Traditionally, most college classes go something like this: 1) the student reads the textbook and comes to class, 2) the instructor lectures, and 3) the student goes home to try his or her hand at applying the knowledge from the textbook and lecture (in other words, homework).

What if you were able to really dig in and get involved instead?

What if you could work as a team of professionals who investigated something that mattered—and used what you learned in class to reinforce it all? That’s exactly what students in some of Dr. Farah Bennani’s and Dr. Anjali Vaidya’s microbiology classes will be doing this fall.

A Realistic Simulation to Find “Patient Zero.”

Drs. Bennani and Vaidya, biology faculty at the FRCC Westminster campus, received a grant from the Colorado community college system office to develop an interactive, game-based approach to teaching microbiology. Students will work as teams and assume the role of microbiology interns for the Center for Disease Control in a semester-long contagious outbreak scenario. In this “augmented reality simulation,” students will investigate a mysterious illness and must quickly track down “patient zero” before the epidemic threshold is reached.

Much More Than Fun and Games.

You might be tempted to label this “fun and games,” but don’t be fooled. This course will maintain its academic rigor, accomplish the same learning outcomes as traditional sections, and push students to perform in meaningful, real-world situations. The student teams will conduct virtual investigations on complex problems such as prokaryotic profiles, viruses, microbial metabolism and genetics, host defenses, specific immunities, and infectious diseases. According to the instructors, students will also develop science, math, and technology literacy as well as competency in microbiology, cell biology, and genetics.

This is just one of several new innovative approaches to teaching that you will find at FRCC this fall. I’ll write later about several other outstanding projects, including virtual psychology labs, new ways of teaching math, a “flipped” classroom in biology, and much more.

The creativity, innovation, and passion of the faculty at FRCC never cease to amaze me. You can bet that I’ll be popping into microbiology classrooms this fall!

What innovative teaching methods have you experienced in the classroom?

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