Thursday, August 20, 2009

My talk at ACS FA09 on Social Networking Tools and Teaching Chemistry

Yesterday (August 19, 2009) I gave my last talk at the American Chemical Society meeting in Washington. I presented on Using social networking tools a la carte for organic chemistry education: Wikis, blogs, Second Life, and more for the Symposium on Using Social Networking Tools to Teach Chemistry, organized by Laura and Henry Pence:
12:05 PM Wikis in chemical education: The best of two worlds
Laura E. Pence
12:25 PM ChemPaths: Learning to meander — an online portal to ChemEd DL resources for intrinsically linked learning
Justin M. Shorb, John W. Moore
12:45 PM ChemEd DL WikiHyperGlossary
Robert E. Belford, J. W. Moore, Daniel Berleant, Michael Bauer, Jon L Holmes, Kyle E. Yancey
1:05 PM Social media: Immersion and its discontents
Elizabeth M. Dorland
1:35 PM Using social networking tools a la carte for organic chemistry education: Wikis, blogs, Second Life, and more
Jean-Claude Bradley, Andrew Lang
1:55 PM SNS, IM, and textng vs. traditional e-mail and voice messaging as a means of facilitating instructor-student contact: Trends and habits of student usage, and techniques to avoid electronic overload (or withdrawal)
Robert B. Gregory
2:15 PM Faculty development, collaborative inquiry, and Web 2.0
Joanne L. Stewart
2:35 PM Are netbooks the next big thing in the chemistry classroom?
Harry E. Pence
2:55 PM Managing laboratory research data using cloud computing as an organizational tool
Harry E. Pence, Jacqueline Bennett
It was a really entertaining symposium. Laura Pence talked about using Wikispaces (the same platform I use) for student projects and emphasized how helpful it is to compare wiki page versions to evaluate each student's contributions. Justin Shorb presented on his work to wikify a chemistry textbook. Despite a broken arm, Bob Belford did a great job in presenting his Wikihyperglossary project. It marks up chemistry terms on web pages, similar to the approach taken by ChemMantis.

Liz Dorland provided a wonderful overview of how Second Life can be used from an educational standpoint, very much complimentary to the content I had on my slides. There is just so much content and so many projects now on that virtual world that it is difficult to appreciate without actually going in and taking a tour but sometimes a good talk can motivate people to give it a closer look.

Robert Gregory's talk was very funny and somewhat shocking: he gave out his cell phone and asked his students to contact him 24/7 - including 2:00 AM when he was sleeping. Joanne Stewart gave an overview of how inorganic teachers kept in contact using various social networking tools and valuable it was for both collaboration and support.

Harry Pence
gave two very humorous talks at the end. The most interesting point for me was his collaboration with Jacqueline Bennett, who used Google Spreadsheets to collect experimental results from her students. An example of that work recently appeared in Green Chemistry, 2009, 11, 166 - 168. This is especially relevant for our research - because we also use Google Spreadsheets to aggregate results - but her reaction involves finding the right solvent for mixing an aldehyde and amine and obtaining a pure imine as a precipitate, exactly the same approach for our preparation of Ugi products. Perhaps there is a future collaboration there.

All of the presentations were recorded and I will post a link when available.

Here is the summary of my talk and the recording:

Jean-Claude Bradley describes the use of social networking tools to teach undergraduate organic chemistry. Public free wikis can be used effectively to manage class information as well as serve as a versatile platforms to process student assignments and provide rapid feedback. Examples of using Second Life to deliver quizzes, play games and offer students an environment to create projects involving 3D molecules, spectra and posters are detailed. The continuously evolving role of blogs, podcasting, screencasting and newer faster interactive platforms such as FriendFeed will be outlined. New technologies create the need for new skills to be taught to students - some relating to networking and some involving knowlege of the language to navigate the chemical webspace (such as SMILES and InChI).

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