VIPEr Workshop: Bioinorganic Applications of Coordination Chemistry

Northwestern University
City, State: 
Evanston, IL
Hilary Eppley (DePauw University). Sheila Smith (Michigan - Dearborn) and Betsy Jamieson (Smith College)
13 Jul 2014 - 18 Jul 2014



Sunday: Arrival; 5:30 p.m. reception and outline
Full days
Friday: Morning activities; afternoon departure

This workshop encoils inorganic faculty, postdocs, and graduate students into the supportive community of scholars known as IONiC (Interactive Online Network of Inorganic Chemistry). Inorganic chemistry is one of the broadest fields in chemistry, covering the entire Periodic Table of the Elements, yet faculty members tend to be narrowly trained in a single subdiscipline. Stepping into the inorganic classroom, where knowledge of all of the subdisciplines is expected, can be daunting. Collaboration with colleagues from different inorganic subfields is an obvious solution to this problem, but geographical and professional isolation, especially at small institutions, inhibits such collaborations. This workshop provides an opportunity to network and collaborate with other inorganic chemists and to deepen knowledge in the subfield of bioinorganic chemistry in order to introduce students to advances in and applications of coordination chemistry to biologically important problems.

The IONiC community supports faculty interaction through its web home, VIPEr (Virtual Inorganic Pedagogical Electronic Resource, Participants in this workshop will learn about the resources on VIPEr and become active VIPEr contributors. The workshop theme, bioinorganic chemistry, will add a “back to grad school” feel to the workshop, with participants immersing themselves in cutting edge chemistry, learning from leading researchers in the field, and creating new learning opportunities for their students. Participants will work collaboratively to develop new teaching materials that provide modern, biologically relevant examples to teach coordination chemistry concepts. 

Before the workshop, there will be a short pre-workshop web conference that introduces participants to one another and to the web-based collaboration tools that IONiC uses. Participants and workshop leaders will discuss what resources the participants will want to bring to the workshop.

Sunday: Learning object design. The teaching materials on VIPEr -- in-class exercises, literature discussions, laboratories, problem sets -- are called “learning objects.” The workshop will begin at 5:30 PM with dinner and a session on effective approaches to learning object design. Participants will share with one another the learning object they have brought with them to develop.

Monday: VIPEr and learning object development. Participants will learn more about the VIPEr site, including forums, commenting, and RSS feeds. Guidelines for learning object development will be presented. With the support of workshop leaders, participants will work on their own learning objects and learn how to post them to VIPEr. Participants will briefly review fundamentals in coordination and bioinorganic chemistry.

Tuesday: Teaching inorganic chemistry and Back-to-grad-school mini-symposium. Participants will share their own approaches to teaching inorganic chemistry, share lecture and laboratory syllabi, and explore the VIPEr site for learning objects they can adapt for their own classrooms. The first session of the back-to-grad-school mini-symposium on bioinorganic chemistry will be in the afternoon. Two leading researchers in bioinorganic chemistry will present their work and discuss with participants ways to incorporate the research into the teaching of inorganic chemistry.

Wednesday: Back-to-grad-school mini-symposium and learning object development. Another pair of leading researchers will discuss their work. In small groups, participants will begin to sketch out learning objects incorporating the four different areas of research. These may include literature discussions, problem sets, laboratories, “5-slides-about”, web resources, in-class activities, etc.  

Thursday: Collaborative development of learning objects. Participants will pull together what they learned yesterday and complete, in small groups, the development of at least two new learning objects: 1) a literature discussion learning object about the paper they read, and 2) a second unspecified learning object based on the research they learned about the previous day. Participants are encouraged to develop additional learning objects about these talks. The objects will be posted to VIPEr for the global inorganic community to share.

Friday: Wrap-up morning. Where do we go from here? Participants will discuss the learning objects they wish to test and/or develop after the workshop. A Workshop Evaluation form will be completed by each participant prior to departure. The workshop ends at noon.