Cell & Systems Biology Professor Melody Neumann is a leader in technology innovation in the classroom. For the past five years, she has been developing Team Up!, an online learning tool that facilitates active learning and group work. Initially she developed this app for virtual breakout rooms in CSB201, an online course intended to provide non-science students with an understanding of basic concepts in molecular biology and genetics.
For the past two years, students in BIO130 have been taking advantage of this technology to learn about Molecular and Cell Biology, with facilitation by BIO130 Teaching Assistants. Team Up! is now in use in ten courses across different Faculties through the university’s online teaching and learning environment Quercus. Students can collaborate in Quercus groups, or spontaneously form their own groups. This provides the opportunity for peer teaching and consensus-building, while allowing misconceptions to be corrected immediately.
Professor Neumann has faced technical hurdles along the way in developing Team Up!, but the computer code is now lean enough that 1300 students taking BIO130 in Convocation Hall can be working simultaneously using institutional WiFi on any mobile device. Future refinements of the server architecture will allow the project to host additional users across all three campuses . The development of this project internally will also permit cost savings for students over similar commercial applications.
Funding for this project was supplied by Provost’s Instructional Technology Innovation Fund (ITIF) with matching funds from CSB, and the Learning and Education Advancement Fund (LEAF).
You can read more about Professor Neumann’s work and how it fits with teaching and learning across UofT below: