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UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 3 | Mar. 4, 2004

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 learning activity.

"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.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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