What are the greatest barriers to conducting interdisciplinary and interinstitutional research in the science classroom? The answers to this question, according to participants in a recent NSF and ACS sponsored workshop at Birmingham-Southern College, are quite familiar to anyone immersed in academic work: time, funding, and the difficulty of finding suitable collaborators. But in the short space of two days, workshop organizers Pamela Hanson and Laura Stultz found exciting and creative ways of addressing all three. With participants representing fifteen different colleges and universities (including eight ACS institutions), Hanson and Stultz lead a program that included a discussion of the benefits of and barriers to collaborative, problem-based research in the classroom and a tour through digital tools for collaboration with NITLE‘s Bryan Alexander. Examples of some successful interinstitutional research projects were discussed, including Karen Kuers’s work with the Ecological Research as Education Network and the collaborative research on ruthenium complexes conducted by Hanson, Stultz, and Mary Miller (Rhodes), along with a review of options for funding this type of work. The workshop also included ample opportunities for break-out sessions by research interest, allowing new project ideas to percolate among participants.
Together, attendees tested some new technologies for collaboration, such as Skype sessions with potential research partners, lecture capture for the flipped classroom, and a videoconference conversation in ‘Southern’s brand new tech-ready classroom. Each participant also contributed to a workshop wiki that will now serve as the basis for further interest group collaboration. Perhaps the most challenging part of this busy and productive meeting was the scavenger hunt that Hanson and Stultz arranged, charging each research interest group to practice using the wiki by collecting and uploading images of campus sights–some easier to spot than others!