Possible topics for upcoming #microhangouts

After returning from a week away, and (almost) catching up on emails, I wanted to just share a few of the things that came up in our first #microhangout. There are a number of topics that (at least some) microbiology educators appear to be interested in discussing, including: best practises for teaching certain microbiology topics/concepts/techniques; how to foster integration of concepts (within microbiology, but also across other areas);  teaching evolution when students come from a variety of educational backgrounds/exposure to biology; aspects surrounding lecture capture (including privacy); effective use of class time; student attendance in classes (& posting of lecture slides in advance); use of clickers (personal or student response systems); case studies (e.g., see the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science website);  the idea of a microbiology education (virtual) journal club; and sharing educational resources. When I get a bit more organized, I’ll see about setting up a poll for choosing a topic for the next #microhangout to be held in the near future. (Let me know if there are other topics that might be of interest!)

I would also appreciate a chance to chat with some microbiology undergrads and grad students about microbiology (concepts, learning), from the undergrad/grad student point of view. Again, I need to sort through some things, but if you are (or know) an undergraduate or graduate student in microbiology who might be interested in this type of discussion, I’d love to hear from you!

When technology works (our first #microhangout)

We had our first #microhangout today! I really enjoyed getting to chat with other microbiologists (all of whom were hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from me, geographically). A huge thanks to the folks who participated!

I’ll likely post on some of the stuff we discussed (and topics for possible future discussions) soon. More generally, I just found myself reflecting on all the technologies we used in setting up and having our chat … Some early musings posted on Twitter to see who might be interested in a virtual meeting, a Doodle poll to find a suitable day/time, and Google+ Hangouts for the actual conversation (with some documents shared on Google Drive relating to our topic). It wasn’t all seamless – I’ve now learned that I must check and double-check time zones in Doodle, and there were some hurdles using Google+ Hangouts.  Still, within a few minutes of our start time, we had folks interested in microbiology education from Canada, the U.S.A., and the U.K. all having a conversation in real time.

When the technology works, and allows us to make these kinds of connections, communicate, and collaborate, it’s awesome.

Getting ready to try Google+ Hangouts

Google+ Hangout logoTomorrow will be the first Microbiology Educator Google+ Hangout. I’m a little nervous about using a new technology (especially given that I recently made a silly mistake with a technology I’ve used a lot over the past few years!!!), but am also keen to see if this works better than other online collaboration/conferencing systems, like BlackBoard Collaborate. (The maximum of 10 participants is one limitation that I can see with the G+ Hangouts – not an issue right now, though.)

To prepare, I’ve been trying to verify the email addresses of the folks who participated in the Doodle poll – I’ll need the email addresses to send invites. For anyone who’s interested, I’d be happy to do a “mini-hangout” later today or tomorrow morning, so we can test the system.

If you haven’t used Hangouts before, please visit: https://tools.google.com/dlpage/hangoutplugin to download the necessary plugin.

Here’s a post that seems to be a nice step-by-step of how to set up a Google+ Hangout: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/google-in-the-enterprise/quick-tip-set-up-a-google-plus-hangout-for-web-conferencing/

If anyone has suggestions or tips, please feel free to share them (here, or via Twitter or email) …!

CORRECTION: Microbiology Educator Hangout – July 31, noon (EDT) (which is 5 PM BST)

Apologies for my confusion – my Doodle time zone settings were off

Thanks to all the folks who participated in the Doodle poll (now closed) for our first #microbiologyhangout! Wednesday, July 31 from noon-1 PM (EDT)* was the only time slot chosen by all who weighed in.

I’ll post info about Google+ Hangouts once I’ve had a chance to learn (and play!) more …!

*Update – here are the times in various zones – let me know if I missed anyone!:

Windsor (Canada - Ontario)                     Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 12:00:00 Noon EDT UTC-4 hours 
Newcastle upon Tyne (United Kingdom - England) Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 5:00:00 PM    BST UTC+1 hour  
Edinburgh (United Kingdom - Scotland)          Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 5:00:00 PM    BST UTC+1 hour  
Montreal (Canada - Quebec)                     Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 12:00:00 Noon EDT UTC-4 hours 
Raleigh (U.S.A. - North Carolina)              Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 12:00:00 Noon EDT UTC-4 hours 
Hamilton (Canada - Ontario)                    Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 12:00:00 Noon EDT UTC-4 hours 
Glasgow (United Kingdom - Scotland)            Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 5:00:00 PM    BST UTC+1 hour  
Corresponding UTC (GMT)                        Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 16:00:00

Doodle poll now up for first microbiology hangout!

If you’re interested in chatting (online) about introductory microbiology concepts (including common misconceptions, troublesome knowledge, threshold concepts), please participate in the Doodle poll to decide on a day/time next week (July 31, Aug. 1 or Aug. 2):


Oh, and if anyone would like to help me test-drive the Google+ Hangout system earlier in the week, please let me know! 🙂

Google Hangouts for Microbiology educators – soon!

I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to other science/biology educators (as I recently was reminded, at WCSE2013 and the annual oCUBE UnConference). At the moment, I’m working on revamping my microbiology courses for next year, developing online versions of them, along with online resources. I’d like to do more with threshold concepts and addressing common microbiology misconceptions in my teaching, and I am sure that I’m not alone.

Twitter has allowed some interesting/useful conversations on microbiology education, but I’m thinking I’d like to chat with microbio educators beyond 140 character chunks. I don’t know how much interest there will be, but I plan to set up some Google Hangouts (or some other collaborative communication system) where we can discuss some of the educational issues/tips/questions that we might share.  I would also like to find ways of sharing some of what we come up with – being as open as possible.

I’ve mentioned this Twitter, and will likely email some folks who come to mind. If you’re interested in this, please drop me a line!