UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 3 | Mar.
Have Lab, No Travelling Required
Mini sensors provide maximum data
By Brian Lin (with files from Krista Charbonneau)
A unique pilot project will soon allow UBC pharmacy students
to access laboratories south of the border without leaving
their own classroom.
A demonstration was conducted last term in a third-year pharmacy
course where UBC pharmacy senior instructor Simon Albon used
the Internet to access and operate instruments in a lab at
Western Washington University (WWU), through its new Integrated
Laboratory Network (ILN).
The in-class science experiment marked the first time a Canadian
university has utilized the ILN to support teaching and learning.
Students observed as Albon conducted a gas chromatography
mass spectrometry experiment, a technique commonly used by
pharmaceutical scientists but one UBC students rarely get
to practice on because the faculty doesn't have the
necessary equipment to run it in the student laboratory.
Working with a team of professors from UBC's Faculties
of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Education, and WWU's
Huxley College of the Environment, Albon set up the equipment
and appropriate samples at the WWU site and ran the experiment
virtually from a UBC classroom while students observed through
a two-way video and audio connection.
Students then used the experimental data generated to solve
the pharmaceutical case developed as the focus for the in-class
"As a teaching tool, the concept of an ILN could revolutionize
what we do, and the experience is unique to Canadian Pharmacy
schools," said Albon.
"It's a completely different approach,"
said Albon. "When students collect their own samples,
they have ownership of their work from the start, which helps
them see the relevance of what they're leaning."
Albon's involvement with the ILN is a perfect marriage
between leading-edge learning technology and collaborative
teaching partnerships. As part of UBC's campus-wide
eStrategy initiative, e-learning encourages professors and
students to explore creative, technology-savvy ways to enhance
their learning experience.