Ancillary fee anxiety

AnxietyCat Ancillary

Anxiety cat is anxious about ancillary fees

I had originally planned to write (and actually wrote a draft of) a post to explore my questions and concerns about asking students to pay for access to a web-based classroom response system (WBCRS henceforth), like Lecture Tools (now integrated into Echo 360), Top Hat, or Learning Catalytics. My major concern? These tools are basically ways to teach huge classes better, to bring in the interactivity and communication aspects difficult to achieve in the large class setting – kind of a “large class tax” on students. (I’ve used Lecture Tools for several terms – see my previous posts here, here, and here.)


I’d hoped to gain some clarity,  maybe spark some conversation with colleagues about the issues relating to using a WBCRS at a cost to students. As part of my thinking, I considered some of the other ancillary items we routinely ask students to purchase (i.e., not usually included in their tuition, but required for a course). I was originally thinking that a teaching tool is really different from a required textbook, dissection kit, safety glasses, or a lab coat. Now I’m not only concerned about the ethics/fairness of asking students to purchase licenses for a WBCRS, but also requiring textbooks and disposable lab coats! Read the rest of this entry »

Pervasive, persistent, problematic “prokaryote”

There are reasons to avoid using “prokaryote” in biology teaching.  So, why are so many biologists resistant to the idea?

Why not use “prokaryote”?  Norman Pace published a one-page piece in Nature, “Time for a change” that raised concern about use of “prokaryote” (in education), and the common biology textbook paradigm of splitting organisms up into prokaryotes vs. eukaryotes. Pace highlighted many of the differences between archaea and bacteria, discussed evolutionary relationships/history, and made a case for avoiding use of the term prokaryote with students.  (Check out the 2005 article by Jan Sapp discussing the history behind the prokaryote-eukaryote dichotomy, too.) Pace expanded on this with a lengthier educational piece in 2008.

Read the rest of this entry »

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!

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