Friday, October 06, 2006

Interview with Jean-Claude Bradley


Interview with Jean-Claude Bradley

Woman 1: Hi are you there?

Jean-Claude Bradley: Hey how are you?

Woman 1: I'm good how are you?

Jean-Claude: all right.

Woman 1: Thanks for meeting with us.

Jean-Claude: Yeah, no problem.

Woman 1: Just so that we have the assignment recapped here. The students have looked at your web sites and have looked at information that has been written about you. And now they are going to talk to you and clarify some of the information that they need to gather for a summary they are going to be putting up on a wiki.

Jean-Claude: Sounds good.

Woman 1: Ok? So we're going to start off with Matt. I'm actually going to sit over on the other part of the room because it is their deal from here on out. Ok?

Jean-Claude: all right.

Woman 1: Thanks a lot for doing this for us.

Jean-Claude: No problem.

Woman 1: all right take care. Here's Matt.

Matt: For I guess the serious question. What was your motivation behind making this project like open source science and what was your thinking behind doing it that way?

Jean-Claude: Well if you work in a lab for a couple of years one thing you realize is almost everything that you do doesn't get published because the experiments are either failed or they're sub optimal in some way and they have to be repeated. And they also have to make a story. So even though you may have done a reaction and we do organic chemistry so it's all reactions that actually worked if it doesn't fit into a bigger story that you can write up you really can't publish it. So what we're doing is we're not avoiding publishing normal articles it's just that we're basically putting our lab book on the wiki directly so that people can benefit immediately on a day to day basis.

Matt: Why do you think that open source science is going to be helpful in the future as compared to today's science broadcasting terms.

Jean-Claude: Well again I don't think it's an either or proposition we're not really replacing what people are doing right now. We are just adding to it. We're just making stuff available publicly that is normally not available. And there is a couple of reasons for wanting to do that. One of them obviously is you want people to understand what you're doing, be able to comment on it and you being able to help other people with their experiments. But another thing that I think is going to become important in the next few years is the integration with automation. So that right now my students are publishing experiments so that over time hopefully we will be getting machines to be publishing and reading experiments. So in terms of the....

Woman 1: Jean-Claude, are you there?

Jean-Claude: Yup.

Woman 1: all right we lost you for a minute. I'm not sure what happened but we are back. Can you back up what you were talking about automation?

Jean-Claude: This is the question of what is going to happen the next few years?

Woman 1: Yeah. Can you start back there? Thanks.

Jean-Claude: Okay. Basically what I was saying that the way that we're doing things right now by putting all of our raw experimental data online right now it is basically people communicating with other people but the way that it's set up because you can publish the smallest experimental result that you can make we can envision a pretty easy way to move over towards having automatic systems, machines basically producing information and reading it. And that's just something that is much much more difficult if you think about using standard journal articles which are really written for a human beings. So that is really one of the big things that I see coming in the next few years. The integration of open source science with a lot of automation.

Woman 2: Hey. Currently about how many scientists are in your group at the moment?

Jean-Claude: I have. How many students are in my group? I have right now one graduate student that is working in the lab, Philippe. I have one undergrad James and another undergrad Lynn. And I have Dave who is working on the infromatics part of this. He doesn't do any of the lab work but he helps us create, if you've had a chance to click around our site you will see that there are various information feeds and he helps out with that. With the infromatics part.

Woman 2: Okay. And where exactly does your funding come from?

Jean-Claude: We don't have much funding right now. It is pretty much on a shoestring, that is one of the things that we want to rectify in the coming year. This is basically done on department accounts. Just very very small sources of funding. In chemistry you don't necessarily need as much money as you do for example if you are doing you know, war or any kind of Bio kind of war. So you can get away with a little bit less but yeah we definitely want to get funding in the coming year.

Woman 3: Ok, my question is how do you expect that because you are publishing everything on open source science how do you expect that to affect your funding and if its going to continue with any kind of funding?

Jean-Claude: Publishing open source is actually very, is not becoming expected from the, a lot of the funding agencies like NIH is expecting that if you receive money from them that you will put in open access within six months. Now that is not requiring it to be open source. There is a difference in open source you are making available everything. Every little piece of information you get out of your lab. In open access it's just you're making available normal papers its just that there available for free to the public. So I think that open source follows directly open access. I think that the funding agencies are going to be very receptive because they want what they are funding to be shared. It is tax payers dollars after all.

Woman 4: Ok, well I guess I'm next. I was just wondering if your project is successful how are you going to continue with animal testing and if you are even going to do that where you are now?

Jean-Claude: Well we're not going to be doing, we have an organic chemistry lab so we're not going to be doing any animal testing. We may do a little bit of in vitro testing but most of it going to be done with collaborators. Right now we're making a library of anti-malarial compounds and there are some people once we have the molecules made that are going to test it on red blood cells to see if it has any chance of inhibiting malaria. Those are all things that are going to be done by other people and they will have access to all of our experimental results so it should make collaboration a lot easier than it normally is.

Woman 5: Ok, my question is considering that open source science is a relatively new concept, how optimistic or confident are you in its success. Not just in regards of finding new ways of fighting malaria and other tropical diseases but also its success in gaining support and relevance in the scientific community as a whole.

Jean-Claude: Well it depends what you define as success. I don't think that all scientists have to adopt open source science for it to be successful. In fact it really requires very few people to have an affect I think because a lot of scientists are working on very similar issues, okay? So if you have on group that's working on AIDS research and they make all of there raw experimental data available immediately. That's going to be available before other groups publish using traditional methods. So the fact that that one group is participating in open source science affects a lot of other groups and they have to think about how they are going to be distributing their information because this is a form of publication so somebody can't come six months later and say that they were the first to do it. This will be in the record and they'll have to take that into account. So that's what's really neat about this is that you can have a pretty large impact with relatively few people doing it.

Woman 6: I have a question about blogs. I was wondering which ones you can trust and how do you know that they are reliable and then how do you know that people trust your blog and your information.

