BugOut! Pharmacy Learning Environment Wins Recognition

BugOut!We are extremely pleased to announce that the BugOut! interactive learning environment created by Meghan Jeffres of Roseman University and developed by our team here at the Sheridan Programmers Guild was recognized as one of three winning portfolios by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy in their 2013 Innovations in Teaching Competition.

From the AACP: “The purpose of the Competition is to identify innovative teaching/learning strategies and assessment methods.”

Meghan’s winning portfolio will be presented at this year’s AACP Annual Meeting on July 13-17 in Chicago. “The AACP Annual Meeting is the largest gathering of academic pharmacy administrators, faculty and staff, and each year offers 70 or more educational programs that cut across all disciplines.”

Congratulations, Meghan! We are proud to be a part of your success.

PhET Provides Interactive Learning for Chemistry

PhET does not stand for Physics Education Technology. Once upon a time it did, but not since they branched out into learning tools for other subjects like chemistry. The PhET team at the University of Colorado in Boulder has long set the standard for online simulations for the sciences.

Their Flash simulations provide learning opportunities both for the chemistry classroom and for the student at home struggling to understand a concept. I picked through their catalogue of free chemistry sims in order to review a selection of what they offer. Continue reading

And…Announcing our Learning Game Contest Winner!

Congratulations to DJ Adamson of Columbus, OH for being selected in our 2013 Learning Game Idea Contest. DJ is a young man who submitted a game idea to help students in learning the order of mathematical operations. We are pleased to award him with the prize, and offer our thanks for entering. DJ, we hope that you continue to cultivate your talent as a young inventor.

Sig Fig Rules!–Master Your Significant Digits Here (A Learning Game Contest Example)

[Edit 09.05.13] SigFig is now accessible through our primary chemistry learning web app, Study Putty.

In the preceding weeks we launched our Learning Game Contest, seeking submissions of science/math learning game concepts and offering the prize of a $100 Amazon or iTunes gift card along with the chance of seeing that idea implemented in a playable game. With the intention of demonstrating the sort of concept we’re looking for, and to show how your concept could become a working game, we recently published Sig Fig Rules! online.

If you have ever taken a chemistry course, whether in high school or college, you may remember the lesson on significant digits. If your response to being asked to identify significant and insignificant digits was, like mine, “Discrimination! Who am I to tell a number his existence is insignificant?” you, like me, might have benefited from a learning tool such as this. Continue reading

BugOut! Live — New Learning Environment Goes Online

For the last six months, in parallel with the research work we’ve been documenting here on our Learning Laboratory site, we at Sheridan Programmers Guild have been building some custom software for a truly remarkable customer.

Dr. Meghan Jeffres is an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Roseman University of Health Sciences in Henderson, Nevada.  She is a specialist in infectious diseases (ID).  She teaches courses in statistics and infectious diseases to pharmacy and dental students in a classroom setting and precepts pharmacy students and medical residents in a clinical setting. Continue reading

We Crave your Creativity: Learning Laboratory Launches Game Idea Contest

Enticed by that prize? Eager to admire the finalists?

<-You will be asked to supply your email (and that’s all) to follow our contest. We pledge not to use your information for evil: see our privacy policy tab above.

Or to learn how to submit your ingenious idea, click here.


How we got here
We’ve  spent the last six months exploring how learning technology is changing higher education at warp speed. And we now know for certain that learning technology can do much more than just help instructors organize course materials or students turn in assignments electronically.

Learning games can transform the time needed for memorization and skills development from drudgery to something approaching real fun.  Unfortunately, well-designed and engaging games for introductory college-level science courses seem few and far between.  We’d like to do something about that.

In search of creative ideas!
So we’ve decided to invite students (or anyone) from around the world to think creatively about games for practicing introductory science skills. We want YOU to dream up the learning game you wish you had when you were learning whatever you struggled with in the recent past.  You don’t have to be a computer programmer, education major, or a gamer to participate.
Continue reading

MOOCs: chaotic or chaordic?

Ami Erickson, one of the deans at Sheridan College, our local community college, recently participated in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) about MOOCs.  Although Erickson is a teacher and administrator at a relatively traditional bricks-and-mortar institution, one of her personal goals is to “identify, promote, and encourage opportunities to help [her] team excel in a dynamic process of progress and growth.”

So when she got the chance to participate in the online class put on by Hybrid Pedagogy, a “digital journal of teaching and technology,” she jumped onboard.  Then she wrote about the experience in a piece that appears on her own blog and was recently published in our local newspaper, where I happened to see it.

Read Ami’s own post if you want the details.  But I think her experience with a MOOC may be quite common.  On her first day, she wrote, “My initial impression following the introductions and comments by the approx 300 participants is that this is pure chaos.”  “But maybe this chaos will organize . . .

And it did. Continue reading

Ten Free Flashcard Sites to Flip Over

Image credit: semanda.com

The 21st century has been called the Age of Technology, but it might also be aptly dubbed the Age of Independent Learning. Online resources have made it possible for the motivated to learn just about anything online for free. Online learning can be scaled up to the level of taking entire college courses for free, or scaled down to make learning specific details easier.

Flashcards are one of the world’s oldest learning ‘technologies’ but, despite their simplicity, they can still often be an effective study tool. Now, though, you don’t have to amass a suitcase full of 3 x 5 cards . . . that upon graduation from college you may just not be able to bear to throwing out. (Though maybe I’m the only one who still has that suitcase stored away in a dark corner.)

At any rate, the following sites allow you to either generate your own flashcards or use flashcards created by other learners around the world. Learning anything from art history to the cell cycle has become easier! Visual learners are in luck as nearly all of these flashcard sites can incorporate images into personalized flashcards, and some even incorporate sound for the aural learners among us.
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Learning Activities: Put some fun into learning. Your students will thank you.

Image credit: newhanover.k12.nj.us

Research shows that play is incredibly important for early childhood development. Elementary school classrooms often ring with student laughter. However, we sometimes need reminded that the “serious learning” conducted at the collegiate level doesn’t, by default, have to be seriously boring or superbly stressful. College learning can also be fun, entertaining and engaging. Students’ knowledge retention rates have been shown to increase when learning games are implemented in class (Barclay et al. 2011).  Students play games such as Portal 2, — arguably a physics learning game in itself — on their own time to unwind. And yet, a learning game doesn’t have to have spectacular graphics or complex game play to be fun and effective. For example, The Blood Typing Game does both! The following resources highlight several aspects of electronic learning activities for use both in and out of class. By all means, if you get excited, create your own game. Continue reading