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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Update on games and vodcast for orgo class

The first two weeks of the Spring quarter are now over. Here is an update of my organic chemistry CHEM 241 class.

1) We had the first Unreal Tournament (free version/no weapons) race of the term on Friday. Out of 110 students, 13 showed up. This is about triple the average from last term. Most students brought their laptop. A few others who either had Macs (no educational UT version as far as I know) or did not have laptops and notified me in time borrowed a tablet PC. We had some problems with the wireless, but by passing around a memory stick, everyone was set up within 30 minutes. It helped that experienced students gave a hand to the novices. Next time it should only take 5 minutes for these students to set up with a new map since the software will already be installed. The race was won within 4 minutes but most of the students still tried to finish. The competition and prize are really just a non-coercive device to get more students to use the mazes to practice the class material. Like last term, the winner draws a prize at random. There is an equal chance of winning a video ipod, molecular model set, book or consolation prize.

2) I have had a few students help me with the vodcast for the class. Right now the theoretical part is finished and available publicly (click on iTunes icon at the top of the class blog). The pdf files, mp3 podcast and m4v vodcast are available from inside of iTunes. Flash screencasts are also still available from the blog but many students with dial-up or other access problems can't use them conveniently. I have also noticed that sometimes the streaming Flash stalls in the download, even on Drexel campus. I also learned from talking with students about their experience (another great benefit of running workshops instead of lectures) that some have hacked a way of downloading the Flash files from the browser cache. All of these factors are pushing me to advocate the vodcast through iTunes as the best way to access the lectures, even if the video quality is slightly worse than the Flash screencasts. We'll see how it goes over the term.

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