Jean-Claude: So a question about trust. I think you gain trust by redundancy. If there are many sources telling you the same thing then it's more likely to be true. You should never really trust any single source. Even a source that has been reliable in the past. People can make mistakes we've had that happen in our own group we'd been trying to do this reaction and we were using, ok so a question about trust. The basic thing about trust has to do with redundancy. If you have multiple sources telling you the same thing the odds of it being true are far greater. So even sources that are usually reliable are not always going to be because people make mistakes so you have to make sure you get as many possible different view points as you can. So you know, you don't follow necessarily just one blog, you have a dozen blogs that you listen to what everybody has to say about certain things and you can see if there are any out lyers if people think differently. And the other point is that a good blog will be linking to its sources. So if you write something as an opinion obviously there is no source for that but anything that you state as a fact has to be linked to something that will back it up. So that's really how you can tell. There isn't any single source that you can count on.

Woman 1: Why should people trust your blogs.

Jean-Claude: They shouldn't. They should follow everything that I say and see what my sources are and they should make up their own minds about if what I'm saying is making sense. You definitely shouldn't trust it just because I said it.

Woman 7: all right we're going to be going backwards a little bit because before you were talking about having little or no funding for the project so what kind of people can you expect outside of your groups who contribute to this project if there is going to be no money in it for factual research?

Jean-Claude: Well people that are doing different things will have their own funding that has really nothing to do with what we are doing necessarily. We're applying for funds to make chemicals. That's what we do in the lab. But if people are doing testing for example on malaria, they have their own funding and they have you know the info structure that's needed to do that part. So the situation about the funding is really not any different than any other kind of collaboration.

Man 3: all right my question is through open source science have you received any support from any organizations or met up against any resistance from anyone that is against open source science.

Jean-Claude: Yeah there certainly is a lot of resistance. In fact you can see some of that by some of the comments on my blog or with other people that are saying similar things that I am saying. You can see where some of the resistance is. But you know people who are resistant to this kind of procedure are not going to be doing it. So it's kind of irrelevant, we are really interested in interacting with people who understand why we are doing open source science and want to participate in it. Was there a second part to your question?

Man 3: Have you reviewed any support?

Jean-Claude: Yeah, there are people who have been coming in and commenting on some of our experiments.

Woman 1: You were talking about chemist without boarders when we lost your audio so can you talk about a synaptic leap and chemists without boarders?

Jean-Claude: Well a synaptic leap is an organization that is a non profit that is trying to coordinate open source science mainly linking biology, a lot of these people are biology links because that has some useful consequences to treat diseases and things like that. So these are just different groups that have their own software and their own experience and some people are doing science and other people are trying to coordinate and by working together I think that your going to get a lot of proper's out of it.

Woman 8: Going along with resistance and support do you personally find anything negative about using open source science on blogs, wikis etc.

Jean-Claude: Well I don't know that its so much negative I mean there are always challenges for example using a wiki. It's a little bit hard to tell if people are citing you especially if they're not using a wiki. The situation is a lot better with blogs but those are all things that we can deal with as long as we stick to the fundamental philosophy of making everything available as soon as possible. But so far there really hasn't been anything that has led me to question what it is that we're doing.

Woman 9: I have a question about challenges. What would you say was your biggest challenge with making this open source.

Jean-Claude: What was the biggest challenge?

Woman 9: Yeah.

Jean-Claude: I guess maybe convincing my students that is was a good thing to do. And that just took time. It took a while to figure out an appropriate format to work with. And to convince them to put their data in on the same day that they do it. If you keep a lab book sometimes you can wait a while before you put stuff in but if you're making this available ultimately you do have to input your data fairly frequently. We'd like it to be there the same day so people can comment. So that's probably been a challenge that I think has been overcome.

Woman 10: We also have a question about the patenting process and because you're using open source science has that caused more challenges in making your information more credible and making sure that you get the credit and your students get the credit for what happens and what goes on?

Jean-Claude: From the patent point of view, as soon as you disclose what you are doing you are not eligible to international patents. You still have a year in the United States to get just a US patent but that's not something that we have any intention of doing with UsefulChem. So the patent issue is a non-issue. As far as the credibility - again - if you are a chemist and you are looking to make a molecule and you find a procedure and it's explained through appropriate sources and it has the appropriate evidence to prove that you've done what you say you've done I think that any chemist would use it, because it's fairly easy to tell if something is competent or not just by reading it, at least in organic chemistry. I can't speak for all the disciplines but in organic chemistry it's pretty easy to tell if something is real or not.

Woman 1: And one last question.

Man 2: We were just kind of wondering - we've already mentioned critics of your open-source science policy. But what about critics of your chemistry work with malaria and about how you post that on open-source sites, like your blog? Have you had any criticism about that, like science writers or anything?

Jean-Claude: Well, science writers have been very kind. If you take a look at our blog, David Bradley, who is not related to me, has written some very nice things about UsefulChem and what it can do for malaria and that kind of diseases. This I can understand as malaria is not a very lucrative disease for drug companies because the people who are sick don't have a lot of money. So you are not going to get much of complaint from anyone who has any economic stake in malaria. If we are looking at other things they might be a little more resistance just from the science end, but so far it has been pretty positive. We'll see what happens down the road!

Man 2: Thank you!

Woman 1: All right, you are getting me back again. I'm going to try to facilitate a discussion. All right?

Jean-Claude Bradley: OK.

Woman 1: Let's actually a good segue way because the project that's been run over the course of this semester is.. they are going to be researching other factors that involve the treatment of malaria, AIDS or arsenic in drinking water. So, how do you feel from a science perspective, what are the scientific challenges to addressing any one of those diseases right now? What are the scientific challenges in the global community?

Jean-Claude Bradley: You mean in terms of the chemistry?

Woman 2: Yes, in terms of the chemistry and the science. Is it just that nobody is doing the research because there is no money in it, or are there other projects that are more important to the US government to fund?

