Developing and Assessing Effective Cyberlearning within the STEMWiki Open Access Hyperlibrary Textbook Resource
The Hyperlibrary is designed as a collaborative platform that enables dissemination and evaluation of new education developments and approaches, with an emphasis on data-driven assessment of student learning and performance. It is becoming ever clearer that new and innovative educational efforts are required to facilitate the greater creativity, flexibility, and increased learning capability needed for post-secondary education in the future. The increasingly diverse American educational landscape requires more personalized approaches. Unfortunately, rapidly rising undergraduate fees and textbook costs are serious factors impeding access to higher education for many students. Growing textbook costs are a serious barrier for under-served, at-risk students and open-access textbook resources can be used to guide students toward a centralized 'enhanced learning environment' capable of tracking student-specific activity and performance to identify weaknesses in study habits.
The primary goals of our effort is to create an open accessible Hyperlibrary resource that is capable to taking the place of conventional textbooks in post-secondary courses. Our assessment plan focuses on multiple pilots whereby Wikitext efficacies are established by comparisons with established textbooks in established courses with known student performances. This approach not only can establish the non-inferiority of Wikitexts, but provides a mechanism to establish superiority of the Wikitexts (see Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 16, 939-948 (2015)).
The success of the Hyperlibrary project relies on the construction of a large collaborative team extending across multiple campuses to reach students at very different levels of education, including community colleges, four year colleges, and research universities. This is represented, in part, by the broad range of institutions directly involved with the project proposal. The focus of this effort is two-fold: (1) to continue the development of the ChemWiki and (2) to shift construction efforts toward its sister STEMWikis. Since the ChemWiki is the ﾓflagshipﾔ STEMWiki, its success serves as a model that helps in the recruitment of faculty in the development and adoption of other STEMWikis.
The impact of the Hyperlibrary has been quantified both in terms of the number of students using the project to supplement their existing commercial textbook and the number of students that use the ChemWiki in lieu of conventional textbooks. Since its inception seven years ago, the ChemWiki has been exponentially growing and currently reaches over 6 million students per month and is the most visited chemistry website in the world with traffic extending over both the United State and to every nation of the world.
The success of the Hyperlibrary project as envisioned positively impacts four main populations in substantial ways: (1) Availability of free quality resources for learning by the non-science community; (2) Reducing the financial burden on lower socioeconomic status students; (3) Smaller or financially disadvantaged academic institutions that increasingly wish to adopt newer learning technologies, but cannot afford the initial buy-in to change curriculum; and (4) discipline-based education researchers looking for a platform to evaluate interdisciplinary approaches and curriculum modifications that would otherwise absorb too large of a budget to develop from scratch.
Procuring faculty involvement has been the greatest challenge of our efforts, but after 8 years of development and with suitable NSF funding, we establishing the critical mass necessary to build and propagate our project forward.
Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Open-Access ChemWiki Resource as a Replacement for Traditional General Chemistry Textbooks, Gregory Allen, Alberto Guzman-Alvarez, Amy Smith, Alan, Chemistry Education Research and Practice, DOI: 10.1039/C5RP00084J (2015).
Assessing the Impact and Efficacy of the Open-Access ChemWiki Textbook Project, Gregory Allen, Alberto Guzman-Alvarez, Marco Molinaro, Delmar S. Larsen, Educause Learning Initiative Brief, Feb. (2015).
Enhancing Undergraduate Chemistry Education with the Online Dynamic ChemWiki Resource, Ronald J. Rusay, Michelle R. McCombs, Matthew J. Barkovich, Delmar S. Larsen, Journal of Chemical Education, 88 (6), p 840 (2011).