Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has recently launched Organic Chemistry 1 MOOC course through the SWAYAM platform. This 15 week first semester course for MSc Chemistry students comprising 40 modules and 4 credits has attracted over 2000 students from India and abroad.
In this MOOC, augmented reality (AR) based software (StereoChem) designed for mobile phones was introduced with help of IIT-Bombay. Cross-word puzzle has been introduced as one of the evaluation components. “Students dread Organic Chemistry as it is often taught at a fast pace due to the need to cover several topics. One way to remove fear of the subject is to encourage students to be active partners in the learning process. Animation through augmented reality software and cross word puzzles during evaluation can have positive impact on students‘ learning outcomes,” says M Jagadesh Kumar, vice chancellor, JNU.
“Many Chemistry topics deal with complex spatial arrangement of molecules. Understanding these topics often require individual access to 3D models. Through the AR-based visualisation app, students can scan the marker (similar to QR code) image on the worksheet, visualise and interact with spatially enhanced 3D models and answer teacher’s questions right on the worksheet,” says BS Balaji, associate professor, School of Biotechnology, JNU, who has developed the course.
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As for the use of crossword puzzle for assessment, Balaji says, “Answering a crossword puzzle requires accuracy which leaves no room for guesswork. Many studies have shown that solving crossword puzzle enhances problem-solving skills. It also gives the learner a sense of accomplishment and boosts their self-confidence.”
According to AISHE report, there has been a steady decline of pass percentage of MSc Chemistry students over the past 6-7 years (from 46.75 % in 2011-12 to 33.43 in 2016-17). “One of the causes may be the dearth of quality teaching-learning process. This course aims to fill this lacuna, more so for the needy students since it is offered free,” says Balaji, adding 230 faculty members have registered for the course, an indication they are open to innovative teaching methods.
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