The recent ACS Webinar “Teaching Remotely Together: Lessons Learned” shared insights and common experiences with the chemistry education community. The June 30 webinar was the result of a partnership between the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE), the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT), the Education Division of the American Chemical Society, and the ACS Technical Division of Chemical Education. ACS Division of Chemical Education Chair Dawn Del Carlo moderated the event, which featured ACS Education Executive Vice President LaTrease Garrison, AACT President Heather Weck, and JCE Editor-in-Chief Thomas Holme.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly hampered chemistry teachers’ ability to interact with students in classroom or laboratory settings. These conditions forced many teachers to adapt quickly, and they sought resources on how best to do so. The expert panelists in this ACS Webinar described how remote teaching continues to advance STEM education, and how the broader education community collaborates in these difficult times.
The webinar featured a variety of additional chemistry teaching resources offered by ACS. In May, Holme hosted a Twitter chat in which he answered questions about student engagement and technology solutions, among other topics. JCE has also produced two relevant virtual issues, one featuring freely available publications to aid in transitioning to teaching chemistry online, and another virtual issue focusing specifically on laboratory learning.
In September 2020, just as a new school year starts for many students and teachers, JCE will publish a special issue on “Insights Gained While Teaching Chemistry in the Time of COVID-19.” Holme lauded the “readily apparent…level of creativity,” he observed in his review of manuscripts submitted to the upcoming issue.
This ACS Webinar attracted a global audience. Nearly one-third of the participants were from outside the United States. Polls conducted during the webinar pointed out several common challenges faced by participants around the world. Moderator Dawn Del Carlo summarized the immediate and long-term challenges faced by the global chemistry education community, saying that while everyone may progress through stages and experiences on their own timeline, everyone shares the common goal of addressing student needs.
Garrison highlighted many ways in which the broader education community is creating a network to face these challenging issues together. A collective effort within the ACS Education Division enables teachers to collaborate, support each other, and learn from effective best practices. Chemical & Engineering News recently published tips for effective remote teaching and learning, and AACT made many of its resources freely available to help out teachers. Garrison also explored the impact and the reach of various social media outlets, as a way for science educators to connect, share lessons learned, and maintain accessibility.
Weck shared some examples of practical resources for online chemistry instruction, including videos and virtual labs. She described the need to take existing content and rapidly transition it into an online remote format. She said teachers must virtually recreate several critical components of education, including laboratory experiments, student testing and assessment, and critically important social and emotional connections formed in the classroom.
Holme suggested using live streaming videos created by the teacher, coupled with safe and simple at-home experiments. Because laboratory learning is a core component of chemistry instruction, these methods are ideal mechanisms to preserve students’ educational momentum.
All panelists said trial and error were critical to identifying the best technology solutions to address these problems. From Zoom rooms, to online icebreakers, to gamifying content for maximum engagement, these educators sought to provide continuity to students during a difficult time.
After the webinar, participants provided a list of resources to assist with teaching remotely in various and changing circumstances. Thanks to ACS, this webinar is now available for free!