Dr Christopher Pudney, from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, discusses updating the computational techniques used by students to keep up with evolving modern computer power and modern practice in reality.
Tagged: Biology & Biochemistry
Dr Christopher Pudney, from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, discusses the benefits of using quick informal methods to gain student feedback for his teaching.
Dr Christopher Pudney, from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, reflects on his experience of recording lectures and discusses his rationale for doing so.
Dr Christopher Pudney, from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, considers the benefits and challenges of flipping in his teaching and how to choose what to flip and what to not flip.
The University has successfully run two Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); one on ‘Inside Cancer’ and one on ‘Sustainability for Professionals’. These MOOCs have attracted different communities of participants, as reported internally at Exchange! 2014.
Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a technique used to identify the characteristics of a network. A variety of SNA metrics can be used to detect the overall character of a network (density, connectedness, ‘small world’ and so on). In addition node-level metrics (one at the level of the individual participant) can be used to identify different types of participant (for example, ‘hubs’, ‘spokes’ and ‘links’).
This project has applied SNA techniques to these two Bath MOOC courses. The study has been mainly descriptive rather than proscriptive. The hypotheses that have been explored are that:
- The differences between the courses leads to measurable differences in the nature of the resulting network;
- These differences could guide the development of new MOOCs.
In order to explore these hypotheses, the courses have be compared using a variety of SNA metrics. The findings show that:
- A pedagogical design encouraging community driven (‘connectivist’) learning does indeed lead to measurable structural differences in a MOOC network. Thus, design of a MOOC needs to take into account the desired learning behaviour of the participants;
- We were able to identify network learning – in which conversations are driven by the community rather than by tutors. Thus, the role of community gatekeepers are key and these individuals can be identified and supported;
- There is some evidence that a more centralized MOOC becomes more community led over time. Thus, it may be important to redesign a MOOC over time to take account of the evolving participant behaviour.
The aim of this 2013-14 project was to generate large banks of applied numeracy Moodle questions to support the teaching of basic maths in Biochemistry and Chemistry. We employed and trained six students studying these subjects to create new randomised question banks in Moodle XML using PHP. Mathematical expressions were coded in LaTeX for MathJax, so that when displayed in Moodle, they would be fully accessible in all browsers, on small screens and can be magnified or read aloud if required. This method of displaying equations in Moodle is now the only available method at Bath. We have also produced the questions in a way that makes them fully accessible to disabled students by formatting the maths in MathJax.All the new questions were tested by students (although not all errors were picked up) and some of the new questions were used for formative and small-stakes summative assessment with Biochemistry Students. We have made the questions available through the top level of Moodle, and the XML and the PHP files through an online blog.