Principles of Chemistry - A Case Study in Technology-Enhanced Learning

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

In 2015, a team of faculty, instructional designers, multi-media producers, project managers, and administrators at The University of Texas at Austin came together to create a fully-online, introductory chemistry course. This session will describe the design and development process, and share results from the initial deployments over the last year. 


Matt Lisle is the Director of Digital Learning Technologies at the Center for 21st Century Universities. He brings a combination of professional and academic experience in the fields of instructional design, web design and development, and content strategy to his work. His main professional focus is the creation and development of technology-enhanced learning experiences. Prior to coming to Georgia Tech, Matt served as Digital Course Design Coordinator at the University of Texas at Austin and as Creative Director at Enspire Learning. He holds a master’s degree in Instructional Technology from the University of Georgia.
Kate 'Dr. B' Biberdorf was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and German from the University of Michigan in May 2008. Shortly thereafter, she relocated to Austin, Texas to attend The University of Texas at Austin for graduate school. She graduated in May 2014 with a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry under the advisement of Professors Alan Cowley and Simon Humphrey. She is currently employed as both a Lecturer and the Director of Demonstrations and Outreach for The University of Texas at Austin. She is a general chemistry instructor and is particularly known for developing explosive demonstrations that excite undergraduate chemistry students. Outside of the classroom, she is often found at local Austin schools, promoting science education with her outreach program 'Fun with Chemistry'. Watch her demos live on the third Wednesday of every month on her monthly tv segment on We are Austin.

Extended Abstract

The course development process resulted in two custom-built LTI tools, the adoption of Open Educational Resources, a new video streaming platform, and more. Thousands of UT students enrolled in the initial hybrid version of the course, and the fully-online course launched in January 2016. 

Both the hybrid and fully-online courses featured a flipped format -- students completed assignments and activities asynchronously, then participated in synchronous active learning sessions. Throughout the entire experience, students were provided relevant activities, opportunities to collaborate, and meaningful and timely feedback from instructional staff.

This session will demonstrate the key components of the course design, including:

  • Guided Practice: This LTI tool aligns resources to activities, allowing the student to select their own path through the content using resources that work best for him or her. Behind the scenes, instructional staff can view reports on usage – helping them to further refine the resources being offered.
  • Countdown Game: This LTI tool uses games-based learning to introduce concepts at the beginning of each unit. The student completes vocabulary exercises to earn points and move up a class leaderboard. Instructors can access reports that highlight terms that are regularly missed within the game, and customize their synchronous learning sessions appropriately.
  • G-Chem Site: This freely-available website serves as the online backbone of the course. It hosts most of the course content, including reading, images, videos, animations, and simulations. Students are directed to content within the site via assessments, Guided Practice, and other course components.  
  • Multiple Video Formats:  Throughout the course, students were provided videos in multiple formats, including lecture videos, green-screen animations, and tablet videos. In many cases, one topic was introduced in multiple ways using each format. This allowed students to select the format(s) that best suited him or her.
  • Open Textbook: The course team created an open textbook using the OpenStax platform. The textbook could be viewed for free online using mobile or desktop devices, and could be downloaded in epub format for viewing on reading devices.
  • Streaming Office Hours: Students regularly convened for virtual office hours where instructional staff members answered questions and previewed upcoming materials.

We will also provide results and analysis from our initial deployments, including survey results and feedback from focus groups. Attendees will leave with concrete ideas of how to redesign large, in-person courses as fully-online learning experiences.