Jean-Claude Bradley: If I understand your question correctly, the scientific problems, especially the chemistry ones is something that we discuss on the blog and try to get as much feedback from scientists as possible so that we can address them. Right now, we are making molecules based on the fact that there is an expectation that there could be new anti-malarial agents that could be useful. We are making this specific molecules because we receive them from another organization, called Find-a-drug that computed that these molecules have a good chance of being active, so that's scientifically why we are working on that. If somebody were to say they have already made all these compounds and tested them that would not be a problem whatsoever; we would simply just move on to the next problem. So we are working on where we think some chemistry needs to happen. The automatic can't tell you. That's why it's important for you guys to interview biologists and preferably people out in the field who are trying to deliver these medicines because nobody has the complete picture. I can tell you from the chemistry end but what we are doing here is a little bit larger than making anti-malarials. It really doesn't matter that much that we are making anti-malarials; the point is that we are demonstrating that it's possible to do open-source science using free tools for the most part and we are developing an infrastructure that hopefully can be replicated very easily for other people and other projects. So I'm not that concerned about the chemistry at this point because we can change that pretty quickly if we learn new information. It's really a scaleable system that we want to develop.

Woman 4: How has DDT been used? Can you talk a little bit about what DDT is for this non-chemist population and how it has been used and about the pros and cons of its use in treating malaria?

Jean-Claude Bradley: I'm not an expert on DDT, by any means. But I think it's the compound that is credited for saving the most human lives ever because the problems with malaria have been so extensive in human history and DDT basically acts by inhibiting the mosquitoes that carry it, so is has nothing really to do with malaria itself. It has to do with the mosquito carrier. Now, we talked about this before, about DDT, and depending on where you come from, there may be some non-scientists that are writing articles saying that it's good or it's bad, but it's going to be important if some of these things are going to be looking at DDT to look at the source of information they have used to support their claims because you will find people that have very different opinions. I'll tell you my opinion, which is based on - I haven't done any research on it, it's just that in chemical circles something that we sort of know, but definitively would try to find out to get some objective measurements. Because there are people that believe now that by banning DDT that's actually killing a lot of people that wouldn't otherwise die. So I think you will have to look for solid resources to figure that one out.

Man 2: My question is if we were to summarize your work in about two paragraphs, what would you think are the main points that you want to get across about OSS?

Jean-Claude Bradley: I'm not going to give you your paragraphs.


Woman 1: Can't you do that?

Jean-Claude Bradley: I said I'm not going to write your paragraphs.

Woman 2: Aah, he's not going to write them.

Man 2: How about the main points, maybe, please?

Jean-Claude Bradley: I think a really important point is that we now have tools to do open source science that are free and hosted that are easy to use and that's really the turning point right now of why I think that it's going to be adopted in the larger area.

Woman 1: What is your background? What did you do before you did this?

Jean-Claude: I got my PhD in synthetic organic chemistry at University of Ottawa and then I did two postdocs. I did one at Duke working on DNA chips and one in Paris working on gene therapy and I've been at Drexel for about ten years now working in nanotechnology and this is actually a fairly recent project this useful-chem. It just actually started last summer.

Woman 2: How do you see your work as it works through our classes and then ends up in Kabbalah, Sierra Leone? How do you see that tied to what your students do in the lab?

Jean-Claude: What I would like to see is everybody feeling really comfortable asking questions and just talking about what it is that we're doing because we are the chemists and we can definitely address the chemical questions but we don't have time to be reading about all the aspects of malaria and they're all important to actually getting it implemented and helping people. So some of what can be done now, maybe there is a chemical solution that doesn't have to do with making a new anti-malaria compound. Maybe there is something that people are not doing because they don't know chemistry and that we could help, but we can only help if we understand that that there is a problem and that can only happen if everybody talks about the details of their problems. So that's what I really look forward to with all the students there looking a different angle of this problem that will recognize that we can do something that other people didn't recognize because they don't know enough chemistry.

Man 1: When you started the useful-chem program, what spurred you in the first place to start research in malaria and research this as actively as you have?

Jean-Claude: Well if you look at our blog, the useful-chem blog itself, you'll see that in the very first couple of posts how the project started. It didn't start off with malaria at all. It started off with a question of what would be one of the most pressing, urgent needs that is currently out there that can be addressed using chemistry and you'll see that some of the answers that came up, a couple of them had to do with malaria, another had to do with AIDS, another was the arsenic issue that came up subsequently to that I think and malaria just kept popping up because it happens to be that kind of a problem, where there's still so many people that are effected with it that still is a very large problem around the world. So it really had to do with a desire to do something that could be really useful in the short term not do research that may useful in ten or twenty years but to do something that has a realistic chance of making a difference in the reasonable short term.

Woman 3: So do you have any words of wisdom as students make their way through this semester of researching the ancillary topics for the diseases or are there other things that you think they should keep in mind as they're doing that research?

Jean-Claude: Well you know, I would say that make sure that you cite all of the places from which you are getting information so that anybody can basically see whether or not it can be trusted or what the probability is that it's correct and to really free to talk to us. I know that Khallid and James are very anxious to interact with you guys, to talk with you and give you feedback on your things and don't hesitate to contact us.

Woman 4: Do you have any questions for us?

Jean-Claude: Has it been difficult what you guys have been doing so far or is this a pretty easy project?

Woman 4: We have one person who is saying it's time consuming. What else?

Woman 5: It's different than any English class we've ever had. Like I've never researched this hard or talked or actually ever interviewed with anyone for research for a paper.

Woman 4: So it's interesting.

Woman 6: It's kind of hard because it is a lot of science and you have to like, I don't know, dig through the science to find the English that we need to create the paper, but other than that, it's not so bad.

Man 2: I mean all the stuff we're saying is pretty true. The only real thing that I think is different, I mean, this is a completely different teaching style than in high school, because a lot of us our freshmen. We've gone from doing all this literature research read a book, write a paper on the book, review the book lather, rinse, repeat the whole semester. [laughter] And then jumping into this where we actually - she's teaching us how to apply this stuff in real life instead of just saying ok this English is only good for literature, she's saying that English no matter what you write is still applicable even if it comes to science, just helping people into charity. That's the word I knew it begin with a C. Just all kinds of stuff. English stretches beyond our limits as students. It stretches into a realm where all of us coexist as race and we're just trying to define that language.

Jean-Claude: So you guys are more used to single source kind of research? Is that what I'm hearing?

[sounds of agreements]

Woman 7: I think we all prefer this better even though it takes a little more time.

