Adapting a Dynamic and Integrated Metabolic Map into an OER for Teaching Metabolism within the Biological Sciences

Project TitleAdapting a Dynamic and Integrated Metabolic Map into an OER for Teaching Metabolism within the Biological Sciences
Principal InvestigatorLindsay Rogers
Saeed Dyanatkar, Executive Producer, UBC Studios & Emerging Media Lab
Michael Sider, Educational Producer, UBC Studios
Anuli Uzozie, Postdoctoral Fellow, BC Children’s Hospital
Funding Year2022
Project SummaryThe complement of chemical reactions within an organism is called metabolism. Thousands of metabolic reactions exist, and together they describe all biological processes such as how we obtain energy from food and jump when we are frightened. Metabolism is difficult to learn due to its complexity. Textbook figures often simplify metabolism by presenting individual reactions in isolation. However, to make metabolism interesting and link metabolism to biology, it must be viewed as a dynamic network.

Through work supported by a Small TLEF Innovation Project, our team has developed interactive learning technology to visualize complex metabolic networks within the subcellular context of a human cell. Design work began in May 2020 and our network currently displays eight metabolic pathways. Interactivity enables the user to highlight specific pathways, activate animations to visualize flux through the network, and select individual nodes and edges to access biochemical detail relating to each metabolite and metabolic reaction. Our team hosted a formal consultation with UBC undergraduate students to direct design of the network and we have completed two rounds of user testing with students and staff. We are currently designing a pilot study to qualitatively and quantitatively assess how effectively the tool supports learning metabolism within undergraduate courses.

The goal of the proposed project is to adapt our 3D metabolic network into an OER which will be implemented within both 200- and 300-level biochemistry courses at UBC. This will involve designing a website to host our 3D metabolic network as well as several learning resources. Resources will include instructional videos and transcripts demonstrating how to use various features within the user interface, and learning resources to support implementation of the tool within the classroom. This OER will reduce textbook costs to students by replacing approximately half of the curriculum within 200- and 300-level biochemistry undergraduate courses at UBC. Success of this project will be evaluated by comparing reported learner experience and performance across learners using the OER versus existing instructional resources. Universal Design for Learning will be considered across all areas of development to make the tool as accessible as possible to all learners.

Ultimately, adapting our 3D Metabolic network into a web-based OER will make this learning technology more accessible and usable by students and easier to integrate into UBC courses. The web-based OER will contain several additional materials to enhance student learning and adoption by instructors at UBC and beyond.
Grant type OER Implementation
Funded Amount $25,000