When approached by their teaching assistants with the dilemma of overly large precepts, two co-instructors decided to be creative with the technology tools available to them. Rather than scheduling office hours to advise students one-on-one, Drs. Karen Malatesta and Phil Felton of Molecular Biology have discovered the usefulness of Blackboard’s virtual classroom for conducting online meetings in their MOL214-EEB214: Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology.
Students log on at regularly scheduled Blackboard sessions to ask and answer questions and to share a white board space. Professors Malatesta and Fenton pre-prepare images to insert in the whiteboard. Students could be asked to comment upon or complete the images.
A camera icon permits the instructor to capture a snapshot of the whiteboard.
All of the meeting conversations are archived, and many students use the discussions as an aid in preparing for their exams. Students can therefore benefit even if they cannot attend the online sessions. By downloading the archives, students can search through to find answers to most questions pertinent to the class. Although not all students are active online, all of them can benefit from the collective comments of the entire group. Of the more than 250 students in their class, as many as 30 have joined the online discussion at one time. Of those, they estimate that about a quarter are active, but all benefit by watching and considering the live dialogue.
Posing as a simulated student, Fenton typed in the Blackboard meeting window: “What’s the difference between transcription and translation?”
“Read the textbook” replied Malatesta.
Posted by Lorene Lavora