Woman 4: The technology, it too, has been a challenge. Some of our students are very proficient and some of our students are still trying to figure out the on button, but we're getting it. What do you predict as far as technology ten years in the college? At the college level? Do you think that blogs, wikis are going to be the standard?

Jean-Claude: You mean in terms of doing classes? Yeah, I don't know. I don't know what's going to come along.

Woman 4: We watched a clip last week about the use of technology and they predict that the technology we use today, which is wikis and blogs, that will be outdated by the time that they are juniors in college. Do you think that's true?

Jean-Claude: I think that you can't predict the future.

Man 3: Good answer.

Jean-Claude: You have to use the best tools that you have available.

Woman 4: They're loving you now. Their assignment for today was to prove parts of a predictions clip. All right, anybody else have any questions? This is your big chance to ask him. You can always email him if you think of something when you're doing your notes. We're going to be putting this up onto their class blog which is Nerdicity and I'll send you a link over.

Jean-Claude: Okay.

Woman 4: Thank you so very much for doing this with us.

Jean-Claude: Hey, it's been fun.

Woman 4: All right take care.

Transcription by CastingWords

Teaching with Technology Overview


Teaching with Technology Overview

Beth Ritter-Guth: Hi my name is Beth Ritter-Guth. I teach English full time at Lehigh Carbon Community College in Schnecksville, PA.

This is a screencast overview of the wiki that you're looking at. And I'm breaking this down into littler pieces so that you can pick and choose what you want to listen to. But basically this screencast series is a tutorial on how to use the resources available on this wiki.

Before I start the tutorials though, I need to tell you a little bit about how this site is organized and what the purpose is of the site, and also to give credit where credit is due. So I'll start there.

I am just a simple English professor. I study women's studies and women's literature. So I really have no background in technology. I am not a... I would not consider myself an expert in technology, though I am pretty handy at the computer.

I knew none of this stuff six months ago. I had absolutely no idea that this stuff even existed, though I suspected something was going on out there in the blogosphere. But I didn't really know what was out there until I went to a WebCT conference in March 2006 and met Jean-Claude Bradley from Drexel. He uses podcasts and screencasts to teach organic chemistry at Drexel. And meeting with him and collaborating with him since then, he really has inspired me to change the way I teach English and to make my English courses much more interesting and accessible to students.So I can't even give this presentation without thanking him for inspiring me to do this.

So that is where I started in March. I started in March, and I knew what wiki was but I didn't really trust wikis because you know those of us in English: we don't like things that are not peer reviewed. And so I was a little reluctant, a little skeptical and I can't say that I'm completely sold on everything wiki. But I certainly am sold on the idea that information can be shared for free, through collaborative space.

So I'm actually becoming quite a fan of wikis. I'm a big fan of wikis, actually, but I'm even changing my tune on Wikipedia. Wikipedia was one of those sites, is a site, that I don't allow my students to extract information from for research papers. But I have found that in comparative, just simple comparisons that I've made, that Wikipedia is pretty on target with most things that I've looked up. For example: Mary Shelley. Wikipedia's entry for Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" is pretty dead on and the information in there is absolutely accurate. So it's pretty interesting and pretty impressive actually how this technology through collaboration is pretty on target.

So this is a wiki that anybody can edit and you can see: what I'm going to do is, I'm going to show you how easy it is to edit a wiki. I couldn't believe this because I don't know HTML. So I had no idea what I would even need to do, to do something like this. But all you have to do in a wiki is click and edit this page and I'm going to actually put the link for this screencast... right here. I'm a horrible typist, probably should have mentioned that. And I'm going to highlight it, and make it a little bit bigger. OK, so now it's there. And it's going to be ready for me to link to when I'm finished with this screencast presentation. And you're going to see in a minute how it is that I do that.

Basically the way that this wiki is structured, I support the use of free, open access materials. So every single thing on this wiki is going to be free, requiring little or minimal downloads. Sometimes download is required. But for the most part, I look for free with a minimal download because I'm at a community college, and a lot of our students don't have a whole lot of money. So it's important that I try to keep the bottom line cost-wise, as cheap, as close to free as possible.

And also our students don't always have the best computers, so we don't want to be loading up the computers with all kinds of junk. You know. So we try to keep things free, or as free as we can, and without a whole lot of clutter for the computer. So every single resource on this wiki is free, and there are no costs, and you know, some of them do require you to download some software, but most of them don't. And if you have something that you would like to suggest for this site, you'll notice when you log in that, if I sign on here it'll show it a little bit better....OK let me go back in...You'll see that this is a protected site. And one of the criticisms of wikis is that because anybody can edit, since anybody can edit, everything can be changed, and get spammed, somebody can download pornography on your site, whatever. But wiki spaces, and I'm a huge fan of wiki spaces, they actually offer a protection so you can actually close it. But if you would like to add a tool or a resource, you can always click up here on discussion and type in a discussion item or something you'd like to suggest. Or you can ask to join the site. And I really approve anybody who asks to join the site. I just had it protected because I have my college students working in classes under... these are my classes that I'm teaching this summer.

So you can see, for example, that British literature is completely open sourced. It's going to take a little bit of time to think about it. This course just ended today, but you can see that the whole course is here for students: all of the readings, all of the assignments. And they submit their assignments through our course management system, which is WebCT. So everything is here: all my lecture notes. Everything is here.

So I had it protected because I want to make sure that my students can be confident that all the information here is written by me, for them. I also do a little bit in WebCT still anything that is copyrighted goes to WebCT. Any music files that I use go through WebCT.

So I bring you to this wiki to show you what a podcast looks like. This is what a podcast looks like. You know, you're going to see it takes you to a blog. And this is the blog that my students go to. And this is the blog that you come to when you want to access a screencast.

And the reason I use Blogger: one is, it's very easy for me to add in the things I want to add in and also I can run feed off of here. So if I click on this Feedburner button, you can find all of my feed.

So this always confused me and I had no idea what this meant; but pretty much what a cast is -- podcast, vodcast, screencast, whatever you're going to call it -- what that is, that means you can subscribe to it, and you can download it on to a portable listening device, whether that's an iPod, or an MP3 player, or whatever. So you can subscribe to the content. That is what casting means; otherwise it would just be audio or video. So this is the RSS feed for this website.

