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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Start of Fall Term 06

We have now entered the third week of our Fall 06 term at Drexel. This is usually a good time to take stock of how things are taking shape. I am teaching the CHEM 241 introductory organic chemistry class with 170 students and some special online only sections of CHEM242 and CHEM243 to about a dozen more students.

1) Basically things are proceeding about as well as the Spring term. Most students got their technical issues resolved quickly in the first week either by coming to the workshops or through email. With the lecture vodcast now available via a "subscribe through iTunes" button, it is easier than ever to get everybody on board quickly.

2) Based on talking with my colleagues over the summer, I decided to add questions in the quizzes and tests that evaluate the student's grasp of curly arrows. This is one of the very basic concepts in organic chemistry that is needed to make sense of chemical reactions. I had already started to do this in the Unreal Tournament races in the Spring but I had not yet used these in tests. I tried using the bitmaps used in UT directly into WebCT quizzes but, at 66K a piece, there were problems with displaying all the pics in the multiple choice. After experimenting with number of colors and picture size, I found that simply saving the bitmaps as jpegs from Paint reduced the file size to an average of 10K. These loaded quickly and without problem in WebCT. This is good news because it means that we have a simple and general mechanism to import existing UT doors from any subject area.


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