In 2011, Stephen Craig decided he wanted to teach Chemistry 43 without two stalwarts of the college course: the lecture and the textbook. Craig worked with other faculty in the Chemistry department to create problem sets and activities for students to work through in small teams in class. Instead of a textbook, they curated a collection of open-source educational materials, including existing websites like The Orbitron, from the University of Sheffield, videos from MIT’s OpenCourseWare, and whiteboard animations produced by Craig himself.
Students review the materials before class; in class, they solve problems, sometimes brought in from his own research lab. He says this method lets him explore material with students in a deeper way than would be possible otherwise. He can observe how students work through the material and help when they get stuck. “I get to do more teaching this way,” he says. Several years after implementing the new course design, Craig’s work has led to discussions in the department about how to create more online Chemistry resources and share the knowledge with students around the world.