COOL4ED –  Delmar Larsen –  Chemistry –  University of California, Davis

COOL4ED – Delmar Larsen – Chemistry – University of California, Davis

October 9, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


[ Music ]>>My name is Delmar Larsen. My position, I’m
associate professor in the chemistry department,
University of California, Davis. We’re using the ChemWiki, which
is a project that I direct out of UC Davis and
we’re using it for both general
chemistry classes and physical chemistry classes,
specifically chemistry 2C, 2BA, 110A, and 107B, which
are upper divisional and lower divisional
classes respectively. My first exposure to OER
was when I was trying to find resources in order to
take the place of the textbook that we used for
chemistry 107B class, the class I’m actually
currently teaching, that had a very poor textbook
but an extremely high price tag. When I was trying to specifically address
the high cost for my students I had used
a first edition textbook by very well-known
physical chemists and the textbook itself was
Rife with Errors and I felt that $200 was way too expensive
for such a poor textbook. I felt I could do
something, like replicate it, and then I started to
look at resources online. At that time Rice University’s
Connexions was essentially the only major resource that
had [inaudible] resources that we could pick and choose
from, but not large scale. Well, for one thing, I
should emphasize that the OER that we use, the
ChemWiki, is not designed as a canonical textbook
to take the place of the existing textbook; it’s
meant to be a platform for you to build textbooks to take the
place of existing textbooks. That gives us the
ability of being able to designing things
however we want. It also means that we have a lot
of different existing textbooks on our system, depending
upon the campus that uses it and such– as such
we have the content of the ChemWiki based off
of different categories. Textmaps, which are based off
of existing material, Wiki text, which are faculty based
or course based materials, and that’s what I’ll
be going to now. When I click on to the Wiki
text I can then go to a variety of different campuses; the
one that I’m at is U.C. Davis, which happens to be here
and these are a variety of different classes that we
have used it either exclusively or partially, either by
me or by other faculty. When I go to Chemistry 2C
class this is the class that first did a pilot
as an exclusive textbook; it’s a class of 500 students. Two years ago this is the
general structure of it and it’s formulated in order to
follow the textbook of the class in multiple sections on it. There are two aspects
that make it– mini aspects that make it
interesting and different from a conventional textbook. The first one would
be, you know, you can access the
textbook however you like, and this is in the
case of looking at unit one chapter
19.1, Electrode Potential and Their Measurement, and
you can see it’s typeset to be as close to possible as
a conventional textbook. In fact some of the
material that we have does– did come from conventional
textbooks that we got permission in order to integrate
it into the ChemWiki. We include videos, for example,
this reaction right here between copper sulfate and zinc. I’m not sure if I
should play it or not. That’s fine and dandy and it
matches it, but we are more of a textbook slash learning
management system and so if you go we have this
aspect which is unique to some textbooks,
which we call an agenda, and this gives us the ability
as we present our class and our lectures we’re able to actually identify exactly
what we want the students to be reading at any one
time and formulate it lecture by lecture base where they can
then know exactly what their reading is at any one
particular time in addition to their homework
that’s put on to it too, which we have fully
integrated into the system. That is exactly right. In order to be able to
generate the capabilities of allowing faculty, in order to
make their Wiki text based off of their own independent
interests, the faculties as a large interest
on their campus or the students capabilities
they need to have, topics discussed in a wide
range of different levels. That means that you don’t
have one textbook you need to have 20 textbooks
in a variety level and that’s what’s delayed our or slowed our development
up until recently. We have somewhere in the
order of 18,000 pages of chemistry content from basic
high school chemistry all the way up to graduate
level classes. So we place an effort, in order
to try to construct a site that would be used
as close as possible, at least in the beginning,
like a conventional textbook, because the adoption of the textbook is primarily the
purview of the faculty member and we didn’t want
to deviate greatly from how conventional
textbook would operate, although we have lots of
flexibility to doing that. So we don’t use it quite as
strongly in the class as we did. There are certain
exceptions when we have– we have access to various
types of visualizations and we’ll show those
online in like University of Colorado’s FET programs
or chemical communications, Chem Connections, or
Chem Collective, sorry, at Carnegie Mellon University
where we can actually play around with different
types of visualizations. However, one aspect that we
do do in class, and I did it for a– an upper divisional
physical chemistry class. This is our first
quarter physical chemistry for life sciences; it’s
a quantum mechanics class and I would give my
lecture on the chalkboard but at the same time I let
the students have access to the actual lecture
notes available. So this would be posted
online so when that– or on the subsequent slide–
projector so they had access to being able to see where I
was going with my notes and then if the equations were
not very well described on the board they could
then take a look at them on the notes, and then
obviously go to the notes as needed after the fact. And then because it was online
we have the capabilities of introducing three
dimensionality, the Java Scripting capabilities,
or motions of animation like what we have on
the screen right now. Yes, actually that was
a primary mechanism when we constructed the site
seven and a half years ago where students would
actually, via extra credit or via forced credit in classes, contribute to the
development of the site. That sort of crowd-sourced
approach following Wikipedia’s approach, which we felt was
very beneficial because had lots of students in order
to contribute. The problem that we found when we approached this was
it was converging very slowly into a reliable source that we
can then use in the classroom. We then switched to a
slightly different mechanism, whereby students would
facilitate the integration of existing content that we
got permission to integrate into the ChemWiki and they go
through the legwork in order to put things together
and typeset in order to make everything
work out right. But we still use students
in classes in order to do specialty things, like
for example, formulate questions for our homework
database system, much of which is closed off
from public view in order to preserve the integrity
for exam questions and homework questions. Some are also available. We’ve used students in
order to construct videos in order compliment some of
the aspects of chemistry. And we use it in a variety of
different classes as assignments in order to augment that
and move things forward, but I would say about 20% of
