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UW LAMP Fellows Finish Yearlong Training with Virtual Poster Presentation

computer generated picture of a person entering an outdoor space
Since fellows in the UW Science Initiative’s Learning Actively Mentoring Program (LAMP) could not present their final poster research in person, the program’s director, Rachel Watson, led participants in a virtual program. Using the Second Life virtual program, she created a special avatar that was able to hang up the fellows’ research posters for viewing. (Tawfik Elshehabi Photo)

A group of 17 University of Wyoming and four community college instructors recently completed a yearlong training in the UW Science Initiative’s Learning Actively Mentoring Program (LAMP).

The LAMP fellows recently presented their final projects through Second Life, a virtual program.

The LAMP experience began with an immersive weeklong summer institute in Sheridan last year. The theme of the institute was “Transformative Learning.” During the summer program, LAMP fellows participated in many active-learning modalities, including team-based learning; collaborative communication; a flipped classroom; small- and large-group discussions; simulations; and role-playing. Fellows also engaged with student products based on problem-based learning.

“By the end of the week, each fellow had begun to plan their instructional strategy, and they formally submitted this strategy by the beginning of August,” says Rachel Watson, LAMP director and UW chemistry senior lecturer.

Throughout the academic year, fellows implemented their planned active learning. They assessed the success of changes before presenting individual works in the virtual poster presentation, using the Second Life program.

“LAMP posters were hung on the poster pavilion of a virtual island called Genome Island. The fellows, in the form of their avatars, stood by their posters and greeted visiting avatars,” Watson says. “Presenters explained their process of using backwards design to develop active courses, of implementing those courses and of assessing students’ learning.”

She says the posters are still displayed on Genome Island in Second Life and can be visited by anyone wishing to create an avatar and take a journey through the virtual land.

She adds that this year’s projects “culminated in something that could be published or at least presented at a conference.”

“They showed thoughtful alignment between their learning outcomes, activities and assessments. I also was overwhelmed by the willingness of the LAMP educators to step outside their comfort zone and present their research in this new virtual environment,” Watson says. “In so many ways, it was a poetic end to our year together, because the instructors pushed their own active learning to all new levels in Second Life.”

Tawfik Elshehabi, a UW petroleum engineering associate lecturer, praises the program, which he says will help him mentor his own students.

“I have learned from incredible mentors and a supportive community of learners, and the science and best practices of active learning,” Elshehabi says. “Implementing active-learning strategies ‎‎enhanced my teaching and significantly improved my students’ learning in an inclusive, active ‎‎and collaborative environment.”

To view the fellows’ posters, and to access Second Life, individuals can sign up for free at and download the Second Life Viewer. Once logged in, participants will be taken to Orientation Island, where individuals can customize an avatar. Individuals can “teleport” to the poster pavilion on Genome Island at

Listed are LAMP fellows, their home institutions/departments and individual poster titles:

-- Ellen Aikens, UW zoology and physiology postdoctoral fellow, from Kintnersville, Pa., “Incorporating collaborative communication techniques in lab meeting.”

-- Deepthi Amarasuriya, Northwest College, physics, “Dipping My Toe: Initial Implementation of LAMP Strategies in Algebra-Based Physics.”

-- Will Bowers, Salt Lake City, Utah, UW botany/program in hydrology doctoral student, “LIFE 1010 Syllabus Re-construction.”

-- Qing Du, Laramie County Community College, chemistry, “Journey to Enhance Active Learning.”

-- Debashis Dutta, UW chemistry chair, “Student-Centered Learning Activities for Electrical Circuit Design and Analysis.”

-- Tawfik Elshehabi, UW petroleum engineering associate lecturer, “Learning is Effective When It’s Active and Collaborative: T.E.A.M--Together, Everyone Achieves More.”

-- Cristilyn Gardner, UW physics and astronomy doctoral student, from Mohave Valley, Ariz., “Inspiring Young Scientists at Summer Camp Though Active Learning.”

-- Tim Glatzer, Northwest College, math, “Stronger Together: Implementing TBL into Calculus III.”

-- Rachel Hanan, Northwest College, literature, “Growing Pains: Pleasure, Active Learning and the Growth Mindset in Lower-Level College English Classes.”

-- McKensie Harris, UW animal science assistant lecturer, “Food and Our Well Being: Before, During and After.”

-- Ginka Kubelka, UW chemistry assistant lecturer, “Making Connections -- Active Learning in Undergraduate Organic Chemistry.”

-- Pam Langer, UW molecular biology associate professor, “Targeting a challenging learning objective in an active learning course.”

-- Harrison Leiendecker, UW physics and astronomy doctoral student, from Summerville, S.C., “Active Learning in a Physics Discussion Section.”

-- Jerod Merkle, UW zoology and physiology assistant professor, “Metamorphosis of a GIS course: A local conservation issue makes problem-based learning fly.”

-- Ashley Piccone, UW physics and astronomy doctoral student, from Thornton, Colo., “Implementing Active Learning in a Lecture Setting: Survey of Astronomy.”

-- Jason Rothenberg, UW physics and astronomy doctoral student, from Torrance, Calif., “A Study of Diverse Groups in Physics 1220 Lab.”

-- Anna Schwyter, UW ecosystem science and management doctoral student, from Telford, Pa., “Active Learning in Soil Morphology.”

-- Reshmi Singh, UW School of Pharmacy associate professor, “Role-Playing to Learn Research Methods.”

-- Ramesh Sivanpillai, UW Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center senior research scientist, “Learning India’s Environmental Issues and Policies through Inquiry-Based Methods.”

-- Linda van Diepen, UW ecosystem science and management assistant professor, “Placing ‘Micro’ in the Bigger Picture: Changing Students’ Perspective on Soil Microbes Through Discussion of Scientific Papers and Popular Press Articles.”

-- Becky Wilcox, UW Program in Ecology doctoral student, from Napa, Calif., “Leveraging problem-based learning to enhance understanding of conservation topics in the Rocky Mountain West.”



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