A hand touching an ipad with a computer screen in the backgound. Illustration.

Giving students an equal chance of success

- By using the NIRD service Platform for Molecular Modelling teaching. 

During the 2021 spring semester, most of the teaching had to be done digitally again, including practicals on computers. The new portal enables teachers and students to access the same Unix virtual environment, thus easing online teaching.
The KJEM220 course from the University of Bergen gives an overview of the molecular and quantum mechanics models used in the investigation of a wide range of chemical properties. Most of the open-source software employed in this field are used in a Unix environment (such as CP2K or GROMACS). 

Unfortunately, not all students have access to a Unix-based OS creating an imbalance between them. Thanks to Course Resources as a Service (CRaaS), teachers and students were granted access to a virtual environment through the desktop-VNC app on the NIRD Service Platform using NIRD Toolkit. Without any pre-knowledge or software installation, students could now connect to this new virtual environment in their web browser and install all visualization and calculation software through a custom installation script using the conda repository. 

Illustration of the NIRD Service Platform screen.

One of the most challenging aspects of digital teaching is to be sure that every student can have the same chance of success. To that extent, The NIRD Service Platform and its Desktop-VNC application was a true life-saver for our course when we lost access to the Linux practical room.
Thibault Tubiana, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Bergen