Highlighting essential concepts within an online community of learners

Author Information
Author(s): 
Oliver Grundmann
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of Florida
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

The use of an online tool allows learners and instructors to visualize the learning process and collaborate on creating an online peer-reviewed learning community

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Learners initially respond to questions posed by the instructor individually by highlighting text or parts of complex graphics and commenting, afterwards all individual responses will be visible to the whole community thus allowing peer-review and consensus building among the learners while visualizing the learning process to the instructor to provide feedback and insights.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Over the past 3 years, all students enrolled in the required course “Fundamentals of Medicinal Chemistry” as part of the Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Chemistry completed a final assignment using the online platform HyLighter to apply the concepts taught throughout the course. The assignment asks students to answer a number of questions related to a drug discovery and development process which they learned about throughout the course but which also required them to conduct independent research using the necessary online library resources and databases available.
This final assignment incorporated all aspects of the course and initially focused on the individual capacity of each student to apply concepts and conduct research. However, after the assignment deadline, all individual responses were made available to all students thus giving them the opportunity to compare, contrast, and peer-review each other’s responses. This allows for establishing a community of knowledge where consensus is reached through review. The instructor is able to comment and contribute thus fostering further discussions. This concept has the following benefits in the learning process:
• Every student initially applies the knowledge they gained throughout the course thus allowing the instructor to evaluate each student individually.
• The instructor can evaluate where each student stands in terms of knowledge acquisition and transfer of knowledge from the course content to a novel situation providing for a close modeling of real world encounters.
• The individual responses also provide a measure of how well the instructor was able to convey concepts and thus can serve to improve the teaching methodology in the future.
• All students work together on finding a consensus in the end allowing for critical thinking skills to be applied and a group effort that builds a knowledge community where students help one another to understand concepts.
• Students are finally graded individually on both their answers and their involvement in the peer review process.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Students in their anonymous course evaluations have repeatedly pointed to the HyLighter assignment as the most enlightening and worthwhile exercise in the course which relates to the student satisfaction pillar. Over the past years, it has also resulted in a number of improvements to the course material for the instructor that has increased the learning outcomes and learning satisfaction for students by introducing new concepts and utilizing additional tools that increase the gained knowledge and understanding of important concepts. Another important pillar addresses by this practice was the access component since the HyLighter application is free of charge to academic institutions and can easily be accessed by students and instructors.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

A free account for the learners and the instructor on the HyLighter platform.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Free of charge to academic institutions and for educational endeavors, initial set up of activity may take a few hours of extra instructor time.

References, supporting documents: 

Graduate Distance Education Programs in Forensic Sciences, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and Clinical Toxicology for Working Professionals: An Evolving Concept with Practical Applications, O. Grundmann, D. Lebow, in National Science Teachers Association Exemplary Science Program monograph series, Robert Yager (ed.), NSTA press, 2013

Social Annotation to enhance Learning and Assessment in higher Education (book chapter), D. Lebow, D. Lick, H. Hartman, C. Dalglish, O. Grundmann, in Educating Educators with Social Media, Charles Wankel (ed.), Emerald Publishing, 2011

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Dr. Oliver Grundmann
Email this contact: 
grundman@ufl.edu