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Overcoming the Challenges of Remote Instruction: Using Mobile Technology to Promote Active Learning

Cite this: J. Chem. Educ. 2021, 98, 3, 833–842
Publication Date (Web):January 15, 2021
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.0c00992
Copyright © 2021 American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.

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    Abstract

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    During the Spring 2020 semester, many institutions abruptly transitioned their courses from face-to-face instruction to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To address the unique challenges posed by the remote teaching and learning modality, our department used mobile technology to adapt empirically validated instructional strategies for use in our remote courses. At Merrimack College, all faculty and students have iPads and Apple Pencils, and the members of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have incorporated this mobile technology into all of our course offerings. Our continued use of this technology eased the transition for both faculty and students by promoting course continuity and decreasing the cognitive load imposed by the transition. Survey responses suggest that students appreciated the structure provided by scaffolded course materials and synchronous class meetings, which helped keep them engaged in their chemistry courses. Coupling active learning instruction with the Zoom video conferencing platform allowed students to connect with the instructor and other students; this was highly valued by our students. Overall, we can conclude that universal access to technology, creating community using videoconferencing software, and intentional pedagogical choices to incorporate active learning created a positive learning environment for students.

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