And you can see I'm able to link, in Blogger, I'm able to link to just the particular audio that I want my students to listen to. And if they click on this link here, they can listen to the lecture notes. I use a transcription service that is lovely. They're wonderful at CastingWords and they actually tape verbatim what I say, excluding the uhms and what-not, and they do an excellent job. I do actually pay for that service but to me, it's worthwhile because it actually, they type exactly what I say in class, and that's really helpful for students with learning disabilities.

So that's an example of a blog. Let me just click back in here. This is a blog, which is really just a diary that entries go on top of each other. Bloglines, we'll talk about in a little bit. And these different icons, we'll talk about it.

I use Odeo for voice. Kids can send me (kids, or students, can send me) voice messages and it's like voice email. They can send me a voice message and it'll come to my email, and that's a free service as well. Very cool stuff.

So this is my syllabus which is a completely open source and what that means is that people can take this class form anywhere in the world. They can... you know... if they live in Africa and they want to learn about British literature, they can take this course. You know, they're not getting college credit. I'm not going to evaluate the work of somebody who's not a student at my college because I sort of use and have adapted the MIT model of open courseware.So you know this stuff is available for free, and for free distribution and modification. It is free and out there, but I don't actually grade the work of non-students. But they can get what they need, and it is an incredible resource because I'm saving my students eighty-six dollars a semester because they don't have to purchase the British Literature Anthology. They can just come here and read the material on line.

So that, this is how to use a wiki; this is what a wiki is...and we wait for it to think.

The possibilities for wikis are endless and so... but in order to use the tools that I've outlined here, it's important to know the difference between a wiki, which is what this is, and a blog, where I podcast from. So what you know about this site is: everything about it is free. I don't do trials, so if you're going to recommend a site, please don't recommend something that somebody will eventually have to pay for because I won't put it on here.

The purpose of this wiki is to provide free and easy to use software to teachers, professors and students so that they can navigate this new technology. If you want to know anything about me or if you want to email me, you can click here and if you want to know my sources, because I use the Creative Commons license which is a share-like, non-commercial license. You can see how Creative Commons license works by this small example.

As I learned from Jean-Claude, I learned how to use things like Audacity and Feedburner, and I learned how to better use iTunes. I had iTunes but I wasn't sure how to use it. But then I started reading different blogs and I started to subscribe to blogs through Bloglines (which we'll be talking about in another screencast).

And so I came across a blog from a Cool Cat: teacher Vicki Davis. She's an amazing woman, she is an amazing humanitarian and she is actually from Camilla, Georgia, which is a wonderful and beautiful town where I actually took a bunch of students from Penn State to build houses through Habitat for Humanity. It's funny how the world connects people. We think she was there on one of the days that my students were there, so that's kind of awesome.

Vicki is an amazing resource when it comes to K-12 education and resources for technology. And really, a lot of what she does at the K-12 level is applicable to the college level, and I was just blown away by her blog. So the article that I read came from her blog, and so because of Creative Commons, I wanted to give her credit for being the person who showed me the post. So on the LCCC faculty blog, which is one of the blogs that I helped to write (I'm not the only writer on that one but I'm one of the writers), I wrote a little post about it, about Cool Cat, which is Vicki Davis. And I put a link to the information that I found there. And she links, because she found this information; she goes back and actually links to PC World. So you see, I could have just linked directly to PC World, but that is not where I really got the information from. I really got the information from the amazing and lovely Vicki Davis.

So that's kind of how Creative Commons work. So people always ask what Creative Commons means. That is what it means. You give credit where credit is due. You send it back through the system so that people can see how the information was shared with others.

So I hope that you've enjoyed this screencast. I hope that you enjoyed the screencasts that help you, navigate you to the pieces of software that are available here. And of course, there'll be new pieces of software added as they come along. So if you have any questions please email me at and I'll be happy to help you. Thanks!

Transcription by CastingWords

BCCE orgo games Bradley talk


BCCE orgo games Bradley talk

Jean-Claude Bradley: All right, so we only have twenty minutes here I'd like to talk to you about some games that you can do in organic chemistry to help teach organic chemistry. Both of these I developed, EduFrag and Wheel of Orgo; they're very different, as you'll see. I'll be spending a little more time with EduFrag, and hopefully I can end by showing you a little demo.

To put this all into context, basically I gave a talk two days ago, talking about how to use blogs, wikis, screencasting and things like that. Really, the way that you want to think about these is just as different platforms to do the same thing that you have been doing in teaching, even without technology, which is to address content, interaction with the students and assessment. I'll be showing you how you can do the same thing with games and how games are particularly good at certain things.

The first game I'll talk to you about is the EduFrag project. In terms of assessment, I'll show you how you can use it in making quizzes in a 3D world; it's a very the interactive kind of environment. You can add content; I'll show you a study room where you can actually put pictures of your content so students can go study before they do the maze. And then, the interaction, there are all kinds of other possibilities here that I'm sure you will think about that I haven't even addressed.

The EduFrag design - this is what it ended up being after year. I started this last summer. It ended up being a very modular project in the sense that if any of you want to get involved, I can show you in an hour how to create content so you can actually have your students during this. There is a free version of the game, so it's pretty simple and straightforward to do.

This is also quiz based, so this is very different from some of the other games or simulations. It's not a simulation; we're not building molecules, grabbing stuff and trying to build something in 3D. This content is just a very quiz-like environment. The textures are portable, which means that you can use them in different games and it's very flexible. Again, I don't have much time to get into all of this, but if you're familiar with the gaming world, you can go from very, very competitive and very violent kind of interactions to very nonviolent and noncompetitive, and that's your choice.

I started to use this because last summer it struck me that for five years I've been playing Unreal Tournament and I never got bored with it. To me, that's something that I thought would be interesting to see if I could use that addictive quality of that kind of first person shooter game and to see if I could adopt it to chemistry.

