Chemistry students will soon no longer have to struggle with mixtures and formulas on their own. Virtual reality tutorials will soon be available to assist students with their chemistry woes.
Four faculty members were awarded a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation for FAMU-UP, a five-year program that strives toward higher development of education and technology.
Reginald Perry, a professor at the FAMU/FSU College of Engineering, is the project director of FAMU-UP. Dhyana Ziegler, interim vice president for sponsored research and director of university planning and analysis is co-director and the chair of faculty development for the program.
Ralph Turner, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Rosalind Williams, associate professor are also co-directors.
Ziegler said the idea for the tutorials came from previous experiences with educational technology.
The chemistry-based tutorials are under a pilot study with three chemistry classes. The virtual lab is available for testing in both CD-ROM and online format, through www.blackboard.famu.edu.
Cheryl Seay, executive assistant to Ziegler and coordinator of instructional technologies, said that tutorials are designed to assist students in labs that may be difficult to them. The tutorials break down the lab activities step by step and give the students a hands on experience.
Once the web tutorials have gone through the testing phase and adjusted to fit the findings of the research they will be made available to all students, said Joseph Roache, interim director of the instructional media center. Eventually there will be web tutorials for students in the School of Allied Health Sciences, Environmental Sciences Institute, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and more.
‘These research development components produce products that insure that African -American students and other people of color have the opportunity to be successful in science, technology, engineering. math etc…” Ziegler said. “It will help them to become major players in the new economy.”
The tutorials were initially video taped labs that were transformed by graphic design graduates, Mike Sparrow and Rodney Allen into virtual reality. The tutorials will allow students to study at their pace and to develop a greater understanding of the concepts taught within the subject they are studying. Ziegler said the developers of the tutorials aspire to eventually have the tutorials serve as supplements to textbooks. Danny Malone, a university computer specialist, and FAMU-TV staff also helped with development of the tutorials.
Roache said that the majority of students who don’t use tutorials have some type of fear about using web-based technology. To ease this fear, he and his colleagues plan to make it easier for students to use the tutorials by having self-help sections offered on the site.
Some students say that having tutorials available is a big step for the university in providing an outlet for interactive learning.
“I think it’s (the tutorial) good. FAMU is making a big transition we first had web registration and now we will be able use web tutorials,” said Miguel Smith, a third year computer information sytems student from Tallahassee, who plans to one day develop his own web tutorials. “The concept goes along with President Gainous’ goal of putting students first.”