1. PLTL: Tracking the Trajectory from Face-to-Face to Online Environments Pratibha Varma-Nelson, Julianna Banks
Over the past three years, an interdisciplinary team of investigators, led by Professor of Chemistry and CTL Executive Director Dr. Pratibha Varma-Nelson, has worked to adapt the Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) instructional model to a cyber-environment (aka cPLTL). PLTL is a pedagogy that preserves the lecture and replaces the course recitation with a weekly two-hour workshop in which six to eight students work collaboratively to solve challenging problems under the guidance of a peer leader. cPLTL is the "cyber" evolution of PLTL to an online format. The team’s work represents a new direction for educational research and expands the knowledgebase on teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts, while using technology as an educational tool. With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) initiative, the team is examining cPLTL’s impact on student performance. Analysis of course grades and standardized exam scores has shown cPLTL’s positive impact on educational outcomes. This chapter traces the evolution of a pedagogy developed for the face-to-face classroom environment to an online platform. Specifically, it outlines the rationale that led to the development of cPLTL; describes how technology was integrated into the PLTL model; summarizes its effectiveness, outcomes, and lessons learned; and speculates on the future use of cPLTL.
Varma-Nelson, P., & Banks, J. V. (2013). PLTL: Tracking the trajectory from face-to-face to on-line environments. In T. Holme, M. Cooper, and P. Varma-Nelson (Eds.),Trajectories of chemistry education innovation and reform (pp. 95-110). Washington, DC: American Chemical Society.
2. Supporting Student Collaboration in Cyberspace: A cPLTL Study of Web Conferencing Platforms Jacob McDaniel, Stephanie Metcalf, John Sours, Thomas Janke, James R. Newbrough, Lorie Shuck, and Pratibha Varma-Nelson
cPLTL is the "cyber" evolution of Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) to an online environment. PLTL is a model of teaching first developed in chemistry (and later adopted in many science disciplines), that preserves the lecture and replaces recitation with a weekly two-hour session. During these interactive sessions called workshops, six to eight students work as a team to solve carefully-constructed problems under the guidance of a peer leader. Similarly, in the cPLTL model synchronous online sessions are employed to engage students in problem solving activities. The web conferencing system's video, voice, and chat features allow the peer leader and students to communicate in real time. As cyber peer-led team learning matures, adopting institutions have queried whether other web conferencing platforms might replace or supplement the original platform. For this article the cPLTL development team explored both commercial and no-cost online alternatives to facilitate adoption initiatives.