The very first thing that I tried was just to put my WebCT quizzes in a maze. You can see here's a weapon - this is a full version of Unreal Tournament 2004. You walk around and you can either go through the doors or not. Here's another example, where instead of using the pictures of the quizzes, I'm actually drawing reactions. The reactions are either true or false; if they're true something good will happen, if they're false something very bad will happen, and that depends on the type of game that we're doing.

I'm going to skip through some of these because you will have access to this entire PowerPoint if you're interested about further details.

This is what the editor looks like. The editor is very simple as well, if you're interested in actually building the maps, but you don't have to.

This project really started to take off when I came across a wiki where they were actually using the educational version of Unreal Tournament. This is pretty cool; it's a very small program, it's about 15 Mbs. You can have all you students run it on any PC; there is no Mac version. Basically, it enables you to do this with a lot of students. The problem with the commercial version is that it is 20 to 40 dollars, depending on where you get it from, and not all students will be able to do that. Although, in our library we did have Unreal Tournament installed specifically for this purpose. But, this is a nice solution where you don't have to have the full game.

The educational version does not have any weapons, so what can you do with that? Again, this is going to be a very different kind of interface than with the full version. This is the system that I adopted. You start up in a study room, which has pictures of your chemistry and you end up in a first room. There are four doors; one of these doors is going to be true, and if you go through that, you'll end up in another room, then another room. If you get any of them wrong, you end up back in the study room - you have to start over.

I run these as races. The students bring their laptops and they all start at the same time. You can see they get very tense when they're in the 18th room because if they make any mistake, they have to start over. But if they do make it past that 20th room, they end up in a reward room, they say, Hey, I'm done, " and then I give them a prize; I'll go over that.

What does it look like? Again, I put a lot of screenshots here because I wasn't sure if I'd have time to do a demo. First the study room: there's a pit here. On the wall you can see this is how to do Lewis structures; you have the valence periodic table and you have examples of Lewis structures. You can walk around that to take a more detailed look at what you want.

This what a typical quiz room looks like; this is a corner, and these are either true or they're false. This one would be false, if you were to walk through that one, you would end up starting back in the study room. The last room is the cat room, where when you see the cats then they've won.

What I've been doing for the past two terms is I've been giving out a chance of winning one of four prizes. One of them is a video iPod, then a chemistry book, molecular model set or a consolation prize. Basically, the winner picks from four cards, but they can't win the same one twice. It really encourages them to keep coming. It's happened twice, where a student has won all of the prizes except for the video iPod, and at the very last moment they did. I ended up giving out one video iPod per term. They really appreciated that.

The full weapons version - it's kind of hard to see here - it's the same principle with the rooms and the four selections, but the difference is when you go through a correct door, you end up with more weapons, ammo or health; and if you go through a false door, you fall in a pit and die. So, you don't want to do that!


The main environment is a gigantic room. These are actually pictures of Linus Pauling, and if you walk into the Linus Pauling, you're teleported into one of these rooms with the four questions. Here, you're playing against other people online, so it's a completely different kind of sensitivity.

Everything that I'm doing here is completely open source. I have a wiki - - where if you want to download these and try them out, it's all there. There's also a blog where, for example, student evaluations, anything that has to do with the game or related games will be posted. I also started a Flickr group that you might what to have people go through, where if you want to upload your doors, you can have people pick and choose to make up their own mazes.

The requirements - again, I don't have a lot of time for the details, but it's really ridiculously simple - you just need to come up with a 256x256 pixel bitmaps, and you have to name them "true001" or "false001" et cetera. What happens is that your files will replace the files on the game, and you're done. Now you can use the templates that I have and they will run with your particular content.

This has been adapted in a number of different areas. Beth Ritter-Guth has done this for grammar and the use of commas. It's the same kind of maze; it's just that you have different content. For chemical information retrieval - the last talk - basically here our librarians tried their hand at putting true and false statements about how to find chemical information. I put my class FAQ on there because they weren't reading it!


In other rooms, they have to do their tests and things like that and I thought I should just put them in here that way they'll have to learn them. It's also been done with calculus and physics; there are people who have done that. I had an undergraduate student do poster session using Unreal Tournament. You can walk around the space and see the pictures of her experiment and things like that.

You guys are a provement tool. Online, this shows up with all of the other servers that are using Unreal Tournament, and if you happen to pick the EduFrag one, here at Drexel University, you can go and do an alkine quiz, in this case.

If any of you are interested, I'd be happy to talk to you about getting involved in that. It's all free.

The second one is the Wheel of Orgo. This is something that I started to play eight years ago on a regular chalkboard. Recently, I've been doing it on either a smart board or a tablet PC. The advantage of a tablet PC is that I can record the sessions, and those are also available to you if you want to see them. I asked the students if they had a problem with having their voices on there, and they didn't, so you can hear me talking to the students as we go through the game. There are a lot of different learning opportunities there, if you're really interested in how that works.

The rules are really simple. This is organic chemistry, so the teacher draws a starting material on one side and a final product on the other side of the page. Then we go around the room and the students take turns drawing on the tablet PC or on the board any reaction from the starting material or any reaction to the product.

What I try to teach them is that often times it's through trial and error that you figure out how to synthesize something, so don't worry too much that may know all the way to the end, just think of all the ways to make aldehydes or think of all things you can do with alcohols. That also helps them to rehearse that.

They get one point for a correct reaction and three points for completing the synthesis, so the student that ties that starts to the end. I've done it with many modifications. This does not count for any points. Again, there are prizes I give out, but this is all voluntary. The students are all participating because they want to do this.

Modifications, I like to do open web and open book because I think that when they graduate that's what they'll be doing, they'll have access to the Internet. If they know how to get the information, then that's what counts. There are all kinds of other things, like if the students are not that strong with material, I sometimes give points for just even attempting it, it really depends on the audience.

This is what it looks like: here's benzene and I end up with this amylyte. They are many steps here; if you're interested this is on This is lecture 15: Wheel of Orgo.

The one thing when you go through this, on your recording, I give students time to think and I didn't edit that out, so there may be periods of silence. But in the future what I did was when I gave students time to think I paused the recording, so it sounds a lot smoother and shorter than it actually was.

