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Teaching Chemistry Online: Setting Bridges Towards Success

Carla Padrel de Oliveira, Fernando Caetano, Filomena Amador

Universidade Aberta, Lisboa, Portugal

Science is an important component of our European cultural In distance education concepts and ideas can be
heritage. It provides the most important explanations we have easilytransmitted through classic media. However making a The purpose of the graduate programme on Environmental Sciences,
of the material world. In addition, some understanding of the science course accessible and successful requires imagination. offered for the first time in 2007, is to promote and develop the
practices and processes of science is essential to engage with We are continuously seeking new ways to capture the attention skills and competencies to yield knowledgeable professionals in the
many of the issues confronting contemporary society. of students and create active learning environments, where topic of environmental studies that includes content concerning
minds are engaged and interests are nurtured. Natural Heritage, Environment and Health, Environmental
Teaching and learning science in a virtual environment
Management and Sustainability.
represents a great challenge both for teachers and students.

Chemistry is fundamental and everywhere in our modern society.

Learning chemistry gives you a unique perspective on understanding the world around you.
15 weeks course with 2 moments for assessment: week 6 & 13. Each assessment consisted
EXPERIMENTS of three parts: up to 3 experimental laboratory activities, open questions and problems
An important component - incorporation of hands-on laboratory experiences.
Redefine the approach to laboratory working online course; introduce a wider range of
The challenge of including hands-on activities in Internet courses can be
teaching and learning methods develop a set of learning experiences
divided into two parts:
vselecting meaningful activities
vmanaging those activities effectively.
Use of image/video to give feedback because:

Ø observations described by students although

correct not interpreted in the right way;
Ø need to overcome the difficulties encountered
by the students
Ø detailed explanation of some theoretical
concepts was necessary

Concerning the use of video, students highlighted some issues:
Ice-breaking – “I felt closest to the traditional university, as the computer and internet had disappeared and I was back to a
classroom. It was a way to get to know the teacher”.
Contents – “…videos were an huge added-value in the understanding of contents and corrections of mistakes made.”
Concept of how to do– a good help to overcome difficulties both with graphic
CONCLUSION representations and hands-on experimental activities.
Timing – appropriate moment to introduce this kind of pedagogical tools.
Use of multiple technologies and methods within a single course is the best way to meet the demands of the content, the
needs of students and the requirements of the teacher. Among the different and varied resources used, students have
almost unanimously reported that the hands-on activities in asynchronous learning network enhance their learning.
Successful demonstrations of hands-on activities have established a new benchmark for distance education. Laboratory Implement other resources such as virtual lab experiments in order to fill in a gap

exercises need not be restricted to computer simulations. Critics can no longer say "It can't be done." for better understanding the course contents in a way that enables the students to

This challenges online teachers and institutions to use these tools to deliver the richest educational opportunity possible interact, control and even design their own experiments.

to their students. Further attention will also be devoted to the use of this kind of videographic
materials, namely the appropriate timing, purpose and promotion of knowledge and

REFERENCES conceptual understanding of the contents.

AMADOR, F; CAETANO, F.; PADREL DE OLIVEIRA, C.; GONZAGA ALBUQUERQUE, L. (2008), Student Interactions in Formal ans Informal Virtual Spaces: Similarities and Differences (submitted)
OSBORNE, J AND DILLON, J. (2008), Science Education in Europe: Critical Reflections, A Report to the Nuffield Foundation
REEVES, J. AND KIMBROUGH, D. (2004), Solving the Laboratory Dilemma in Distance Learning General Chemistry, JALN, 8, pp.47-51