ChemEd X and the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE) are collaborating to offer a virtual conference like most have never seen before. It is not a webinar. You do not have to schedule specific hours to view a live presentation. I think of it as similar to a virtual book/journal club with the added benefit of having the author leading it. In this case, authors were selected from among those who have published recent articles, activities and research in JCE on the topic of student-centered instruction in chemistry. The theme of this inaugural conference is Chemistry Instruction for the Next Generation.
What is the conference about?
The whole chemical education community is in the midst of adjusting curricula, learning new strategies, looking for better assessments and reworking lessons as we move toward a more student-centered environment. The research supporting the move continues to grow. National and state mandates have pushed implementation. But sadly, there remains a gap between research and practice. I have been fortunate enough to have some excellent chemical education mentors that have not only devoted themselves to doing the research, but also to supporting those that can benefit from the research, the instructors. I hope that with this virtual conference, we can help to bring more instructors and researchers together so that we can develop a stronger community as we work toward improved practice.
Attendees will have free access to the JCE articles along with anything else the authors have decided they would like to share in relation to the original article. Because the specific content of the articles varies, we expect that the augmented materials will vary as well. Participants wishing to attend a specific session will have access to all of the materials the author(s) has provided and have ample time to construct thoughtful commentary. In turn, invited authors and those posting comments should respond to questions in a timely fashion.
Who Are The Presenters?
Topics include inquiry activities, professional development/collaboration, assessment, science practices, Modeling Instruction, research pertaining to using particulate models, etc. Even more exciting is the fact that the participating authors represent so many parts of our chemical education community. We have chemical education researchers, high school chemistry instructors, college chemistry instructors, pre-service teachers and graduate students involved.
Why Should You Attend?
As instructors, we want out students to engage, question, discuss and generally ponder the topics we cover so that they will develop deeper conceptual understanding. I have tried to model these skills and strategies for my students but just as they need to practice these skills, so do we. It is only by engaging in these types of activities and discussions that we will truly understand the depth of the topics put before us in this conference. This is why I think this unique platform can be powerful. Any learning/understanding that occurs here will happen because of engagement among all stake-holders in our community and thoughtful commentary. If we expect our students to take responsibility for their own learning, should we not push ourselves to do the same? I wonder how much we might learn just by putting our student hats on and practicing the skills and strategies that we expect our students to practice in our own classrooms. We may develop empathy which can be powerful in its own right. We might even have an "Ah-Ha" moment or two during the conference that will cause an even greater shift.
I hope that you will register and commit to not only reading the materials offered, but also joining the conversation. My colleague, Greg Rushton, and I hope that this conference will help to bridge the gap between research and practice and that the conversation will continue beyond the end of this conference. We are hosting this event together. Read our introduction on the conference website. Only those who create an account at ChemEd X Conferences can participate in the conversation. Thanks to JCE, there is no charge. The conference is scheduled to run May 8 – 27, 2017. The Conference opens on May 8th with an introduction from the organizers. The presentation for session #1 opens on this day as well. The session is open for conversation May 10 - May 12. If you register, we will notify you when each session opens.