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This conference is managed by the American Society for Microbiology
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Based on my research question, I was curious to find about the research on how online/web-based instruction influences undergraduate science (Biology) teaching-learning experience. 

1. Steven Cunningham, Steven, McNear, Brad, Pearlman, Rebecca and Scott Kern (2006) Beverage-Agarose Gel Electrophoresis: An Inquiry-based Laboratory Exercise with Virtual Adaptation. CBE- Life Sciences Education. Vol. 5, 281–286, Fall 2006

I found this article very interesting because Kern et al not only developed this fun technique of BAGE to promote inquiry-based learning, but they developed the whole exercise of optimization of BAGE into an online exercise. They further evaluated the effectiveness of we adapted this laboratory process of progressive optimization to a Web-based format in which students had to achieve all the same steps of optimization by performing serial electrophoreses. And third, we evaluated the use of this entirely Web-based virtual laboratory exercise in high school and undergraduate biology courses. Students learned fundamental and practical principles of electrophoresis, while experiencing the essential inquiry-based process of optimizing a technique, and they also enjoyed it. Our findings provide a readily accessible, inexpensive, and intriguing technique for teaching electrophoresis and the progressive optimization of a laboratory technique. Limitations, advantages and disadvantages of the

2. Michaels, John, Allred Kelly, Bruns Christina, Lim, Wan, Lowrie, Jr, and Wade Hedgren. (2005).  Virtual Laboratory Manual for Microscopic Anatomy. The Anatomical Record (Part B: New Anat.) 284B:17–21.

Here the authors assembled a virtual laboratory manual; they call it VLM, which is a Web-based copy of a traditional laboratory manual, using digital technology –high-resolution cameras and expanded memory computers. The VLM is used to enhance traditional laboratory instruction in histology. For each reference in the VLM to either a histological slide or an electron micrograph, they included a hyperlink that would download digital images derived from the students’ glass slide sets or scanned electron micrographs. The VLM serves as an atlas of digital images for concurrent study of similar sections by light microscopy during laboratory sessions which can be accessed remotely as well. This resource is a supplemental resource as use of light microscopes is continued in laboratories by basing the majority of practical examination identifications on analysis of marked histological slides that require students to use their own microscopes. The VLM provides the convenience of a supplemental Web-based resource with high-quality images, yet allows retention of the many excellent traditional aspects of course.

This article was a BIG answer to one of my major query I was looking for as this is almost exact same resource I would like to develop at QCC. Actually I have already discussed the possibility of developing a similar resource in our department for the study of Histology in the Human Anatomy-Physiology course as well as studying various microorganisms by light microscope in Microbiology class. The authors analyzed students’ evaluation of the course to assess the benefits of VLM and found small increase in favorable evaluation as well as their grades, but otherwise the article doesn’t discuss any downside or other limitations of the study in their article. However, I am personally confident that as long as the digital/virtual microscopy lab doesn’t replace traditional lab, having it as an additional supplementary resource would be always beneficial.

3. Lundin, M, Lundin, J, Helin, H, and J Isola. (2004). A digital atlas of breast histo-pathology: an application of web based virtual microscopy J Clin Pathol; 57: 1288–1291.

This study was very similar to one described in the article #2, the only difference is it’s one step ahead of the previous. The authors developed an atlas of breast histopathology. By using a robotic microscope and software adopted and modified from the aerial and satellite imaging industry, a virtual microscopy system was developed that allows fully automated slide scanning and image distribution via the internet. Slides scanned at high resolution were archived on an image server. A publicly available website was constructed featuring a comprehensive virtual slide atlas. Users can view any part of an entire specimen at any magnification within a standard web browser. The virtual slides are supplemented with and without textual descriptions, for self assessment of the histopathology skills.

4. Maged N Kamel Boulos, Inocencio Maramba and Steve Wheeler. (2006) Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of Web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education. BMC Medical Education 2006, 6:41

This “Debate” paper was first-hand information for me which explained exactly what these new tools (or toys) really are. The authors have explored how these Web 2.0 applications would prove useful on the long run for virtual collaborative clinical practice and learning, based on the currently available initial online medical/health-related examples and literature about these tools. Along with introducing the power of these web-based tools in education, the article calls for need for research to be conducted to determine the best ways to integrate these tools into existing e-Learning programs for students, health professionals and patients, taking into account the different needs of these different audience classes. The article informs about the exploding examples of use of these tools in m-learning (mobile-learning) in health and medical education.

5. Selective use of the primary literature transforms the classroom into a virtual laboratory. (2007). Hoskins, Sally, Stevens  Leslie and Ross Nehm. Genetics Education: Innovations in Teaching and Learning Genetics. Edited by Patricia J. Pukkila.

This article is different from the previous articles I describe above. The authors describe a new pedagogical technique - CREATE (consider, read, elucidate hypotheses, analyze and interpret the data, and think of the next experiment) as a new method for teaching science and the nature of science through primary literature. CREATE uses a unique combination of novel pedagogical tools to guide undergraduates through analysis of journal articles, highlighting the evolution of scientific ideas by focusing on a module of four articles from the same laboratory. Students become fluent in the universal language of data analysis as they decipher the figures, interpret the findings, and propose and defend further experiments to test their own hypotheses about the system under study. At the end of the course students gain insight into the individual experiences of article authors by reading authors’ responses to an e-mail questionnaire generated by CREATE students.

Assessment data indicated that CREATE students gain in ability to read and critically analyze scientific data, as well as in their understanding of, and interest in, research and researchers. Authors claim that the CREATE approach demystifies the process of reading a scientific article and at the same time humanizes scientists. The positive responses of students to this method are provided at length in the article.

Though this reading assignment took me much longer than I initially thought I was surprised and overwhelmed by the realization that there is so much information out there!

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