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AIC Seminar Series

Beyond the MOOC: Leveraging the Biology of Learning in Higher Education

Prof. Robin WrightUniversity of Minnesota[Home Page]

Notice:  Hosted by Vinay Chaudhri.

Date:  Friday, May 10th 2013 at 12:00pm

Location:  EJ228 (SRI E building)  (Directions)


MOOCs (Massive Open On-line Courses) and other strategies that aim to deliver personalized, on-line learning have the potential to cause cataclysmic changes in education. Or do they? Some argue that we are on the cusp of a revolutionary change in teaching and learning. Others maintain that these new approaches just provide a new, mostly ineffective, tool in the teacher s arsenal. In this interactive discussion, we will review basics of how people learn and then examine an entry-level college biology course that attempts to put those principles into action. Come prepared to go "back to school" as we think together about what makes the best learning experiences that reach the largest number of brains.

   Bio for Prof. Robin Wright

Robin Wright earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. from Carnegie-Mellon University. After postdoctoral training at UC, Berkeley, she was on the faculty of the University of Washington (Zoology Department) for nearly 13 years. She moved to Minnesota in 2003, and is currently Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs in the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) and professor of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development.

Prior to focusing exclusively on undergraduate education, her lab used genetic, cell biological, ecological, and evolutionary approaches to explore cold adaptation. In addition, her laboratory was well known as a great place for undergraduates to pursue research. Over the past 21 years, she has mentored nearly 100 undergraduate researchers.

In terms of classroom instruction, Prof. Wright has experience teaching both large and small classes, including freshman seminars, large introductory biology courses, and skill-oriented courses for honors students. The University of Washington, her previous institution, recognized her teaching innovations with a university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award. Her major goal as Associate Dean is to catalyze the development of the nation s best biology curriculum, including biology courses that apply principles of active learning, research, and engagement. In this regard, she helped to develop and co-teaches in the Nature of Life and has been a leader in development of Foundations of Biology, an innovative, team-based introductory biology course for biological sciences majors.

Prof. Wright has served on the Education Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology and was as chair of the Education Committee for the Genetics Society of America. In addition, she was a senior editor of the Journal, Life Science Education and is the founding Editor-in-Chief of a new biology curriculum journal called CourseSource. She is a member of the Executive Committee for the HHMI/National Academies of Science-sponsored Summer Institute on Biology Education. She has been named as a National Academies Biology Education Mentor for the past 10 years. She was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012.

   Note for Visitors to SRI

Please arrive at least 10 minutes early as you will need to sign in by following instructions by the lobby phone at Building E. (or call Wilma Lenz at 650 859 4904, or Vicenta at Lopez at 650 859 5750). SRI is located at 333 Ravenswood Avenue in Menlo Park. Visitors may park in the parking lots off Fourth Street. Detailed directions to SRI, as well as maps, are available from the Visiting AIC web page. There are two entrances to SRI International located on Ravenswood Ave. Please check the Builing E entrance signage.

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