Can iPod Touches Help Students Learn Nueroscience?

In the spring of 2010, liaisons at the University of Richmond’s Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology teamed up with professors interested in mobile learning by providing iPod touches and microphones to proposal-winning faculty. Allison Czapracki, technology liaison to the sciences, guided biology professor Dr. Linda Boland and her students in finding relevant neuroscience applications and podcasts, setting up a flash-card system used on the web and iPod touches, connecting them with a digital storytelling class, and using discussion forums to reflect on and evaluate one another’s digital stories.

Did students think that using the iPods for course-related work helped them learn the material better, or were they just another flashy device? Were students more engaged with the subject matter? Did the students benefit from creating neuroscience digital stories, and was the investment in that project worth the professor’s and students’ time? Czapracki will share the results of this experiment and reveal Dr. Boland’s insights and lessons learned about teaching with iPod Touches.

Designing and implementing a drupal: can a biology geek and a computer geek begin to think alike?

We designed a website “Thinking Like a Biologist: Using Diagnostic Questions to Help Students Reason With Biological Principles.” This website is a Drupal installation that is designed to deliver information about an NSF funded project called “Diagnostic Question Clusters to Improve Student Reasoning and Understanding in General Biology Courses.” The original purpose of this site was to deliver information to faculty across the US that supports their use of new, student learning assessments for Introductory Biology and Ecology. We discovered several challenges in the design and implementation of our drupal. The biologists brought naïve ideas to the design table about the function and organization of an information delivery website. The computer scientist brought naïve ideas about biology concepts and education to the design table. We also knew that the purpose of this site may evolve and so design must be flexible enough to support changing needs. As a team, we taught each other enough of the ideas behind our work to work together. Trial and error in our work relationship, lead to a work model in which periodic, face-to-face work sessions were the most productive way to exchange ideas and implement the site. The project behind the site and the needs for the site continue to progress. We look forward to designing and implementing new functionality in our site this coming summer.