Here's just an example of the first play. A student comes up and says, "Okay, Br3 with iron tribromide, and then puts bromobenzene." There are different ways putting it; I can either stop it at that point and say, "You are wrong, " cross it out and put in the right answer. In this particular case, the way we're playing it is I told the students it was wrong and if anyone could figure out what was wrong about it, they got a point. Sometimes you'll see things that are wrong being left there, but in the end they all get corrected.

This is in the middle of the play. You can see here that this branch got corrected, this branch got continued and this student here had a lot of problems with sodamide - with the whole benzene mechanism. This is the attempt of one student to correct another, which is also wrong. But, that's ok because if you listen to it there's a lot of great opportunities to teach them things and even to learn some things because, as I'll show you at the end here.

This is eventually what happened - this is the connection that was made, the reduction of the nitro compound to an aniline. A student suggested sodium borohydride; I had to think about that one because I didn't think it would work, but I wasn't sure because we never actually explicitly looked at it. It turns out you can't do it, but that was a pretty good guess. So, there may be points here where the teacher can learn a lot as well.

The final one I gave for that term was the synthesis of a cat from glycine.


This was very interesting because it was a way for me to have them take everything that they have been studying, their way of thinking about organic chemistry in a completely different perspective. It turns out there is a solution to this. Does anybody know?

[Inaudible audience response]

Jean-Claude: Four billion years and more!


Woman: Give or take a billion years.

Jean-Claude: But, the point here is that they have been thinking about these reactions and now they have to think of a cat as being a very complicated collection of chemical reactions, but still you can describe the behavior of a cat only with chemical reactions.

You know, I really like these games. I'm not big on "I'm going to try this game on a group of students and see if they perform better on a standard exam." There's so much more going on here that has nothing to do with standardized testing. I think if you try these things, you have to keep them in mind. The key thing is that they are all very simple, so it's not a big investment in time. I can work with any of you, and the next day you can have your students try some of these things.

The key websites to go to: edufrag.wikispaces is the wiki, there's a division there in the wiki, there is the free version stuff and then the commercial version stuff; the blog is here,; for the Wheel of Orgo stuff, that's actually in my chem243, the last organic chemistry class we had and finally, I put more stuff in there than just the gaming, but if I do anything with gaming I do report on it, so I do report about the different kinds of teaching initiatives I have going on.

That's basically it. Do I have time to do a quick one minute demo?

Woman 2: You have a minute, or 30 seconds at least.

Jean-Claude: Thirty seconds, all right. Again, this is a very small program; it's just 15 Mbs. You'll see here that you can't use it for commercial purposes, which we're not. As long as you are intent on doing it in your classes, it should be fine.

What happens is the way this is structured; it's actually a collection of maps. You start in the study room - it might be a little dark - but basically you move through this thing. Here's the pit, and you can see that you can get pretty good quality stuff on here. These are the 256x256 bitmaps. Then, you just jump in the pit here and it teleports you to the first room. These are all randomized; every time the students play it's a new maze.

Here, for example, I'm going to be doing a lot more of this. I've been getting feedback that students have problems with drawing arrows, so I'm going to be putting a lot more arrows in these.

Here's an sn2 reaction. I don't think there's anything wrong with it. If I walk through it, it takes me to the next room where I have, again, four choices. If I walk through one of these that is incorrect, I end up at the beginning.

That's basically all there is to it, and like I said, it's very easy to reproduce it. I hope that one of you will want to try something. That's it!


Woman 2: I have two questions. Surely on your salary you're not buying these prizes for all your classes?

Jean-Claude: The question is where does the money come from for the prizes. Well, one of the advantages of having an online class is that the Sloan Semester - any one of you heard of the Sloan Semester? It's an initiative to help Katrina students actually not miss a term. I already had some classes so I taught some students all three courses of organic, and I got some money from that. So, I can use that pool for other educational applications.

Woman 2: My other question is I think I first heard about you when you said that anybody in the country could join in some race that you had; you didn't say anything about that in the talk, is it still, like when you started, a race against other students?

Jean-Claude: The question is the online collaboration or playing?

Woman 2: Yes.

Jean-Claude: The free version, theoretically, does have a network capability, although I've never used it. When we do it in class, basically the students sit in the front rows with their laptops and then make sure that they are all starting at the same place, because you could cheat by simply just going to the last room. But because I'm watching from the back, I know that they're not doing that. Now, for the full version, that is online. It doesn't have to be, but usually it is online. You can play against bots if you're playing by yourself. But yes, that's all around the world.

Man: We have a lot of trouble with people not doing assigned pre-lab exercises; this looks like it might be adaptable to that. Have done that type of...?

Jean-Claude: For lab exercises?

Man: Pre-lab. In other words, somebody being prepared to do a lab.

Jean-Claude: Yes, adapting this for lab would be a great idea. We haven't done that. I don't teach lab, so I haven't had a reason to do it, but it could certainly be done. As long as you have something that's unambiguously true or false in a picture format.

Man 2: In the multi player games, in the full version, are they fighting as well as running around trying to answer these questions?

Jean-Claude: Yes. In the full version you have full weapons; it's basically the same thing except it happens to be about organic chemistry. Theoretically there's no reason, because Unreal is all open, that you couldn't take one of the popular maps and put it into your editor. The editor is really nice. I looked into using the Quake in June also, but it's just too difficult to manipulate; Unreal has a really nice interface. But yes, it's really the whole game.

Woman 2: You can continue to answer questions. But Daryll, are using the PC?

Daryll: I'm using it.

Woman 2: Okay, excellent, good. We'll just switch you over...[Audio ends]

Transcription by CastingWords

BCCE chem screencasting Bradley talk


BCCE chem screencasting Bradley talk

JC Bradley: OK. So we only got about 10 minutes so I'll try to give you an idea what it is that we do in terms of screencasting and if you have any other questions I can certainly see you after the sessions are over.

As Mark said, we both use screencasting but we do it with different objectives and we use it in slightly different ways. Let me give you an idea of my entire course and of how it's put together and where exactly the screencasting fits in.

What I'd like to do if I can at all is to make my courses open, to have them shared with anyone who wants to have access to them and so I have moved from running my courses on a course management system like WEBCT to running them on wikis, which are just websites that are easy to change. Even students can actually change them pretty easily. And if you think about teaching you've got content, interaction and assessment. The only component that I'm currently doing on WEBCT right now is assessment, so, quizzes and tests. The students do testing under video surveillance, so the entire course could be done on-line.

