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Monday, January 08, 2007

2007 Winter term starts

I had the first session of my Organic Chemistry II class this morning. I took some time over the break to take this course to what I see as the next level. Although students are still able to take in the content via archived screencast lectures in multiple formats (mp3 podcast, m4v vodcast, streaming Real or downloadable AVIs), this content is password protected due to copyright issues.

Instead of simply re-recording the lectures using unencumbered reference material, I decided to make full use of multimedia resources that would not be as intuitively available from a screencast. In the place of lectures is a detailed summary of the content to be covered with links to high quality resources. This is still a work in progress and I will add, remove and clarify as I come to appreciate what works and what doesn't during our workshops.

This ties in nicely with the assortment of sources that I pulled together in a Google co-op search for high level organic chemistry. Although I was not planning to include it, Wikipedia has turned out to be so useful that I have added it to my Google co-op collection. There is probably not enough in there to make a university level organic chemistry course entirely out of it but it does fill in some useful gaps between textbooks. If it stops being useful for any reason, Google co-op gives me the flexibility to block out certain pages or just remove it entirely. We'll see how it goes.

The main free online textbook I have been using so far is Reusch but there are several others to choose from. The Poon organic pre-lectures on iTunes also look like they could have a place when we get to the latter part of the course.

I will still be recording some brief screencasts to fill a need that is still largely open for this material: the screencast explanations of problem solutions. For example, under the practice problems section for alkynes, I have included a pic of a problem. Clicking on the image will open up my explanation of the solution in YouTube. This is an extension of something I started to do at the end of last term and I think that this is a place where screencasts shine. These will complement the links to interactive tutorials that I have also listed in the problem sections.

The first workshop is Wednesday - it should be interesting.

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