules freely available on Visionlearning.com can be integrated into a variety of science courses to facilitate distance and blended learning. This modular content is easily customizable into a “my classroom” context that incorporates student-teacher communication functions, quizzes, and assessment, if so desired. The high-quality, media-rich, peer-reviewed content is written by experts and can be used as a supplement, partial replacement, or even complete replacement of a traditional textbook.