Trent Forensic Science professor Dr. Sanela Martic is bringing the popular topic of forensic toxicology virtually anywhere with a new online course Forensic Toxicology: From Crime Scene to the Virtual Lab.
“Many people are fascinated with forensic science – it’s on TV and in popular culture. I think an open-access course, such as this one, appeals to those studying or working in other scientific fields, such as chemistry, and who are interested in learning more about forensic science applications,” says Professor Martic. “I envision faculty members bringing some of the resources and virtual labs that we developed into their courses, promoting forensic science within a broader academic sphere.”
Forensics at your fingertips
Developed in close collaboration with Trent Online, and with funding from the Ontario government’s Virtual Learning Strategy, this course takes the user on a journey from the crime scene, through the laboratory, and to the courtroom as they explore various aspects of forensic toxicology.
This interactive resource comprises two modules, each including interactive presentations and podcasts, and a virtual laboratory module with video lab sessions, downloadable data sets, and worksheets. The result is a seamless transition from evidence collection to the lab and the courtroom.
“For the virtual labs, we recorded videos on-site here at Trent. Each video has information on instruments, sample preparation and data collection, with the goal that the user can replicate the experiment in their own space,” adds Prof. Martic.
Breaking down barriers to education
“This grant was an opportunity to build out the Forensic Science department’s online offering,” says Prof. Martic. “This course is very timely as there are not many other open-source, science-focused forensics courses offered through the eCampus Ontario site,” says Prof. Martic.
Prof. Martic believes the course will also be a fantastic value-add for working professionals in the field of forensic science, allowing them to gain in-depth knowledge on the topic of forensic toxicology.
“Online courses, such as this one, remove barriers to learning for both students and practitioners. Students can combine their digital experience with in-person class and lab work,” says Prof. Martic. “Learners and teachers also have continuous access to these academic resources, so they have the flexibility to continue their learning or build on course curriculums.”
Students integral to the project
With the eCampus Ontario funding, Prof. Martic was able to hire two research assistants to work with her on developing the Forensic Toxicology course. M.Sc. Environmental & Life Sciences student, Josephine Esposto, and Allie Miskulin, an undergraduate student in the Forensic Science program assisted with content research, setting up labs and assisting with the videos and podcasts.
“We also tested our labs with students during in-person classes on campus and received really good feedback,” adds Prof. Martic. “My students, as well as the Trent Online team, were integral to developing this course. We couldn’t have done it without this group of people.”
Forensic Toxicology: From Crime Scene to the Virtual Lab is one of several projects at Trent receiving a total of almost $1 million through the Government of Ontario’s new Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS). The VLS is being delivered through eCampusOntario, a non-profit organization assisting post-secondary institutions in developing and testing open-access resources and online learning tools to advance the use of education technology and digital learning environments.