The interaction I won't talk too much about here but it's basically you can do it through the blogs or email. The content is really what we are talking about. How do you generate content that is multimedia, that is available online in a simple way? And that's really where the screencasting comes in.

I'm the coordinator in the course of Arts and Sciences at Drexel, so it's my responsibility to help faculty who want to put their content online. A lot of them have the a preconceived notion that that's a very difficult and time-consuming thing to do, and it can be if you want to build something, like Flash, from scratch. But if you have very little time and if you want to leverage that time, screencasting is a really good way to do it, because as Keith showed us and Mark, if you start with a laptop, if you already teach with a laptop, you just continue teaching with a laptop, you just have to run software. We use Camtasia, which is very similar to the software that Keith is using. If you are using a chalkboard or overheads then what you need to do is to transfer over to a tablet PC, where you write on the screen and that's very, very similar to writing on a chalkboard or on an overhead. The difference is that you are going to be recording it. I'll try to end a little bit early so we can show you an example of the stuff that Mark and I were doing. The process is very simple, in fact I'm recording this right now, all I did was hit F9 and at the end I'll hit F10 and I'll save that as an avi file.

There are a number of things I can do with it. There are ways of, of - you can modularize it, so you can cut it in small pieces if you want, or you can do a podcast or vodcast. Again I haven't got time to go into details about it but I'll be happy to help anybody.

What is do my wikis look like? I have one wiki for each of my courses. I teach organic chemistry, CHEM 241, 242 and 243, and the addresses are just, for example, and that's really the equivalent of what you get in WEBCT, the login page when the students first come in, so my login page just happens to be open to anyone who wants to have a look at it. And so this is based on my contents, there are all kinds of things there, connected here to the syllabus, the class blog. Let's take a look at some of these.

I use a blog to organize my screencasts and also to do a podcast, which is where you can go on iTunes, for example and download them all to your iPod. And it turns out that using a blog is a really convenient way of doing that. What it looks like is really it looks like this: This is a post from March 13. I usually write a little bit what it is that we have covered in the class, and then I link to the.mp3 file, so that's just the audio, I link to the pdf, as I'm writing on the tablet PC that file is being saved as a pdf, and then I make it available in Flash format, which is very similar to what you saw in the last talk. And I also make it available in formats that are downloadable for video.

And when the students subscribe to this - again not that much time, but basically the button at the top of all my blogs, when the students click on it if they don't know anything about RSS or blogs or anything like that it will take them through the process of subscription. Bloglines is one of the readers that I use that is pretty convenient.

The way it shows up for the students is like this: when ever there is a new post it'll show up in bold, so you can subscribe to several RSS feeds as Mark was talking about and you can know when there has been an update by using a reader, such as Bloglines.

To subscribe to the podcasts, which is either the audio or the video or the files there is a very simple way to do it. There is a button that the students can click that is at the top of my blog and what will happen is a window will pop up and there is a description of the class. Here are all of the enclosures, the files that the students are getting, and this can be when they don't have icons or audio mp3's, the ones that have a little book or pdfs, you can also do, well mp3 and pdfs can be podcasts. You can also podcast the video in the format of an m4d file, and that will show up in iTunes, or if you sync it to your video iPod - I actually brought my video iPod if any of you are curious to see - you can actually see the molecules pretty well when you're drawing the mechanism.

Students can also do blogs; I have students doing blog assignments. The advantage of that is that they can share what they are finding with other students and other students can comment on it, and students from around the world. Just a quick note: when that happens Mark and I have different results. What he observed is that he has no drop in attendance; when I do the class, you know I record the entire lecture, which is different from what Mark is doing. And I gave the students the option of coming to class and not coming to class. And the times I do that the same thing happens: attendance starts off reasonably high and then decreases to about 10 or 20 % by the time the last lecture comes up. So, now, looking at the population of students that were coming to class every time and looking at the population that did at least part of them online the averages are within one %.

So that told me, hey, maybe this is not the best way to spend my time, so since that time I have stopped doing lectures, I now assign the recorded lectures and I do workshops instead during the class time.

So we do a number of things. I'll be giving another talk on Wednesday on using games in Organic Chemistry, and so I can show you some of that. But just two points before I go here. You know these are very open and I think it's really important that we make these available if at all possible. There may be copyright issues and you can't really do it but if you have no copyright issues then, if you can make your lectures available, you'll be surprised who is interested in it.

Here is an example of a subscription to my class podcast. This is the first time I taught it, this is the second time, and actually I didn't even teach it this term. What I did is I put it on iTunes and what happened is I got 600 people that are looking at this class that is not even currently being used. So I think you'd be very, very surprised as to what kind of people are watching it, and if you look at the logs.

Everything that I talked about here can be done for free, even the tracking software and everything. The people really come from everywhere around the world, you'll really be surprised. Your students will actually be the minority contribution on your sites.

So I give you the time, maybe one minute or two to maybe show you a quick recording.

Yes. There are questions, I know. Talk to you.

So here is my CHEM241.wikispaces.

And here is the class blog. This is one of the ways. There are many ways of accessing the recorded lectures, and so, basically, if we scroll down here, right here is "Alkenes 1." This is also Flash. It's streaming so that means while it's downloading the students can watch. The connection can be a little slower but that will still be OK.

So what you can see it's very similar to what we saw earlier. So I guess I may still have time for a question or two.


Woman: [xx] I was using a tablet PC [xx] I'm not a technophile but what happens was that [xx] had two projectors, one to show everything that [xx] and one for PowerPoint. [xx] that was kind of how I broadcast because [xx] what happened was that I got a tablet PC that I could write on and then my graduate student showed me how to play the file. And so I'm talking and it's going on at the same time. Attendance didn't drop, partly because [xx] a combination with the [xx]. This made the class more interactive [xx] and they get points for the [xx]. Then most of them are willing to come to class for [xx], whether they complete the lectures [xx], as opposed to [xx] class.

Transcription by CastingWords