Development of a virtual classroom to teach biochemistry

R.S. Rodrigues, M.S. Castro, W. Fontes


Knowing  the  difficulties to  teach  some biochemistry concepts  because  of their  dynamic  and  spatial characteristics, computers  have been adopted  to help in these  visualizations.  Pictures, three  dimen- sional structures and animations were built and used to display in classes and distributed to students. Behind  these  specific illustrations, an  informatics  environment has  been  developed  to  support bio- chemistry  teaching.    Based  in  free software,  it fits  in  a single CD  that works  independent of any software installed  on the computer, even the operating  system, and is compatible  with most hardware configurations.This technique is called live-CD. It is based on Linux architecture, which is not only free software but also more flexible to be configured.  After some tests with Linux distributions, Slackware has been chosen because of its easy manipulation and  because it makes the  best use of the hardware  allowing to be installed  in old or limited  equipments. It has been configured to make the best optimization of the computer  and have all software needed for most biochemistry classrooms.It  was installed:   an  Internet browser  compatible  with  a 3D molecule visualization plug-in,  text editor,  presentation editor,  picture  editor  and  some didactic  material  specific for biochemistry.  The interface was configured for people with no experience in the Linux environment.The  system  can  also work in an  intranet, where  a computer  would  be operated  by the  teacher and it would have some special control configurations  as: web site access control, power control of the others  machines  and  even an option  that would bring  the  desktop  of other  machine  to the  teacher´s what  allows him to make a straight orientation for a student from his screen.This new system,  which is a common platform  for other  didactic  material  projects,  broadens  the usage of animations and teach sites during the class or for individual studies.  The students can improve their  experience in learning  biochemistry without having to buy expensive software.This system will be distributed over the Internet for the teachers  and students interested in trying, learning,  using and helping the development of the new system.


virtual classroom, 3D molecule visualization

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