Three years ago, Jim Zubricky changed the way he taught chemistry; now he’s being recognized by Apple for it.Zubricky, an associate lecturer in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, utilizes the Apple iPad in his general chemistry courses. He began using the technology in 2012 after a suggestion from a collaborative program between the Office of the Provost and the Jesup Scott Honors College.
Students in Zubricky’s flipped course are assigned homework to help them understand a particular topic by using apps on the iPad, such as those that allow students to manipulate molecules or video apps with demonstrations. After practicing the topic, students answer questions about it on Mastering Chemistry, an online homework program.
Each assignment is due before class, which allows Zubricky to see how well the students grasped a particular topic and whether they should spend more time on it or move on.
“One of the coolest things is that the students are essentially dictating what we do in class,” Zubricky said. “There’s still a set curriculum, so I have to get from point A to point B, but they dictate the path we take.”
And the students seem to be taking very well to this type of learning; on average, they are scoring between 2 and 10 percent higher on exams than students who aren’t in the revamped class.
Because of his success with the course, Zubricky was encouraged to apply for the title of Apple Distinguished Educator. He wrote five pages of material describing his course and made a movie to demonstrate using iMovie. He found out earlier this year that he received the honorary title.
“Personally, it’s a huge accomplishment,” Zubricky said. “I’ve done something different, and people recognize that and it makes me feel great. But the best part about it is helping the students.”
Apple describes its distinguished honorees as “the most innovative educators in the world.” Zubricky is one of only six educators in Ohio to have the distinction, and one of only two in higher education in the state.
Zubricky plans to continue refining the course and making the student experience better using the technology available.