Franc Perdih, Krištof Kranjc*
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Večna pot 113, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia;
* e-mail: email@example.com
Lecturers can find (and use) an abundance of 2D teaching material (as figures in books, on-line sources available on screens etc.), thus these materials predominate in teaching practice. However, as we all know, molecules are 3D objects and the interactions between them take place in a 3D environment; besides we should not forget about the time component. Thus, to fully comprehend a structure of a molecule or a process (reaction, interaction) taking place between two molecules it is necessary to overcome the 2D world and step into additional dimensions. How can we imagine this? How can teachers help their students to imagine this? It is well known that this step from 2D paper (or screen) to 3D "real world" represents an enormous challenge and obstacle for the majority of students. Teachers thus often use various models, like conventional, made of plastic or wood, some of them being more advanced and using 3D printing to make their own models. But all these approaches generally present only static pictures ("frozen photos") of molecules, they are cumbersome, lack versatility, their production is time-consuming, expensive, and the final results may not be applicable for use at students' home or when courses are taking place on-line. Computer simulations of structure and interactions between the molecules can solve most of the above-mentioned drawbacks of classical approaches, thus a shift to dynamic 3D representations (models) is of paramount importance. Let's call this "molecular videos".
To conclude, we believe that the the "flat earth syndrome" is a very true problem in chemistry teaching, Many students have (or are used to) only depthless vision and therefore need “3D glasses” to understand many chemical concepts (not only molecular structures).
visualization of molecular structure
The proposed approaches toward development and application of 3D computer-generated models of molecules showing their structures and also interactions between them (including the time component of such processes) are of extreme importance for gaining profound understanding of the fundamental principles governing structure of inorganic and organic compounds and their reactions (which is a necessary fundamental knowledge to understand all further topics in these areas and in fields connected with them). However, teachers in HE rarely use such approaches, mostly they still use conventional models (if at all) and expect their students have above-average 3D comprehension, albeit it is self-evident that many lack exactly this crucial competence. This is also true at UL FKKT, where lectures of inorganic and organic chemistry are often conducted without recourse to models, due to above mentioned drawbacks. Thus, the proposed application of computer-generated models and development of an appropriate open on-line repository (library) for them would certainly encourage lecturers to use them whenever necessary and thus substantially improve their teaching performance.
Areas of initial application would be in the selected field of chemistry (organic, inorganic, and biochemistry) but would be in subsequent steps broadened to the other department of FKKT, where materials and polymer sciences, and chemical engineering would be included as well. With positive results achieved locally at our FKKT, we could proceed further, to the other faculties dealing with STEM disciplines in connection with molecules and their shapes (biology, physics, pharmacy etc.).
A. Promote awareness of importance of 3D visualization of molecular structures, their polarization and changes in time (depending on the environment) thus benefiting students learning at the HE level.
B. Developing a 3D visualization protocol to improve teaching effectivness of university teachers at UL FKKT and to promote implementation of this protocol in as broad areas as possible, representing a better alternative to the conventional (2D) representations of molecular structures. Upon completion of the microMOOC (to be prepared) teachers will recognize the benefits of computer generated 3D (interactive) visualization techniques and be ready to incorporate them in their teaching practice.
C. Teachers that will generate their sets of 3D models will be able to deposit them in a virtual open-source library enabling other participants sharing and using of all generated structures.
- to enable easy construction of personalized (tailored) dynamic 3D representations (models) of molecules, their interactions and transformations
- to improve the 3D perception among the users of such dynamic representations and increase the recognition of their importance
- to establish an open on-line repository of such 3D representations
To extend these representations to other STEM disciplines where 3D objects and their transformations are also relevant (i.e. topology, knot theory, structure of atoms and nuclei, quantum chemistry and physics, transformatons of elementary particles, astronomy, structure of the Universe etc.).
This CPD scenario describes a User case in which lecturers develop their competence in designing interactive teaching and how to engage and motivate students and how to facilitate discipline specific thinking and how to use blended learning and develop attitudes in supporting student development and enabling students’ well-being in a learning process and inclusivity.
In this CPD scenario the participants are using a very short open online course, a micro mooc (μmooc) and professionalize in a close connection to their own teaching practice (at their workplace) and meet in person on location with the training staff and with other participants.