In order to integrate cloud technology and classroom teaching, we used smartphone/pad as learning tools and communication devices. Electronic resources (courseware, micro-video, databases, etc.) are moved into the cloud to construct the cloud-based teaching platform (Figure 1), which provides the basis of “online and offline” teaching. It allows every undergraduate to join the class simply by accepting an invitation, where they would have access to all of the electronic resources. As such, the teachers can precede the lesson with background information, the students are more likely to derive meaning from a reading assignment in the platform. Furthermore, we use the number of scientific research projects undertaken by undergraduates as an indicator of their innovative practice (i.e. publishing scientific research papers). And we also assessed the improvement level of undergraduates’ academic performance by the use of cloud-based teaching platforms.
Releasing the core knowledge of medicinal chemistry courses (including drug structure, structure-activity relationship and synthesis method, etc.)
Sources were released as PowerPoint, pictures, micro-video, and other types of form. The diversity of electronic teaching materials is much more than that of traditional teaching books. What’s more, it is convenient for undergraduates to get and learn the subject through mobile terminals anytime and anywhere, promoting the learning interest of our students in study basic and frontier knowledge. At the same time, teachers can keep abreast of undergraduates' learning progress. Undergraduates can also share their study achievements or discuss with teachers without any delay.
Sharing the examples of drug research and development and the latest research progress of medicinal chemistry
Aspirin, for example, is regarded as a medical legend. We can share the story regarding the discovery of aspirin, as well as new research progress regarding aspirin and other COX inhibitors with the undergraduates. We also can share the research progress of hot spots of the new drug development, such as cancer immunotherapy. So that undergraduates will get a more comprehensive understanding of drug discovery process, and hopefully increase their interest in drug research.
Integrating cloud technology into flipped classroom, case teaching, classroom testing and other teaching procedures
To discuss the central problems with in a flipped classroom or case-based teaching more thoroughly, teachers can push important literature (such as the story of penicillin discovery, the development process of cimetidine), which may be difficult for students to acquire, and share their learning experience through the cloud platform. This allows our undergraduates to come to class prepared for discussion and active learning. Teachers can also open an online discussion platform, allowing undergraduates to brainstorm anytime and anywhere, and creating communities where teachers and undergraduates will communicate with each other encouraging undergraduates to explore topics through self-directed learning. These strategies reduce undergraduate dependence on lecture as the only way to get knowledge. Additionally, teachers can easily monitor all students because the software application directly tracks learning progress (Figure 2A). Furthermore, the software application provides an interesting function of “sign in”. It can help teachers grasp attendance of each undergraduate dynamically and more quickly (Figure 2B). In addition, testing undergraduates by using the cloud platform at anytime and anywhere is more flexible and it could decrease test anxiety. Test scores are released immediately after the test, which encourages undergraduates to study more efficiently. The results of the classroom tests from the course showed that the average score was 41.4 (100 as full mark) in the first chapter test at beginning of the semester, while it increased to 71.6 in the last chapter test at the end of the semester (Figure 2C). To be of convenient, the software can summarize the error rate of each question, all undergraduates' test results and completion time (Figure 2D), so the teachers can roughly judge the difficulty of the questions, the teaching effect, and undergraduates’ status of grasping courses, which provides basis for teaching reform.
The online teaching model has been implemented in 2014-2018. The faculty is composed of experts in medicinal chemistry from the Department of Medicine of Zhejiang University to ensure the smooth progress of teaching. The students in this study are composed of 171 freshman and 233 sophomore students majoring in pharmacy at Zhejiang University, who actively cooperated with the implementation of online teaching interaction and the filling of questionnaires.
The software application can directly monitor the learning progress. In the teacher server window, teacher can directly click to view the learning progress and attendance rate of each student. We designed a questionnaire to evaluate this new teaching mode. The questionnaire contained many questions, including the difficulty of the medicinal chemistry course; recognition of the importance of the medicinal chemistry course; does cloud teaching applications improve learning efficiency; course website and cloud-based teaching platform, which one is preferred; cloud teaching platform learning time (weekly); the most difficult contents in the experiments; is cloud micro-video conducive to experimental teaching [See supplementary file].
Ethical approval or registration was not necessary in accordance with the ICMJE guidelines as our participants were undergraduate students majoring in pharmacy who could voluntarily sign up for the study. Although consent was not required, all participants were informed of the purpose of this study (i.e. evaluation and improvement of teaching strategy, aimed at informing the revision of the School’s graduate program) during the teaching phase and again at the start of the class and all agreed before starting the teaching.
To ensure students did not feel obliged to participate, all students were allowed to withdraw from the study at any time, without having to provide a reason. Participants were guaranteed that all data would be processed anonymously and confidentially, and that participation was voluntary.