Online Resources for Chemical Education

Organizers: Bob Belford, Department of Chemistry, University of Arkansas-Little Rock, 2801 S. University Ave, Little Rock, AR, 72204, tel: (501) 569-8824, Email:; Bob Hanson, Department of Chemistry, St. Olaf College, 1520 St. Olaf Ave., Northfield, MI, 55057, tel: (507) 786-3107, Email:; and John Penn, Department of Chemistry, WVU, PO Box 6045, Morgantown WV, 26506, tel: (304) 293-3435 x 6452, Email:

This symposium had three sessions which were presided by John Penn, Bob Hanson and Linda Lindert. John Penn presided the first session which was devoted to Web 2.0 and semantic web technologies. Bob Hanson (St. Olaf College) introduced advances to Jmol, in particular Jmol 12.0 which has the capability to be used as a model kit -- to add, delete, and move atoms and bonds, and to minimize structures dynamically. He showed how Jmol 12.0 can be integrated into a web page, specifically, that can tap in to the 80 million compounds database at the National Institutes of Health to provide models of just about any common chemical you can name or write the SMILES string for. Henry Rzepa (Imperial College of London) discussed some of the issues that arise from inserting chemistry into mobile space, describing how the content models differ from the traditional desktop/browser model, and how access to information provided via mobile devices may evolve. He emphasized the importance of users having access to information and data, and of not sandboxing it into the closed environment that many mobile apps nowadays represent. In the next talk, "RSC|ChemSpider as an environment for teaching and sharing chemistry", Antony Williams (RSC) presented on how the ChemSpider database, an online database of almost 25 million chemical compounds linked out to over 400 different internet resources, can be used by the community. On this site chemists can deposit, share, source and use the data as the basis of lesson plans, games and developing deeper understanding in chemistry. He talked about how the resource can become the basis of training students in spectroscopy, online data validation and the provision of supporting information for their own experiments.

Bob Belford (UALR) then presented on the WikiHyperGlossary, a social semantic information literacy tool which automates the mark-up of digital documents and web pages and connects them to online resources through a glossary database. He discussed some of the issues "free agent learners' confront and how coupling social glossaries to canonical glossaries could provide sufficient user-appropriate content to enhance learning through a targeted expansion of a user’s zone of proximal development. Martin Walker (SUNY-Potsdam) then presented on "Wiki resources for chemical education” where he outlined some recent developments in chemistry content on Wikipedia, and gave a preview of the new chemical education wiki under development by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Peter Murray-Rust's (Cambridge University) "Open semantic resources for chemical education" presented a variety of data and tools which can directly provide Open teaching and learning objects (TLOs). These included; Chem4Word - an Open add-in for Word which integrates chemical drawing and display with document creation and editing, which is also a platform for accessing webservices such as OSCAR, OPSIN, Crystaleye and Pubchem. Crystaleye (, an Open data repository of ca 250,000 crystal structures. This can be searched and a typical example is for bond lengths in different compounds (such as what makes an As-Cl bond long or short) and OPSIN (, a service to translate formal chemical names into structures. Phillip Janowicz ended the first session with his talk "Megastudent classroom: Teaching one million students at once".

Bob Hanson presided the second session which started out with Rabin Lai (Academy Savant) presenting on the HPLC Troubleshooting Expert system: An e-Learning program designed to teach the methodology of trouble shooting HPLC problems and then provide an expert system for diagnosing problems and offering solutions. The next two presentations dealt with gaming. Tandy Grubbs (Stetson) reported on how he is using 'casual gaming' to engage students in introductory chemistry. He transformed the popular Mahjong Solitaire to "Mahjong Chem", a free online program that is also available as a free iPhone/iPad/iPod app. David Yaron (Carnegie Mellon) presented on a "Chemical Recon", a two-player virtual laboratory based game where introductory chemistry students create an unknown solution and then try to determine the identity of their opponent’s solution.

Lisa Lindert (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) discussed the Centra system for Stanford's Education Program for Gifted Youth - Online High School (EPGY-OHS) Honors and AP Chemistry Program. Barbara Reisner (James Madison), Joanne Stewart (Hope College) and Burke Scott Williams (Claremont Colleges) gave a group presentation on the IONiC (Interactive Online Network of Inorganic Chemists) collaborative learning community and the VIPEr (Virtual Inorganic Pedagogical Electronic Resource), Arlene Russell (UCLA) gave the final session presentation on Calibrated Peer Review (CPR), which described the evolution of the CPR program and demonstrated the latest features of CPR4. This includes a citation index which allows for repurposing of existing work through the development of derivative works by other authors while maintaining documentation of original authors work.

Lisa Lindert presided the third session which started out with a presentation by John Penn (WVU) on the WE_LEARN (Web-based Enhanced Learning Evaluation and Resource Network) program for Organic Chemistry. In addition to describing the We_Learn system, data was presented where students were given multiple choices of exam dates and a correlation was drawn that the more students delayed taking an exam the lower their grade. Mark Bishop (Monterey Peninsula College) then discussed his self-published internet textbook and issues associated with an "options overloads" resulting from so much online multi-media ancillary content being available. Robley Light (FSU) then presented on a new "Microcontent Publishing" model for publishing digital content in which the content author is reimbursed by the publisher with royalty payments based on each individual student interaction.

Susan Young (Hartwick College) presented on the OWL Book which integrates functionality of the OWL homework system into the class textbook by creating an interactive electronic workbook. David Collard then presented on the Chemistry Collaboration, Workshops and Communities of Scholars (cCWCS), an online faculty collaboration project which evolved out of the CWCS (Center for Workshops in Chemical Sciences). John Moore (UW-Madison) gave the final presentation of the symposium on ChemEd DL, the Chemical Education Digital Library, part of the National STEM Distributed Learning Program. This presentation covered the basic resources of the ChemEd DL Portal along with demonstrations of the functionality of some specific resources like Periodic Table Live! and Models 360. The later provided enhanced Jmols with features like symmetry visualizations and allowed you to activate vibrational modes by clicking on a molecules IR spectra.