School of Chemistry
Faculty of Science
University of Bristol
Moodle, Flash, Bespoke Software
Dr Paul Wyatt, Paul.Wyatt@bristol.ac.uk
Practical teaching is a very important part of many undergraduate degrees and a large amount of resources and staff time is put into this. However lecturers were finding students turning up to labs unprepared, with little idea of what they would be doing. This meant they did not get the full benefit of the session, and potentially created safety issues if e.g. hazardous chemicals were being used.
In 2005 the School of Chemistry became a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and was awarded a large grant from the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE). With the money, the School invested in new state of the art laboratories. However the broader aim was to transform the student experience of practical chemistry. Central to this aim is the Dynamic Laboratory Manual (DLM), an interactive online lab manual.
The main features of the DLM are:
Student feedback about the DLM has been extremely positive. Students find it incredibly useful and feel a lot more prepared when they arrive at practical classes.
The approach has been adopted by other Schools and Faculties at the University.
Whilst these resources are highly valued by students, they require a huge amount of input (especially staff time) during the development stage. The issue of ongoing responsibility for maintaining the site also needs to be considered during the planning stage, particularly if there is no specific funding for this.
ChemLabS has online demonstrations sections with examples of typical pre-lab material and questions.