V. Blanco1, C.M. Cruz1, E. de los Reyes1, I.R. Márquez1, A. Millán2, C.R. Maldonado1, D. Miguel-Alvarez1, A.G. Campaña1

1Universidad de Granada (SPAIN)
2University of Bristol (UNITED KINGDOM)
The learning of the synthesis, properties and applications of organic materials with thorough industrial and technological applications such as polymers is fundamental in University degrees as diverse as Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Optics and Optometry. Hence, these concepts are included as fundamental sections of three subjects, compulsory at our University in those three degrees.

These subjects also include some laboratory sessions as an essential complement to the theoretical lectures. Exploiting these laboratory sessions is fundamental for the students in order to assimilate and interconnect key concepts. However, the academic staff involved in the teaching of these polymer science courses have been detecting some problems in these experimental sessions which prevent the students from achieving an adequate learning. The main problem arises from the different Organic Chemistry background of the students, which need to handle different chemicals and manipulate laboratory material following some basic laboratory operations. Therefore, the demonstrators have to spent an excessive amount of the laboratory time, restricted only to 3-4 sessions, dealing with basic laboratory techniques or the experimental procedure. Similarly, the students focus mainly on these aspects than on understanding the connections between theoretical concepts and experimental observations, key for their correct academic progress and one of the main goals of the teaching laboratory sessions.

In order to deal with these special features and bearing in mind the proper academic progress of the students, we present the preparation of a virtual laboratory notebook in a Moodle-based platform which includes multimedia materials that facilitate the autonomous learning. This web-notebook is being implemented in this academic year and we would expect a considerable improvement in two different aspects:
-The students would learn how to address the general experimental tasks of the experiments proposed, including the basic laboratory techniques. As a result, the training would be more homogeneous between the students, increasing simultaneously their efficiency and the safety during the time-limited laboratory sessions.
-The possibility of visualize the videos and reading the texts before and after the experimental sessions would help the students in understanding the fundamental concepts that lay behind the procedures they follow and the observations they make during the sessions.

Additionally, this web-notebook would also introduce web-based learning tools to the students, increasing their skills in new teaching platforms. Finally, in order to facilitate the students integration avoiding language barriers and to help students improving their language skills, we intend to include materials in both Spanish and English.

[1] P. J. O'Malley, J. R. Agger, M. W. Anderson, J. Chem. Educ. 2015, 92, 1661-1666.