our content is student driven, 80% is faculty driven from
a variety of institutions that students then
facilitate this integration. Well we had the ability
of being able to address the corresponding
errors that we found in that class, that
textbook, and we have done so; in fact the class
that, like I mentioned, that initiated the whole
ChemWiki I’m teaching for the first time in a decade, or since the ChemWiki
was started, using the ChemWiki this quarter. And so far we’ve had
very positive in feedback in regards to its utility. It has a very– in online
resource it has a very non-linear approach, in order
to do things you can bounce around as you see fit. One of the other
capabilities that we have, and I haven’t pulled it up
here, is the ability in order to track student study habits
as they study, when they study, and how that study can
result in either positive or negative performance on exams
or other learning outcomes. And these are aspects that
are not explicitly included in the conventional
paperbound textbook. And– and they could access–
this is particularly important, they can access the
material anywhere they want. For example, when I walk through
our quad I’ve had students come up to me and just pull out their
phone and pull out a question that happens to be on
their homework or so and ask how do you address this and this is students don’t
always carry very large textbooks around with them,
especially when they have a lot of them, in order to
be able to do that, so ease of access I think
is a very important aspect. Thirty percent of our traffic
is actually through mobiles– mobile phones, not via laptops. I’m familiar with that argument. I don’t have any data– hard data in order to
argue one way or the other. The traffic that we’re able to get via our Google Analytics
gives us a lot of information about how often students
identify or pull up a page and then how long that page
stays active, depending upon– but we haven’t tried to go
to that page in order to see if we can identify
maybe a burst analysis or something like
that– lay down. I’m not sure how effective
it would be able to do that without using a– an
I tracker based system, and this would be an example of
the sort of traffic statistics that we can get from
using the ChemWiki showing that right now 716
students are currently on the ChemWiki reading
in the class. We’ve been pretty happy with
a lot of positive responses that we got off of social
media in regards to that, and there’s this- -you just have
to go to Facebook or Twitter and a search on ChemWiki
and you’ll find thousands of positive comments in
regards to the project, and that’s really affirming
that we’re doing [inaudible]. There was something that I
find particularly interesting; in the last year or so I’ve
gotten a lot of comments that have focused on how my
website can save their lives, which I consider relatively
facetious, and I got one of those comments last year
from a student in Zimbabwe, and she said this
website saves lives. And that’s fine; I thanked
her for the shout out. You know we probably think
it more likely saves sanity than actual lives and I
thought that was the end of it. She responded quite quickly
lives exclamation point; you’re saving my future,
hence improving my life and saving any potential
from being wasted, which I think is very telling
given Zimbabwe isn’t the most financially developed to be
able to invent infrastructure for their– their system like
other more developed countries, that this– the resource that we’re constructing it
has a very positive benefit for many students that
we don’t always learn about via conventional
textbooks or OER and that has certainly
invigorated and supported our efforts
in order to move forward. Well first I’d say that
our growth is exponential; our growth has been exponential
from the very beginning and that’s one of the reasons
why our project is responsible for one third of all web
traffic to U.C. Davis. Our goal, when we got our recent
NSF grant for [inaudible], was to expand the success of the
ChemWiki into these other areas; and so MathWiki, BioWiki,
StatWiki, GeoWiki, and StatWiki, and we just have some
emerging four more, which includes this social
science Wiki, the medical Wiki and engineering Wiki and the
fourth one is still we’re deciding on what
that’s going to be. In order to build the
whole entire hyper library where content is coupled
from one site to another site as seamlessly as possible, such that this whole
resource would match about a quarter billion
visitors a year. I think that’s still
quite reasonable based off of our development and
experience on these things. The key point, in order
to emphasize here, is that if we wanted to make
an OER textbook that was able to take the place of the
general chemistry textbook, or even a general chemistry
specific class textbook, we would have been done
years and years ago. We’re making an environment
that’s exceedingly more powerful, exceedingly
more flexible and corresponding more useful. And when I mean expand I mean
not just general chemistry but all the different
phases of chemistry from pre-university level all
the way up to graduate level, and then, you can call
that vertical integration, then you have the
horizontal integration where you have content
from multiple fields that pull together in
an integrated fashion, because we want our students to
be able to integrate the classes that they learned; so it’s
not just here is one topic and here’s another topic,
but how they blur together. I think our resource, our
textbooks, should reflect that sort of integration that
we want the students to have. A typical example that I give is if a student is learning
enzymatic catalysis in the BioWiki class, in
order to master that they need to understand chemical
kinetics off the ChemWiki and understand the
chemical kinetics you need to understand some aspects of differential equations
off the MathWiki. By having an integrated
fashion that’s as comprehensive as possible and interlinked
you can actually provide the resource necessary in order to facilitate a much greater
integration of these fields and also a greater appreciation about how these fields
are put together. That is our general goal. We are certainly developing
content, we are working on online homework database
system, again completely free, and we are going to be
testing that out next month. We are still building our
homework database system– I’m sorry, our homework database
that populates that system, again freely available and
a variety of other aspects like three dimensionality
and other things that we’re pursuing
on multiple levels. A lot of our effort
is also focused on corresponding adoption,
not just content construction under the belief that when we
build a resource that’s useful in one class, in one campus, that that resource can be
coupled into another campus and a specific class there. So along those lines when
faculty are interested in order to adopt the ChemWiki
or any other wikis in the hyper-library project we
will try to bend over backwards in order to facilitate that and
even do as much of the work– leg-work possible in
order to make that work. So this is not just a here’s the
site and make it work for you, but contact me and we
will make it work for you and if necessary we’ll even
have students assigned in order to build the content, which
is currently what we’re doing, for example, in a
micro-biology class over in Sacramento
City Community College. [ Music ]